Trump Picks Pence as VP, Spelling Double Trouble for the Environment

The reality show that was the GOP VP nominating process is now at an end. Trump to Mike Pence: You’re hired.

Many Republican strategists hope this is good news for the party’s prospects in November up and down the ballot. For Americans who care about clean energy and the environment, it’s more trouble ahead.

Part of the narrative about Pence is that he balances the ticket by being more temperamentally moderate than Trump and yet more ideologically reassuring to conservatives on issues such as trade. But let’s be clear on the implications for clean energy and environmental policy, Donald Trump has doubled-down on his dirty positions where the extremist Pence is no moderate.

The following is a first-take view of Pence’s record on key environmental policies.

He’s a climate denier. Here Pence’s double-play on Trump is undeniable. Like Trump he does not believe the science on climate change warrants action to fight it. Instead he calls the science “mixed” as a way of justifying inaction, and then like Trump has called for scrapping Obama’s plan to clean up old, dirty coal-fired power plants and for getting the polluting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline built.

He was a consistent opponent of environmental protection as a member of Congress. He has a career record of voting for the environment only 4% of the time in the U.S. House of Representatives, as scored by the League of Conservation Voters. What more can you say? This includes a bewildering history of voting at times against cleaner air and water, increased safety for potentially hazardous chemicals, and reduced taxpayer subsidies for polluting industries.

He let progress on clean energy get whacked as governor. Environmental policy hasn’t been in the forefront of state politics during his three-and-a-half years as governor, but he has shown his colors when he has had a chance. In March of 2014 he allowed the legislature to repeal Energizing

Photo Credit: Krista Kennell

Photo Credit: Krista Kennell

Indiana, a program that had helped utility customers cost-effectively reduce their energy consumption while creating 19,000 jobs, according to an independent study.

He is into the pockets of big polluting donors. Given that Pence is a reliable vote for electric utilities and other coal interests, it’s not surprising that companies and individuals with a vested interest in these matters have channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to him in the past year. Look for this amount to balloon as the Trump-Pence ticket moves to the general election.

Maybe it was too much to hope that Trump would balance the ticket by getting someone with at least an open mind about how a clean environment and a healthy economy can go together. If nothing else, though, the Pence choice makes doubly clear what the pro-environment choice is this fall.

NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

This is what the NRDC Action Fund has been reading this week:

Reuters/Brian Snyder

President Obama campaigns with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Obama and Hillary campaign on climate – Obama and Clinton took to North Carolina and hit Trump for his absurd and dangerous positions on climate change. (Grist)

The #climate election – Americans are deeply concerned about climate change, but they fear it’s not playing a prominent enough role in the 2016 election conversation. (The Guardian)

Science organizations take on Congress – 31 scientific groups push back against climate denial in Congress and tell lawmakers to “to reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change.” (InsideClimate News)

Beyond the Flint water crisis Over 18 million Americans are drinking potentially contaminated tap water due to widespread failures in the testing, monitoring, and enforcement of federal drinking water standards, signaling a nationwide crisis. (NRDC)

Trump’s real estate isn’t safe from climate change – Donald Trump’s Palm Beach properties will suffer the effects of climate change despite him turning  a blind eye to the issue. (The Guardian)

Climate denial doesn’t win elections – A new poll tells us voters across party lines would be less likely to support climate-denying political candidates. (E&E)

California’s clean energy economy – California is America’s leader in clean energy and if it were a nation, it would rank in world’s top five in energy productivity, electricity from renewable sources, and reductions in carbon intensity. (Los Angeles Times)

NRDC Action Fund Responds to Trump’s Energy Plans

trump 2NRDC Action Fund Executive Director Kevin Curtis issued the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s speech on energy and environmental issues in Bismarck, N.D., earlier today:

“Donald Trump today proposed disastrous policies that would ruin the environment. As president, he would put decades of environmental progress at risk and make it impossible to grow the clean energy economy we need to avoid the worst effects of global climate change.”

Polls: N.H. primary voters favor clean energy

The Iowa Caucuses are done, so it’s on to New Hampshire next week where the remaining candidates for president face voters who have strong opinions about clean energy.

A January poll found more than 60% of likely voters in New Hampshire support new EPA standards that limit carbon pollution from power plants. Even self-identified Republican primary voters in the Granite State want presidential candidates who will maintain or strengthen federal environmental protections, according to a poll conducted last summer by GOP pollster American Viewpoint. They want to limit the use of coal and increase the use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar, and they’re not buying the false argument that switching to clean energy will cost American jobs, according to the poll.

Meanwhile leading GOP contender Donald Trump has said he’d gut the EPA. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the top vote-getter in Iowa, continues to bungle climate science in a sad attempt to deny the existence of global warming. And while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) once acknowledged the challenges presented by climate change, he’s since decided to toe the GOP line and become a climate denier.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have been vocal about the need for continued American leadership to address climate change and about the economic opportunities of a clean energy economy.

Now is the time for voters to hold all candidates accountable for their positions on an issue that’s vitally important to the future of New Hampshire, our country and the planet. Editors, reporters and moderators should ask about the contradictions between the Republican candidates’ positions and those of most New Hampshirites.

NRDC Action Fund’s Ad Campaign Tells Sen. Toomey: Support the Clean Power Plan

Toomey AF digital ad

This week, the NRDC Action Fund is launching a nearly $1 million ad campaign in Pennsylvania urging Senator Pat Toomey to take a bold step on climate change by backing the Clean Power Plan.

Why focus on Sen. Toomey? He has voted to block climate action at every turn, including voting against the Clean Power Plan—America’s historic effort to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Pennsylvanians deserve a senator who will stand up for their health, not push the big polluter agenda.  Our TV ad calls out Sen. Toomey on this vital issue. Climate change is serious in Pennsylvania – communities across Pennsylvania got hit with five heat waves this summer. The state was also soaked with nearly twice the average amount of rain in June. Hot, rainy summers are part of life in the Keystone State, but climate change is making them worse. According to a new report from Penn State, Pennsylvania will experience more destructive storms and be over 5 degrees warmer within 35 years. Experts say that means more smog, asthma attacks, property damage and bankrupt ski resorts.

Pennsylvanians know we need to tackle climate change. Seventy-two percent of Pennsylvania voters, for instance, support the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit climate change pollution from power plants, according to a survey from Hart Research Associates. Even in western coal-producing regions, 63 percent say the EPA should limit this dangerous pollution. And a large majority of Pennsylvania Republicans—58 percent—feels the same.

Unfortunately, so far, instead of representing his constituents’ interests, Sen. Toomey has been taking the side of dirty industries. Sen. Toomey has taken more than $1 million from polluters, and now he wants to let them keep pumping unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air.

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According to the League of Conservation Voter’s analysis, in 2013 Sen. Toomey opposed every single piece of environmental legislation that LCV tracked except one. This includes votes against limits on toxic air pollution from power plants, disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy, Department of Defense investments in biofuels, and safeguards against climate change. He signed on to Senator Mitch McConnell’s 2014 letter urging President Obama to withdraw the Clean Power Plan. And earlier this year, he joined 98 other senators in acknowledging that climate change is not a hoax and that humans play a role in the crisis, but he opposed an amendment stating that humans “significantly” contribute to climate change.

Meanwhile, he has failed to provide or support a single proposal for how the nation can defuse the climate threat.

Solutions exist. America has the clean energy resources we need to slash carbon pollution and shield future generations from the destructive power of climate change. The Clean Power Plan will unleash many of those solutions, and in the process, it will prevent 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year and generate enormous energy and cost savings.

Pennsylvania will reap these benefits. The state is already home to 4,200 clean energy companies—companies have created 57,000 jobs in the state. The wind industry has invested more than $2.7 billion in the state, and the solar sector attracted more than $114 million to Pennsylvania in 2013 alone.  The Clean Power Plan will expand these opportunities. According to an NRDC analysis, Pennsylvania could see the creation of 5,100 new jobs and the state’s households and businesses will save $465 million on their electric bills in 2020 if the state takes a bold approach to reducing carbon pollution.

Yet instead of fostering these benefits, Sen. Toomey is aligning himself with dirty energy donors. It’s time for him to change course and stand with the people of Pennsylvania. It’s time for Sen. Toomey to support the Clean Power Plan—and the good jobs, clean air, and reduced climate risk it will deliver.

Pete Altman is the Climate Campaign Director for the NRDC Action Fund.