Mark Udall: Clean Before Clean was Cool

It looks like 2014 may be the year that politicians and pundits finally catch on to what we’ve been saying for years: Running Clean makes smart political sense and candidates from both parties should be supporting clean energy. But in the Colorado Senate race, there’s one candidate who has been supporting clean energy since before it was cool: Senator Mark Udall. Looking at Udall’s record, it’s clear that he is truly committed to clean because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s politically expedient.

Udall has a strong and consistent record on clean energy, climate change and environmental protection that spans more than a decade as a federal legislator. Udall has been a champion for renewable energy, serving as the lead sponsor of House bills to create a national renewable electricity standard, co-chairing the 2004 effort to create a state renewable energy standard (RES) through referendum in Colorado and currently co-chairing the Senate Renewable Energy and Efficiency Caucus. Udall has led efforts to create wilderness in Colorado, to provide tax incentives for clean energy, to improve air and water quality, and to improve national security by reducing the military’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Udall’s opponent, Congressman Cory Gardner, is trying to reap the benefits of voters’ support for clean energy without actually supporting clean energy. Gardner filmed one of his ads in the middle of a wind farm and claimed that he “co-wrote the law to launch our state’s green energy industry.” Unfortunately for Gardner, that law was repealed five years later and wasn’t credited with creating a single clean energy job.

The truth is that Gardner is a #DirtyDenier$.  He has denied the human contribution to climate change, he has voted to deny EPA’s scientific finding that carbon pollution is a threat to human health, and he has repeatedly voted to protect taxpayer subsidies for oil companies while voting to eliminate them for clean energy pioneers. He’s also voted against just about anything else that might improve the environment from ocean health to clean water to clean air.

With that record, it should come as no surprise that the oil and gas industry are the largest contributors to his campaign’s bank account. In just four years in Congress, Gardner has raised $695,000 from the oil and gas industry and the oil billionaire Koch Brothers are showing their appreciation for his dirty voting record by investing millions in their own advertising campaigns designed to prop up Gardner.

When Colorado voters go to the polls in November, they’d be wise to remember which candidate’s record matches his rhetoric. There’s only one clean candidate in this race, and that’s incumbent senator Mark Udall.

Want more election coverage? Visit www.nrdcactionfund.org for weekly updates on key races featuring environmental champions. 

#DirtyDenier$ Day 20: Senator James Inhofe

James Inhofe

Though the winds often come sweeping down the plains in Oklahoma, they have not blown hard enough to clear away the misguided, misleading views of Senator James Inhofe. Inhofe is a top ranking Dirty Denier because of his campaign funding from dirty sources and his terrible votes against the environment.

In addition, Inhofe wrote the book, literally, on climate denialism (The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, published in 2012). His whacky views on climate change take a page from the playbook of the most conservative groups promoting dirty fossil fuels. And if Republicans take control of the Senate, Inhofe would be in line to be chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he would have a stranglehold on environmental progress.

He has received an astounding $1,671,521 in contributions to his campaign committee and Leadership PAC from the oil & gas industry over the course of his political career, including $489,250 in the 2014 election cycle alone. Among his top contributors are individuals and political action committees associated with Koch Industries, the multinational corporation run by the libertarian oil baron Koch brothers and their cronies, and a leading funder of climate change denialism, and  Murray Energy, the largest underground coal mining company in America, which has sued the EPA multiple times and has an outspoken climate changer denier as CEO.

Oil companies ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Exxon Mobil, and OGE Energy are also among the top Inhofe contributors over the course of his career. Maybe they like Inhofe’s  outrageous claims, such as calling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “Gestapo bureaucracy”, and saying that “those individuals from the far left want us to believe it’s because we are contributing CO2 to the atmosphere, that’s causing global warming. It’s all about money.”

He has launched a full-on attack of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan. Inhofe consistently votes against the environment: he has taken numerous votes against cleaning up carbon pollution, against cleaning up pollution in our air and water from power plants and industrial farms, and against funds for disaster relief and shoreline planning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Yet he strongly supports subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries despite their record profits and lower than average tax rate. This is why he has a lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters of only 5 percent, among the very worst in the Senate.

Our advice: While Senator Inhofe continues to deny humans are contributing to climate change, 67 percent of Oklahomans want “the government to step in and limit greenhouse gas emissions from industry.” Senator Inhofe needs to start aligning his votes with his constituents. It’s time for action to protect Oklahomans and Americans across the country from the health and environmental impacts of the dirty, old fossil fuels industry.

Dirty Denier$ Day 19: Congressman Fred Upton

Fred Upton

Today’s Dirty Denier$ is Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan and Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton has used his leadership position to try to move the nation backward, and his record on clean air and climate change keeps getting worse.

Upton has been all over the map on the facts about climate change.  In 2011, he said he didn’t believe humans are contributing to global climate change. Since then, he’s been mostly silent on that basic issue, but he’s been loud in his opposition to doing anything about climate. He has used extreme rhetoric to characterize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, calling it “an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs” and a “train wreck.

And consider that one of the first bills that Upton sponsored upon assuming the chairmanship of the committee would have permanently blocked EPA from doing anything at all to address carbon pollution. Moreover, the bill would have increased America’s dependence on oil by undermining efficiency standards for motor vehicles, and cost consumers $58 billion. Upton has also given his blessing to multiple bills to undo various aspects of the Clean Air Act.

The dirty fuel interests that have given nearly $2 million in campaign contributions to Upton over the course of his career are no doubt pleased with his record. However, the same can’t be said for his constituents back home. According to recent polling from the NRDC Action Fund in key states including Michigan, overwhelming majorities of voters in that group of states support strong action to stop dangerous carbon pollution. This includes 53% of Republicans. Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder has said, “People may not agree about why climate change is happening, but it is certainly affecting Michigan.”

Michigan has a lot to gain from a clean energy policy. In 2013 alone, Michigan announced more than 1700 jobs in the renewable energy sector, placing it 12th in the country for new job creation. And in a signal that better days are ahead for both the economy and the environment, 380 of those jobs were in clean vehicle manufacturing.

Our advice: It’s time for Congressman Upton to once again reinvent himself. It’s time to stop being a Dirty Denier$ and start being a clean energy champion for his state.

 

 

#DirtyDenier$ Day 10: Senator John Boozman

John Boozman

Arkansas Senator John Boozman may have done well as an optometrist before he was first elected to public office in 2000. But, when he shares his views on energy policy, it appears he needs to get his vision checked. His short-sighted plan for our nation’s energy mix would put America and the world on a path to a dangerous and dirty future.

Boozman clearly doesn’t understand the clear and present danger from climate change, nor grasp the economic opportunities of renewable energy. He has stated that acting to limit carbon pollution would “destroy our economy” and has signed the Koch Industries’ Americans for Prosperity No Climate Tax Pledge.

Boozman’s views echo those of oil and gas lobbying groups. The fossil fuel industry contributed $87,402 to his campaign since 2009. Those lobbyists for dirty industries must have been pleased with Boozman’s outspoken support for expanding offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to exploitation.

With seats on two key Senate environmental committees, Boozman is in a good position to push the oil and gas industry’s agenda. He has voted to continue subsidizing wealthy oil companies while also reducing their corporate income taxes. He is also currently pushing hard to block the EPA from reducing dangerous carbon pollution from power plants, even co-sponsoring a resolution to do so. His voting record reads like a hit list on the environment. That’s why his lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters is a miserable 8 percent.

Our advice:  When four former EPA Administrators who served under Republican Presidents recently testified in his committee, Boozman’s laughable response got him a climate change eye exam on the Daily Show. Boozman should stop listening to oil and gas interests, and support policies that keep his constituents healthy and that move us toward clean, abundant renewable energy sources for our future.

 

 

 

#DirtyDenier$ Day 7: Congressman Leonard Lance

Leonard Lance

When it comes to environmental protections and addressing climate change, Congressman Leonard Lance is, in the words of Lewis Carroll, getting “curiouser and curiouser.”

Lance once had a respectable environmental record.  Not so long ago, in 2009, the New Jersey 7th District lawmaker helped pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that would have limited carbon pollution from power plants. Back then, Lance earned a 71 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters for supporting key environmental measures, placing him squarely in the moderate wing of the GOP, which has since has gone the way of the dodo.

And Congressman Lance? Nowadays, he’s become a consistent supporter of the GOP leadership’s far-right agenda to weaken public health safeguards for our air, land, water and climate, and that’s why he’s landed on the Daily Dirty Denier$ list.

Lance backed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to limit power plant carbon pollution, a bill empowering other agencies to stop EPA action on climate, a bill making it next to impossible to create any new public safeguards in any area, and he opposed a bill affirming the scientific findings of climate change.

He voted for amendments by House GOP colleagues Reps. Murphy, Lankford, and McKinley disavowing the costs of climate change.

The new (but certainly not improved) Rep. Lance isn’t shy about his conservative makeover. He’s backed the major budget plans proposed by GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan that would drastically cut environmental protections. Not surprisingly his League of Conservation Voters rating plummeted to 21 percent in 2013 and will be kept low by his anti-environment votes this year.

Among his major campaign donors has been the Every Republican is Crucial PAC, a political action committee headed by the right-wing former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Our advice: Lance should get back in line with his district, and the majority in the nation, by favoring strong federal environmental safeguards and taking action against the growing threat of climate change.