Jeb Bush Trashes Father’s Clean Air Legacy to Woo Far Right-Wing

Jeb Bush trashed the Clean Air Act last week. He was speaking to the far right-wing Club for Growth, notorious for mounting mostly unsuccessful challenges from the right against Republican candidates during congressional primaries.

A Washington Post reporter attended the speech and posted some of Bush’s remarks on Twitter:

Jeb Bush hits Clean Air Act, airline regulations & Internet regs at Club for Growth — “stifled the ability for people to rise up.”

So Jeb Bush thinks the Clean Air Act “stifled the ability for people to rise up.” Does he mean polluting corporations that a 5-4 Supreme Court says are people?

Or does he mean that loud clamor for ‘rising up’ by ordinary Americans, who consistently voice very strong support for the Clean Air Act and clean air safeguards, with large majorities across the political spectrum Bob Marley, Mr. Bush ain’t.

Jeb Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 after 89 Senators and 401 House members (including 154 Republicans, all but 16) voted for the law.

President Bush’s signing statement said he took “great pleasure in signing [the Clean Air Act] as a demonstration to the American people of my determination that each and every American shall breathe clean air.”

Newspapers at the time called the president’s signing of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 “the single most distinguished policy achievement of the Bush administration.”

The Clean Air Act is estimated to achieve almost $2 trillion in yearly benefits to the American people by 2020. These vast benefits are delivered in the form of “significant reductions in air pollution” related premature death and illness, improved economic welfare of Americans, and better environmental conditions.” The estimated annual costs to achieve these benefits will be about $65 billion by 2020.

chart 2 jw blog copySo this staggering Bush senior achievement is one that Bush junior singles out for condemnation. It’s bewildering. One might even say it takes one’s breath away.

Does Jeb Bush know of any federal law that accomplishes greater benefits for Americans relative to the cost? Would a law personally acceptable to him need to achieve $3 trillion in benefits compared to an even tinier fraction of costs? Mr. Bush’s applause line for the extreme right does not yield those answers.

Clean Air Act benefits vastly outweighs costs over the entire study period in this exhibit. But what about any impacts to economic growth due to Clean Air Act implementation?

This chart shows that over the period from 1990 through 2008, primarily due to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 signed by President Bush, U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased by more than 64% while the six most common air pollutants regulated by the Act decreased 41%.

chart 1 jw blogStifling, I say.

I cannot help but wonder whether a related clean air benefit prompted Jeb Bush’s condemnation of airline regulations. Does he mean another law signed by his father, one that “banned smoking on all domestic flights of less than six hours?”

I cannot tell you how many flights I have been on since then where stifled passengers were loudly demanding the right to rise up and fill airplane cabins with choking tobacco smoke.

The Post reporter also tweeted this Jeb Bush comment to the Club for Growth: “the first priority for the conservative cause” should be “growth at all cost.”

It makes you wonder what Bush would have said if he were speaking to the Hair Club for Men.

That “growth at all cost” mentality reminded me of an article I had read: “To Tackle Pollution, China to Drop Pursuit of Growth at All Costs.” The “growth at all cost” vision thing espoused by Bush has resulted in China having some of the most despoiled and deadly air pollution in the world.

The Chinese people are rising up alright—against dangerous air pollution.

china pic jw blog

One might even say it’s stifling.

“But, but,” Bush would protest, “that’s an unfair comparison. America’s air quality is nowhere near as bad as China’s.”

Exactly. Thanks to the Clean Air Act that Jeb Bush’s father called “the most significant air pollution legislation in our nation’s history,” a law that “restores America’s place as the global leader in environmental protection.”

 

 

GOP Choice for Response to State of the Union Shows Their True Intentions- Support Dirty Polluters

The GOP is taking another lurch to the far right tonight. Republican leaders have chosen recently elected Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Ernst is a veteran who grew up on an Iowa farm. She is also a pistol-packing, anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Clean-Water-Act opponent endorsed by Sarah Palin, Senator Marco Rubio, and other Tea Party stalwarts.

Her selection offers yet another sign the GOP leadership is doubling down on its Big Polluter Agenda.  Instead of offering solutions to any environmental problems, the GOP is just trying to block any action that polluters oppose.

Ernst burst onto the national scene last year with a pair of attention-grabbing campaign ads. In the first, she tells viewers, “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.” In the second, Ernst rides a Harley and pulls a handgun from her purse. As she fires off a round, an announcer intones: “Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful spending. And when she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s going to unload.”

But those highly visible ads didn’t trumpet Ernst’s support for tearing down the entire structure for protecting health and the environment.

Ernst says, “Let’s shut down the EPA.” Her argument?  “I do believe our states know best how to protect their natural resources,” Ernst said.

But we already know what life would be like without an EPA because we’ve tried it.  And what did we get prior to the creation of the EPA in 1970?  Air pollution so thick you couldn’t see the George Washington Bridge, though you could see Los Angeles’ brown air from space; meanwhile, thanks to lead in gasoline, nearly 90 percent of American children had lead in their blood at levels deemed unsafe by the Center for Disease Control.

The problem with leaving environmental protection up to the states is glaringly obvious — pollution crosses state lines. Mercury from Midwestern power plants ends up in New England, and toxic runoff from Wisconsin flows down the Mississippi River to Iowa. In fact, states assume that the federal government is going to create an environmental safety net.  More than half of all states are precluded by state laws or policy from adopting safeguards stronger than the federal standard. Imagine if that benchmark didn’t exist: we would see a race to the bottom, with some states weakening protections to attract dirty industries.

Maybe it’s not surprising that Ernst wishes away the simple fact that air and water don’t stop at state borders since she also rejects the science of climate change.  In outright denialist fashion Ernst claims that changes in the climate are “natural.” This is at odds with the 97 percent of climate scientists who have concluded that human activity is the main cause of climate change.

Ernst is especially outspoken, but her views are emblematic of the GOP’s Big Polluter Agenda. When it comes to environmental protection, the GOP motto is “Just say ‘no’.”  Congressional Republicans have vowed to block any and all action on climate change; prevent action to limit smog, and stop efforts to protect more waters under the Clean Water Act.  And that’s just for starters.

That’s totally at odds with the majority of Americans. A Washington Post poll found that 7 in 10 people support the EPA’s action to limit climate change pollution. And 78 percent of voters are somewhat or strongly opposed to rolling back drinking water protections, according to a survey by Hart Research Associates.

If voters aren’t driving the GOP agenda, who is? The fossil fuel industry spent $721 million on the 2014 midterm elections—87 percent of it on Republicans. And now the Republican majority is putting polluters’ interests before the public’s right to clean air and water.

Sarah Palin proclaimed, “We’ve got faith in Joni!”  The American people have no reason to echo her.


New Polling Confirms Climate Denier will have Hard Road to Win White House in 2016

As 2014 draws to a close, most people are reflecting on what the New Year will bring. The political junkies among us, however, have skipped ahead to 2016 and the presidential race. And we’ve had plenty of material to parse these last few days. Jeb Bush’s announcement that he will “actively explore” a run exploded on Twitter this week, while Senator Elizabeth Warren’s every move has been tracked by analysts.

This week also offered another insight into presidential politics. A new poll released Thursday shows that a climate denier will have a hard time winning the White House in 2016.

The poll, conducted by Harstad Strategic Research surveyed voters in nine battleground states about their attitudes on climate change and clean energy.

Researchers found that more than two-thirds of likely 2016 voters support the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit climate change pollution from power plants.  That includes 87 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans.

Support was especially strong among voting blocs that will play a big role in electing the next president. A full 70 percent of Latino and African American voters, for instance, favor the EPA’s plan to address climate change. The numbers for women were especially interesting. Sixty-two percent of Independent woman and 59 percent of Republican women want the EPA to rein in the pollution that causes climate change and makes air dirtier and more dangerous to breathe.

If voters want the EPA to tackle climate change pollution, then they won’t want a president to pretend the climate threat doesn’t even exist.

Americans expect leaders to tackle the big problems, not ignore them. Climate change is hitting home, and communities across the nation are paying a price. Whether it is record-breaking drought in California or dangerous flooding in Detroit or devastating fires in Washington State, extreme weather is damaging people’s homes and threatening their health and livelihood. People are looking to elected officials and government agencies to confront this crisis.

Republican leaders should take note. The growing momentum for climate action should inform their choice of 2016 candidates. But it should also make them reconsider their positions right now.

Incoming Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block every effort to reduce climate change pollution, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to continue his course of undermining the EPA whenever possible.

This attack on clean air and climate stability may appeal to polluting industries, but it is not what voters want. The polling released today found that nearly two-thirds of Americans want their US senators to support efforts to address the impacts of climate change on local communities. A full 86 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Republicans agreed.

The Harstad polling—as well as surveys for ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Gallup, and many others –make it clear that voters want leaders to clean up climate change pollution now, and they will bring that desire into the voting booth in 2016. Putting a climate denier on the ticket or spending two years attacking climate action in Congress won’t appeal to this majority of voters, but a champion who makes the air safer to breathe and shields our families from unchecked climate change will.

 

Likely 2016 Voters Want Action on Climate Change

NRDC Action Fund Polling: Key Constituency Support for EPA Clean Power Plan is Strong

WASHINGTON (December 18, 2014) – Today the NRDC Action Fund announced key findings from its first poll conducted with a focus on the attitudes of 2016 voters on climate and clean energy issues. The new poll, following the November 2014 elections, shows that despite millions of dollars in polluter campaign attacks, voter support for climate action has remained steady or increased—including from Republicans, Independents, and other key constituencies.

“A climate denier will have a hard road ahead if he or she wants to win the White House in 2016 because green voters intend to show up,” said Wesley Warren, Policy Advocacy Director for the NRDC Action Fund. “It is obvious in our poll results that 2016 voters want action on climate change. Presidential candidates who argue against taking action are going to be aligning themselves against the majority of voters, including those that are typically key constituencies. In addition, 63 percent of voters want their current U.S. Senators to address the impacts of climate change on their local communities—a warning to Senate leadership that voters will not stand for a Congress that tries to roll back progress on climate action.”

Today’s data follows an NRDC Action Fund poll first conducted in February 2014, in nine states, which showed 67 percent of voters surveyed favored an Environmental Protection Agency plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.

Key findings from today’s release include:

  • Two-thirds of likely 2016 voters favor an EPA plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.
  • Groups of voters who will be important in determining the outcome of the 2016 elections are also highly supportive of the new carbon standards.
    • 85 percent of Democratic Primary Voters
    • 71 percent of younger voters (18-39 years old)
    • 70 percent of Latino/African American voters
    • 62 percent of Independent women
    • 59 percent of Republican women
  • Clear majorities continue to see climate change as a serious problem –far more than dismiss it as a problem.
  • A 2-to-1 majority of 2016 voters prefer investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy over coal, oil, and gas.
  • A large majority of voters want their Senators to address the impacts of climate change.
    • 63 percent of likely 2016 voters
    • 62 percent in red states (AK, AR, LA, NC)
    • 64 percent in blue states (CO, IA, MI, NH, VA)

Andrew Maxfield, Senior Vice-President, Harstad Strategic Research added, “Voters know that there is something wrong with the climate, they can see it, feel it, more with each passing day, and most know something needs to be done.  Likely 2016 voters across many key demographics strongly support limits on dangerous carbon pollution, including 59 percent of Republican women. Addressing climate change is an issue both sides of the aisle will need to address in the next election cycle.”

Polling was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc. from November 18-24, 2014. The survey includes 1,206 voters in nine states. It was paid for by the NRDC Action Fund and NRDC. To view: Polling Results Slide Deck

# # #

The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to grow the environmental majority across America to achieve the passage of legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy, reduces pollution, and sustains vibrant communities for all Americans. Now is the time for leadership and action from our elected officials — our current goal is a comprehensive clean energy policy that will repower our economy and fuel our future. www.nrdcactionfund.org

Note to reporters/editors: The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the NRDC Action Fund engages in various advocacy and political activities for which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, faces certain legal limitations or restrictions. News and information released by the NRDC Action Fund needs to be identified as from the “NRDC Action Fund.” The “Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund” is incorrect. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the NRDC Action Fund can not be used interchangeably. Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

GOP Has No Mandate for Attack on Clean Air and Climate Solutions

Most voters didn’t go the ballot box to demand dirtier air and contaminated water. And yet Republican leaders have proudly proclaimed that gutting environmental safeguards is one of their top priorities for the new Congress. They have vowed to roll back national limits on climate change pollution, strip protections from waterways that feed drinking supplies, and launch a host of other attacks.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says his top priority for the next session is “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”

That’s a bold statement to make when the vast majority of Americans value the EPA’s role in protecting their families from pollution. Seven out of 10 Americans, for instance, support the EPA’s effort to limit climate change pollution from power plants, according to an ABC/Washington Post survey.

The GOP pro-polluter agenda is out of step with what Americans want. Republicans may have gained control of the Senate, but they did not receive a mandate to dismantle environmental safeguards.

Given the dismal voter turnout in the midterms, it’s hard to declare a mandate for anything.

  • 36.2 percent of eligible voters participated in the midterm elections, the lowest turnout since World War II. Even if every single one of them favored the GOP, the party still wouldn’t have the majority of Americans behind them.
  • Several races were settled by small margins. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that Republican Thom Tillis won the North Carolina Senate race by a margin of 1.7 percent—about 48,000 votes.
  • Republicans lost among people under 40 years old and among all minority voters, according to the National Journal.
  • The voting center grew this year: 40 percent of voters identified as moderates, while 36 percent called themselves conservative, down from 42 percent in the 2010 midterms. Fewer voters are calling for the radical changes espoused by the Tea Party.
  • Since the last midterm election, 21 states have enacted more restrictive voting laws, which means fewer people are able to vote and fewer voices are being heard.
  • 69 percent of all dark money—campaign funding from undisclosed donors—went to Republican candidates. The vast majority of it came from the Koch brothers and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads/GPS—polluter friendly groups known for attacking environmental safeguards.  That money means Mitch McConnell may be able to claim the Koch Brothers’ mandate, but certainly not a mandate from the voters.

These numbers paint a picture of a discouraged electorate. Many are tired of the gridlock in Washington; many are overwhelmed by the money in politics. But nowhere in the polling does it say Americans want to breathe dirtier air or get hit by more extreme weather brought on by climate change.

Indeed, exit polling showed that six out of 10 voters leaving the voting booth support the EPA’s effort to limit climate change pollution from power plants.

Republicans won several hard fought races this year, but they would be wise not to let it go to their heads. When candidates won roughly 52 percent of about 36.2 percent of eligible voters, making a declaration of war against the environment sounds like the beginnings of overreach.

Compare those small portions to the 98 percent of scientists who say climate change is a serious threat to our health and wellbeing. Now that’s what I call a mandate for action.