What America Can Learn from New Mexico

Today U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) stood on the floor of the Senate and delivered his first speech as the newly elected Senator from New Mexico. The first floor speech for any member of Congress is a monumental occasion and sets the course for his or her term of office. While Senator Heinrich had a plethora of topics to choose from, he chose to focus on energy and climate change and how his state has and will shape our future.

Not Surprised

Senator Heinrich is a champion for conservation and energy innovation. We knew that when we supported him in his bid for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 election. So today’s speech came as no surprise to us at the Action Fund.

Senator Heinrich shared many of these thoughts with the Action Fund when he sat down for an interview for our Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics report and video series.

Heinrich_interview1

(Click on picture to view video)

In his interview Senator Heinrich said, “I think it’s important for people to realize that this new cleaner energy economy is coming. And it’s not only critical to addressing climate change, but there are going to be winners and losers within that economy. And there are going to be people and countries who lead and there will be other countries that are going to be following and catching up. I want to make sure that not only New Mexico, but the United States is a leader in that. That we realize the jobs and the layers of jobs from the people who manufacture these technologies to the people who install it, to the people who maintain these technologies. You want to maximize your economic impact as part of this new economy by having all of those things done here. We need to move our energy portfolio in a cleaner, more domestic direction over time. It’s not about being right; it’s about moving the country forward.”

New Mexico as National Leader

In his speech today, Senator Heinrich spoke to the fact that New Mexico has built its economy around innovation and technology. Collaborations between the state’s national labs, research universities, defense installations and private sector companies have created jobs and lead the way on developing new frontiers.

He went on to remind everyone that while we are entitled to our own set of opinions, none of us are entitled to our own set of facts, especially in the context of climate change. He urged the Senate to better use facts, data and science to address the challenges we are facing as a nation as our climate continues to change. And in a bold statement, he called on his fellow Senate members to think big and to commit to solving climate change within the decade.

Refreshing

In today’s political environment, isn’t it refreshing to see a candidate elected on his principles and then sticking to them once they arrive in Washington, DC? Senator Heinrich is part of a new crop of leaders from a state ready to lead on progressive energy and climate policy that will protect our health, environment and create jobs. This type of courageous and inspiring leadership will be our nation’s path to energy and climate security and economic prosperity.

 

 

Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Harrison, NRDC Action Fund, 202-513-6278, mharrison@nrdc.org

Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics

NRDC Action Fund Report & Videos Show Success of Clean Energy Candidates in 2012

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2012) – Americans overwhelmingly supported clean energy candidates in the 2012 elections, despite the massive investments by polluters pushing their dirty agenda. Election night polling showed that, regardless of partisanship lines or demographics, nearly 2 in 3 voters, 64 percent, say they have a favorable impression of renewable energy, compared to only 13 percent who say they have an unfavorable impression. When given the chance to choose a future of investing in renewable energy sources and a clean energy economy, voters time and time again chose the candidates who were Running Clean, according to a new report and video series released today by the NRDC Action Fund.

Today, the NRDC Action Fund released Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics an in-depth report and video series produced biennially. In the report, the NRDC Action Fund highlights multiple successful candidates who chose to run their campaigns on clean energy, protecting the environment and public health and conserving our natural resources. These hard-fought campaigns demonstrated that America’s leaders can be proud to support a clean agenda that fosters good jobs, healthy families, conservation and a more sustainable future.  This cycle the report contains case studies on: President Barack Obama and Senator Angus King (I-Maine) with additional video interviews with Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).  

At a press conference in Washington, DC the NRDC Action Fund showed Senator Tim Kaine’s video for the first time. In his video interview Senator Kaine says, “Virginians really believe this is an important issue to tackle, and so I could comfortably do events with environmental organizations or with the environmental community because I knew that was right. I mean it’s what I believe, but I also knew it was right where my voters were.”

“The last election cycle showcased candidates who were able to prove that running clean is not just good policy, it is a winning political strategy,” said Peter Lehner, NRDC Action Fund Executive Director. “The NRDC Action Fund produced Running Clean as a roadmap for future candidates who want solid evidence that supporting clean energy and protecting the environment will help provide them a path to electoral victory.”

“It’s simple, Running Clean works,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, NRDC Action Fund Director. “Supporting candidates who run on platforms which endorse clean energy investments, protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources will help us grow the environmental majority across America. Candidates from both sides of the aisle should be looking for opportunities to embrace these issues. Ultimately, these are the values represented by their voters and what’s best for our future.”

The Running Clean report and videos can be found online at www.nrdcactionfund.org/runningclean. To read the report: Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics. To view the video interviews:

            Senator Tim Kaine

            Senator Jon Tester

            Senator Martin Heinrich

            Senator Mazie Hirono

To request hard copies of the report please contact Melissa Harrison at mharrison@nrdc.org.

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The goal of the NRDC Action Fund is to grow the environmental majority across America. The Action Fund is growing power in the places that always matter around the country, so that together we can protect public health and the environment. 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 cannot be used interchangeably.  Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

A Climate Plan is Good Politics

Guessing the contents of the State of the Union is a favorite Washington parlor game this time of year. I am putting my money on the issue of climate change. After President Obama devoted a chunk of his Inaugural Address to laying out the moral and economic imperatives on why we must act to curb climate change, I hope to hear his plans for moving us forward towards that goal during the State of the Union.

Many Americans are eager to hear how we can confront this crisis. Now that intense drought, heat waves, storms and other extreme weather are bearing down on our communities, many voters are calling for action. In September, the majority of voters favored candidates who agree the Environmental Protection Agency should reduce carbon pollution, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling.

The White House and other Democratic leaders are responding to the call and deepening their climate commitment. Many Republicans, however, are heading in the opposite direction.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently announced that one of its central strategies for the 2014 election cycle will be attacking Democrats for their efforts to address climate change.

That’s right. They want to pillory lawmakers for trying to solve the single greatest environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time. They want to punish them for trying to reduce pollution that is pumping weather systems with steroids and contributing to 14 extreme events costing more $1 billion each in losses in 2011 and 11 $1 billion extreme events in 2012.

This tone deaf response isn’t just bad for our nation. It’s bad for GOP candidates.

In the 2012 election, Americans swept climate champions into office up and down the ticket. In race after race, climate deniers and anti-regulatory candidates got millions of dollars from polluting industries, but they didn’t get the votes.  

George Allen, for instance, tried to win the Virginia Senate race with nearly $12 million from Karl Rove’s Super PACs and $4.5 million from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Allen worked as a consultant for a climate denial outfit and wanted to open Virginia’s coast to oil and gas drilling. His Democratic opponent Tim Kaine, meanwhile, told voters, “We need a national energy policy that takes immediate advantage of Virginia and America’s own energy resources to end our dependence on foreign oil.” Despite the millions spent on dirty ad blitzes, Virginians chose Kaine’s clean energy vision for their state.

A similar pattern played out in several states across the country, including decidedly red states. The National Republican Senatorial Committee plan for 2014 singled out Montana as a place where it would attack candidates’ climate action. Yet this approach ignores the fact that Senator John Tester just won reelection after running on clean energy and talking about what global warming is doing to his dryland farm in Central Montana. “History will judge us on how we deal with climate,” Tester has said.

Several newly elected Senators agree. Last weekend, I visited with Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. He told me that the people of New Mexico see what is happening to their land and the world around them and they want action.

And yet the GOP is doubling down on a losing climate strategy that will continue to alienate Americans.  Including one of the most coveted demographic groups: young people. Young people know that if America continues its climate paralysis, their generation will pay the price. John Carson, the former director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the new executive director of Organizing for America, says that if you asked young volunteers on the Obama campaign why they got involved in politics, the largest majority answered the environment. Young voters believe they can make a difference, and so they mobilize. GOP candidates who run on climate denial probably won’t be getting their votes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Some Republican leaders are sensing the changing demographic winds and moderating their positions. Senator Mark Rubio, for instance, supports immigration reform. Senator Mark Kirk—and NRA member—is talking about gun control. There is room for Republicans to lead on climate as well.

In the meantime, we will be looking to President Obama to set our country on a path toward climate stability. He can start by talking about it in the State of the Union Address. We will just have to wait and see if some Republicans respond by dumping the losing strategy of climate denial.

What Role Will the Environment Play in the U.S. Senate Debate in New Mexico?

The candidates for New Mexico’s open Senate seat meet in their first debate this Thursday night.  Former Republican U.S. Representative Heather Wilson is vying with Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-1) for the seat.

As Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta launches hundreds of hot air balloons into the clear blue sky of New Mexico this week, will moderator Dick Knipfing question Heather Wilson about her environmental positions on clear air and clean water?

During Heather Wilson’s term in the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2009, she voted four times to shield producers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE—a toxic fuel additive to gasoline and potential human carcinogen) from lawsuits against producers who contaminated water in 30 locations around New Mexico. This included public water wells that supplied the Edgewood Elementary School in Edgewood, NM, and water systems that served over 39,000 residents.

Meanwhile, Wilson accepted $61,500 in contributions from the three major producers of MTBE sued by the state in the years surrounding her votes.  She also accepted contributions from other oil producers and refiners who used MTBE.

Wilson has cited Rep. Heinrich’s “extreme environmental positions” in several of her negative ads including one paid for by the Chamber of Commerce. 

In an interview on PBS affiliate KNME last week, she was very clear about her stance opposing Heinrich’s votes against the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline and against taxpayer subsidies and regulatory breaks for big oil and gas.  She supports the Keystone pipeline even though it would provide no jobs in New Mexico and would not be a source of oil for the state. She said that “clean” coal is a secure, low-cost and stable source of American energy.

Heinrich’s ads have correctly characterized Wilson as a candidate lost in the past—the past of toxic and polluting fossil fuels—and out of step with the clean energy opportunities for a state whose people clearly support the clean energy revolution with many solar, wind and geothermal projects already underway on private and public land.

As thousands of people gather to celebrate the beauty of New Mexico’s skies this week, voters should petition KRQE-TV 13 and anchor Dick Knipfing to address Heather Wilson’s record on preserving New Mexico’s fragile environment.

Democratic candidate U. S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) and Republican candidate Heather Wilson debate in Albuquerque on KRQE News 13, at 6:00 p.m. Mountain time.

 

 

NRDC Action Fund & ProgressNow New Mexico Take to the ‘Air’ to Support Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate in New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Melissa Harrison, NRDC Action Fund, 202-486-1905, mharrison@nrdc.org

Pat Davis, ProgressNow New Mexico, 505-750-0012, pat@progressnownm.org

Special Message in the Sky for College Football Spectators

WASHINGTON/LAS CRUCES (September 21, 2012) – On September 22, football fans attending the in-state rivalry football game between New Mexico and New Mexico State weren’t just watching the action on the field. They were also treated to a unique ‘pass play’ in the sky as a plane flew over the stadium with a special message about Heather Wilson and her ties to big oil.

NRDC Action Fund and ProgressNow New Mexico sponsored the plane with lighted messaging urging voters to support Martin Heinrich in his bid for U.S. Senate. Messages like: Heather Wilson: Scoring TDs 4 polluters since 1998 scorlled by spectators as the plane flew overhead. They can also visit www.WilsonWater.info to learn more about how Heather Wilson chose to side with polluters and their big checks rather than the health and safety of New Mexico residents.

“Heather Wilson’s actions against protecting the drinking water of New Mexico families are so egregious they deserve to be written in the sky so everyone can see them,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, NRDC Action Fund Director. “We supported Martin Heinrich early in this race because we know he is a true environmental champion who will stand up to corporate polluters. New Mexico voters continue to say they want a Senator who will protect their precious resources and their health. Heinrich’s record on these issues is impeccable and that’s why he’s leading in the polls. We will continue to take this message to the voters until Election Day, although next time it may be via the ground.”

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The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is 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

ProgressNow New Mexico is a non-partisan non-profit advocacy group uniting and enhancing New Mexico’s progressive voice. ProgressNowNM.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.