When Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, she made clear the main reason for her decision: the threat of global warming. Clinton called the pipeline “a distraction from the important work we have to do on climate change.”
Clinton is not alone in emphasizing climate change on the campaign trail. Every Democratic presidential candidate has made clean energy and other climate solutions a central part of their platform. Smart Congressional candidates are doing the same.
They understand that addressing climate change will make America stronger. They also know the vast majority of voters are looking for climate leadership.
More than two-thirds of Americans support government limits on carbon pollution, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. And 48 percent of Republicans said they were more likely to cast their ballots for candidates who tackle climate change, according to a New York Times/Stanford survey.
This election cycle, many Congressional candidates are demonstrating their commitment to climate action by supporting the Clean Power Plan. This national plan gives states a great deal of flexibility in how they reduce carbon pollution from power plants. All 50 states will gain new jobs, cleaner air and savings on energy bills. In other words, the Clean Power Plan touches on what most voters care about most: health, jobs and savings accounts.
Plenty of GOP leaders will continue to be mired in climate denial and inaction, but strong candidates will lead on the issue. NRDC Action Fund research found that candidates who run on clean energy and climate action are more likely to win their races. Talking about the benefits of the Clean Power Plan will help them do it.
Public Health: Cleaner air means fewer trips to the ER for our kids’ asthma or our parents’ heart attacks. Yet climate change contributes to higher levels of smog, which is linked to respiratory illness, heart conditions and premature deaths. The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will help reduce this pollution and prevent 90,000 asthma attacks a year. This will be especially welcome news in Florida, Colorado, and others states home to a large number of Latinos, 50 percent of whom live where pollution levels are often too toxic to breathe safely.
Savings Accounts: Spending less on energy bills puts more money in our pockets. The fastest and cheapest way for states to meet their carbon pollution limits is to help people make homes and businesses more energy efficient. Incentives for installing efficient windows, furnaces, air conditioners and other solutions will drive down energy use—and the cost of our monthly bills as well. In addition, the EPA is offering states extra incentives to help low-income communities put money-saving energy efficiency measures in place. Taken together, the Clean Power Plan will help Americans save a total of $155 billion on our electric bills between 2020 and 2030.
Economic Growth: The clean energy economy is booming. Renewable energy attracted $38 billion in investments in American communities last year, and that’s just the beginning. Renewable projects are expected to roughly double by 2030 under the Clean Power Plan, and efficiency programs will also expand. This will generate more good-paying jobs in every state in the nation. Candidates can point to the success of clean energy industries in their states as a sign of the growth to come. For example, Indiana Senate candidate Baron Hill can say that his state is already in the top 10 for clean energy job growth. And, in the crowded race to fill Senator Marco Rubio’s seat in the Senate, for instance, campaigners can highlight the 130,000 Floridians working in the clean energy sector, 100,000 of them in energy efficiency.
Future Generations: Climate change is already hitting home. Candidates have all too many examples of how it can intensify extreme weather, from prolonged drought in Nevada to recording-breaking downpours in Indiana to repeated flooding at high tide in Florida. But they can also offer a solution. Reducing carbon pollution today will help shield future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now.