Toomey Votes Out of Touch with Pennsylvanians

Senator Toomey’s home in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley is only about 3 hours from Washington, DC, but judging from the senator’s voting record the past few weeks, it seems a world away. Toomey has cast one vote after another designed to block action on climate change, undermine clean energy growth, and weaken protections for air and water.

Meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of residents have been calling for the exact opposite.

A full 72 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 Pennsylvanian Republicans—58 percent—feels the same.

Toomey hasn’t gotten the message. The NRDC Action Fund gave him a Dirty Denier award last year for voting against every piece of environmental legislation except one in 2013. Now he is siding with the GOP leadership’s Big Polluter Agenda instead of his state’s own interests.

Perhaps it has something to do with the $445,966 Toomey has received from the oil and gas industries. Or the $865,283 he’s gotten from the conservative Club for Growth, an organization which consistently opposes climate action and where Toomey served as president from 2005 through 2009.

It’s time to bring the news home. Washington, DC is not Las Vegas, and what happens here shouldn’t stay here. People deserve to know what Toomey’s polluter-friendly votes could mean for Pennsylvania.

The nation’s leading experts report that, if we fail to reduce climate change pollution, stronger heat waves and smoggier air will pose significant threats to Pennsylvanians’ health. They also will be hit by more intense storms and floods, like those that came with Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.

You wouldn’t know it based on Toomey’s votes when the Senate took up the GOP’s Keystone XL bill.

Climate Denial: Toomey voted to acknowledge 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. That’s like refusing to say gravity “significantly” contributes to falling objects. Overwhelming evidence confirms that pollution from human activity causes climate change. To shy away from these facts in any way is to deny scientific reality. And to fail to offer any solutions is to leave Americans vulnerable to harm.

Clean Energy Blockade: More than 57,000 Pennsylvanians currently work at 4,200 clean energy businesses across the state. Yet Toomey voted down two amendments that would help solar and wind industries expand—even as he supports giving dirty fossil fuels a free pass from cleaning up their pollution.

Dirty Air: Toomey and his colleague from Pennsylvania, Democratic Senator Casey, introduced an amendment that would give power plants that burn “waste coal” a free pass on clean air safeguards. These protections reduce acid rain pollution and sulfur dioxide linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.  Pennsylvania has 14 of these plants, and though many similar plants already meet the standards, this amendment would exempt the Keystone State’s polluters—leaving residents to breathe dirtier air.

It’s disappointing to see Casey co-sponsor this dirty amendment, especially when he is usually a champion of clean energy and climate action.

Lawmakers of both parties would be wise to refocus on building a sustainable energy future for their state. Most Pennsylvanians want to tackle climate change and clean up pollution. And those same voters will be going to the polls in 2016 when Senator Toomey is up for reelection.


DirtyDenier$ Day 14: Pat Toomey

Pat Toomey

One look at Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s voting record in 2013 explains why he is the winner of our next Dirty Denier$ award. He voted against every piece of environmental legislation except one. This includes votes against disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy, military investments in biofuels, clean water protections, climate change safeguards, toxic air pollution from power plants—even the confirmation Gina McCarthy as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

To top off his dirty votes, Senator Toomey’s number one campaign contributor is the conservative Club for Growth, which has donated $865,283 to him. He served as the Club’s president after leaving the House of Representatives and before winning a seat in the Senate in 2010. The Club has a history of opposing action on climate change and wrongly asserting that climate action would impose tremendous costs on the American economy. He has also received $445,966 from the oil and gas industries.

He’s certainly continued to make the Club and his polluter donors happy.  Senator Toomey has earned a lifetime score of just 9 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and was named to their Dirty Dozen in 2010. In naming him to the Dirty Dozen, LCV cited his support for “dangerous oil drilling off of America’s coasts as well as in Lake Erie” and “his staunch opposition to comprehensive energy and climate legislation that creates jobs, reduces pollution and increases our national security a key part of his campaign.” It’s not just his voting record and campaign contributions from dirty polluters which show he’s a dirty denier, he’s said it himself. When running for Senate in 2010, Toomey said that the notion that humans are causing global warming is “very much disputed.”

Our advice: Get the facts, Senator Toomey. The science behind global warming isn’t in doubt. Get up to speed and start taking action. Otherwise, you might find your constituents taking action to elect someone who will.


Rep. Altmire: Your Pants Are Officially On Fire

Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire is learning a hard lesson this week: When you vote repeatedly for bills that will mean more illness and death for your constituents, you have to expect to “own” those votes.

And make no mistake about it, Rep. Altmire has repeatedly voted to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from protecting public health and Pennsylvania families from dangerous mercury pollution and smog. (HR2250, House Vote 791, 10/13/11; HR2681, House Vote 764, 10/6/11; HR2401, House Vote 741, 9/23/11; HR1, House Vote 86, 2/17/11).

That’s why the League of Conservation Voters and the NRDC Action Fund is running this TV spotin Rep. Altmire’s congressional District.

In his defense … well, it isn’t much of a defense, really. So, let’s let Rep. Altmire speak for himself and then look at the facts in each case.

Altmire complains that “Once again, a Washington, D.C.-based special interest group has come into western Pennsylvania…”

Funny, Altmire doesn’t seem to have any problem with Washington, D.C. when it comes to fat-cat campaign contributions from energy and other industries. In fact, an analysis of his contributors reveals that his four biggest donors have Washington, D.C. addresses and five out of his top ten donors are based in Washington, DC.

Altmire says: “When I travel around Western Pennsylvania to discuss the factors holding back our economic recovery, onerous EPA regulations are at the top of the list.”

We say: Not so much. According to polling conducted by several different business groups, regulations are NOT on the top of the list:

  • The Small Business Majority (SBM) recently released a report, “Small Business Owners Believe National Standards Supporting Energy Innovation Will Increase Prosperity for Small Firms,” which found only 13 percent of small business owners believe regulation is the biggest problem facing their businesses.
  • McClatchy/Tribune News Services recently surveyed a random sample of small business owners nationwide and found Big Business rhetoric over regulation to be completely overblown. Under the headline “Regulations, taxes aren’t killing small business, owners say”, McClatchy/Tribune News reported that “McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business. Their response was surprising. None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it.”
  • The National Federation of Small Business (NFIB) polls reveal that only 14 percent of their members consider regulations the “single most important problem” their business faces.
  • Even the U.S. Chamber’s own survey of small business shows small business owners do not name regulations as a major cause holding back job growth. Only 8% of Chamber members say that “Too much regulation” is the greatest obstacle to hiring new employees.

Altmire says: “I represent 700,000 residents of Western Pennsylvania and live here myself, along with my family,” said Altmire. “To imply that I would support any legislation that would promote an unhealthy environment and pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink is preposterous.”

It is preposterous to think that any Member of Congress would do such a thing. The only problem here is that’s exactly what Rep. Altimire did.

Here are the facts:

  • One of his anti-EPA votes repeals a clean air standard estimated to save as many as 2,900 lives per year in Pennsylvania alone.
  • Another Altmire vote would allow out-of-state power plants to continue dumping smog and soot pollution into the air would harm the 260,000 asthmatic kids in Pennsylvania, including the 32,500 kids in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence Counties – not to mention the more than 120,000 asthmatic adults in those counties.
  • And as our ad mentions, nearly one in ten women of child-bearing age in the region have blood mercury levels high enough to pose a risk to a developing baby.

Altmire says: “These regulations would dramatically raise our electricity rates and make it impossible for local energy producers to compete economically and to continue employing thousands of western Pennsylvania workers.”

Nonsense. Exelon and Constellation Energy, both major power producers with coal and fossil-fuel plants in Pennsylvania, support the stronger standards. In fact, a group of power companies subject to stronger EPA standards said of them: “these air regulations will not impact rates dramatically. Rather, the capital investments related to these regulations will create needed jobs and will yield many hundreds of billions of dollars in annual health benefits.”

Given that none of Rep Altmire’s rationales for stripping away health protections from his own constituents holds up to scrutiny, constituents can fairly ask the question: why is Representative Altmire protecting polluters, instead of our kids and families?

LCV, NRDC Action Fund Launch $350K Ad Buy Blasting Rep. Altmire for Voting Against Kids’ Health

Votes to Block Mercury, Smog Protections Expose More Pennsylvania Families to Dangerous Pollution


PENNSYLVANIA – Today, the League of Conservation Voters and NRDC Action Fund launched a new television ad in Pennsylvania’s 4th district blasting Representative Jason Altmire for voting to repeal important health safeguards under the Clean Air Act and delay or weaken others. The television ad will run on broadcast and cable in the Pittsburgh media market.

“Endangering the health of Pennsylvania families will not create jobs nor will poisoning the air we breathe jumpstart the economy, yet Congressman Altmire has continually voted for toxic legislation that would block the EPA’s efforts to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution like mercury, smog, and soot,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “Congressman Altmire should stop siding with corporate polluters and start standing up for the men, women and children of Pennsylvania whose health he is jeopardizing with each of these votes.”

Rep. Altmire has voted repeatedly to block the EPA from protecting public health and Pennsylvania families from dangerous mercury pollution and smog. (HR2250, House Vote 791, 10/13/11; HR2681, House Vote 764, 10/6/11; HR2401, House Vote 741, 9/23/11; HR1, House Vote 86, 2/17/11).

“Representative Altmire’s votes tear down the healthy air safeguards needed to protect families, especially kids and pregnant mothers, from dangerous, life-threatening air pollution,” said NRDC Action Fund Director Heather Taylor-Miesle. “There are nearly 25,000 asthmatic kids in Allegheny County alone who would have benefitted from the cleaner air that Representative Altmire is blocking. We think they need protecting a lot more than polluters do.”

The television ad focuses on Rep. Altmire’s votes to put women and children at risk in Pennsylvania by blocking mercury pollution protections. With several more attacks on healthy air expected in the U.S. House, including likely upcoming votes on bills which would block pollution safeguards from new power plants and indefinitely delay new protections, the ad urges Rep. Altmire’s constituents to contact him to tell him to vote the right way on these critical public health issues.

Two other members of the Pennsylvania delegation, Representatives Tim Holden (PA-17) and Lou Barletta (PA-11) were the subject of television ads in October for their dirty air votes.

While largely supporting the ongoing pro-polluter agenda in the U.S. House, Rep. Altmire has received almost $400,000 in campaign contributions from dirty energy interests over the course of his career. [Center for Responsive Politics]

View the ad here:

NRDC Action Fund, LCV Blast Pennsylvania Rep. Altmire for Voting Against Kids’ Health

Throughout this year, Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-4) has voted repeatedly to repeal, delay and weaken the important healthy air safeguards our kids and families need to protect us from dangerous smog, soot, mercury and other toxic air pollution.

So we’ve teamed up with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) to make sure Rep. Altmire doesn’t get away with voting against our kids’ and families’ health with this hard-hitting TV ad that makes clear just how dangerous Rep. Altmire’s votes have been:

We want Rep. Altmire and all members of Congress to know that they’ll be held accountable for all votes that put kids’ and our families’ health at risk. In Allegheny County alone, there are nearly 25,000 asthmatic kids who are vulnerable to more frequent and severe asthma attacks because of Rep. Altmire’s votes. We think they need protecting a lot more than polluters do.

Here are the highlights of Rep. Altmire’s votes against healthy air this year:

  • September: Altmire Voted for the TRAIN Act. This bill repeals and delays standards that protect kids and families from dangerous air pollution. It repeals the Cross-State Air Pollution standard, which would reduce soot and smog pollution from power plants. It delays the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which would reduce mercury and other toxic pollutants like arsenic, dioxin, and formaldehyde from power plants. The bill eliminates any actual deadlinesfor EPA to re-issue health standards, allowing these life-saving standards to be blocked indefinitely– effectively repealing clean air safeguards that would prevent thousands of deaths and illnesses. Finally, the bills eviscerate the legal authority for EPA to re-issue protective standards.Health impact: 139,500 deaths, 66,000 hospital visits, and 1 million asthma attacks over the next seven years – and over 25,000 additional deaths every year after.
  • October: Voted to block EPA from cleaning up cement plants. By supporting H.R. 2681, Altmire voted to roll back current standards to limit toxic pollution such as mercury, lead, and cancer-causing dioxins from cement plants. The bill Altmire supported eviscerates strong toxic air pollution standards for these plants and eliminates Clean Air Act compliance deadlines for these life-saving standards, meaning companies’ compliance with any future toxic air pollution standards could be delayed indefinitely. See more details here.Health impact: 11,250 deaths.
  • October: Altmire votes to prevent cleanup of toxic pollution from incinerators and industrial boilers.Altmire voted for H.R. 2250, which repeals and weakens Clean Air Act safeguards slated to reduce mercury, toxic metals, acid gases and other hazardous air pollution from incinerators and other industrial polluters. The bill Altmire supported also repeals Clean Air Act compliance deadlines for these life-saving standards, meaning companies’ compliance with any future toxic air pollution standards could be delayed indefinitely.. .See more details here.Health impact: Up to 22,750 deaths, during just the bill’s minimum period blocking safeguards.
  • February: Altmire voted to gut the clean air act. HR 1 was the greatest legislative assault on environmental protection in decades. This bill thoroughly guts the Clean Air Act and all but dismantles the Environmental Protection Agency. Altmire’s vote for HR 1 blocked enforcement of vital environmental and public health laws by slashing EPA funding and through the inclusion of 19 separate policy ‘riders’ that prevent EPA from enforcing its legal obligations to protect public health from air toxics, water pollution and to carry out the laws previous Congresses have required EPA to do.

Help us spread the word and make sure Rep. Altmire hears from his constituents that he should be protecting kids, not polluters.