Note to Coal Friendly Democrats: Opposing Carbon Limits Won’t Win You Any Friends

If you only read the newspaper headlines the last two days, you would think the sky is falling because a few Democrats in coal states said they opposed carbon pollution standards.

But like Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Leaders from across the nation have heralded the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Lawmakers, business executives, doctors, Latino organizations, and environmental groups welcome this breakthrough in the effort to protect public health and fight climate change.

More typical responses included Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) who said he supports the EPA’s carbon limits because “climate change is threatening Colorado’s special way of life.” And previously Representative Gary Peters (D-MI), challenged his opponent Terri Lynn Land for failing to recognize how climate change is threatening the Great Lakes.

It was only a small group of Democratic candidates for Congress who didn’t get the memo. Sadly, those few outweighed the many in the news coverage.

For example, Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) called the safeguards “disastrous.” And Alison Lundergan Grimes, running for Senate against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “When I am in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the President’s attack on Kentucky’s coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my number one priority.”

But this midterm election was never about West Virginia and Kentucky. These Democrats were never on the side of President Obama’s climate action plan. And these states will not make or break the ultimate control of the Senate next year. The swing states where control will be decided, like New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa and Colorado, have Democratic candidates who support reducing carbon pollution.

Ultimately candidates who run away from public health and climate protections will find themselves isolated from their own voters. And it will make the Senate more vulnerable to Republican takeover.

Clean air and climate champions have the advantage now.

More than two-thirds of voters in 11 battleground states say the EPA should limit carbon pollution from power plants, according to a March poll done by Harstad Strategic Research for the NRDC Action Fund.

This week yet another poll confirmed the depth of support. A Washington Post-ABC News survey found that 70 percent of Americans want the federal government to limit climate change pollution from power plants, including 57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats. The poll asked voters if they would support carbon limits even if electricity costs rise—NRDC analysis shows people’s monthly bills will likely go down—and 51 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Independents, and 71 percent of Democrats said yes.

This majority support held firm even in coal-heavy states, and yet some Democrats running in these places are still trying to distance themselves from carbon limits. Perhaps they think the coal industry will miraculously embrace them. Or at least stop spending millions of dollars to attack them. But the truth is: the coal industry will never anoint them. The industry has long-since picked its pet candidates, and it won’t switch affections just because someone says a few coal-friendly comments on carbon limits.

Some candidates have noticed the ground shifted in the past few years. Opponents will continue to make the claim that climate action spells trouble at the ballot box. But as extreme weather began destroying people’s homes and livelihoods, voters started to care about climate change.

In 2008, young voters people helped carry President Obama to victory, in part because of his commitment to tackling the climate crisis. In 2012, the Koch brothers and their allies spent more than $270 million in TV ads in the last two months of the campaign alone, yet clean energy and climate candidates won up and down the ticket. The Koch brothers had a 5 percent win rate last cycle, while the environmental community had an almost 100 percent win rate. For an industry highly focused on its return on investment, they don’t have much to show their investors when it comes to the electoral politics of climate change. The big money is not always the smarter money.

This kind of support for climate action can help Democrats carve a path to victory and a Senate majority. But candidates who speak for the coal industry may find themselves on a lonely road.

 

 

Let the Light Shine In

When it comes to the potential of solar energy, the Obama administration continues to see the light and follow it with conviction. This stands in stark contrast to the Koch brothers’ use of the American Legislative Exchange Council as a front to push for removal of critical renewable energy standards on the state level, despite the enormous public popularity of and business support for renewable energy.

This month, the White House hosted a Solar Summit—a special event focused on highlighting the continued development of solar energy in the U.S. Along with honoring individuals across the country who are helping to drive domestic solar deployment, The Obama administration took the event as an opportunity to announce new steps to expand the use of solar energy in American homes, businesses, and schools, and to call for new commitments from the private sector and non-profit organizations to support solar deployment and jobs.

Since President Obama took office in 2008, unprecedented investments in research, development, and deployment of solar technologies have seen solar prices markedly decrease and the solar market rapidly grow. These developments have driven enormous growth in the solar industry, with more than 140,000 American jobs up and down the solar supply chain, 50,000 of which have come into existence since 2010. This Solar Summit and the announcements made in connection with it demonstrate the continuation of this Administration’s historic commitment to developing clean sources of energy.

While the summit was valuable in promoting recent successes, the announcements made surrounding the event are particularly exciting because they promise continued growth of domestic solar power. Our country has no doubt made great strides in expanding our investment in and use of solar energy under the Obama administration thus far, but there still remains plenty of room for an increased commitment by Congress to renewable energy development through the extension of the Production Tax Credit for example.

Skeptics argue that solar energy still amounts to a relatively minor portion of our national energy needs. However, such a picture is misleading, as it does not reflect the present popularity and enormous future potential of renewable energy. Keep in mind that renewable energy sources accounted for over 50 percent of new domestic electricity generation capacity in 2012 and over 40 percent of the same in 2013, with solar power leading the way for renewable sources that year. Although the rate of adoption of renewable energy is restricted by the lingering of fossil fuel-fired power plants—with their permits stretching decades—far past their heyday, the future is now for renewable energy and energy efficiency when policy makers decide what energy resources they should invest in next.

But not only are the climatic and economic reasons for increased investment in domestic solar energy persuasive—it is by all accounts a shrewd political move as well. Poll after poll demonstrates that Americans of all political stripes and all ages support greater emphasis on producing domestic solar power. With that in mind, it’s quite clear that policymakers across the political spectrum and at all levels of government—from local to federal—would  do well to join the President in his support of solar power.

NRDC Action Fund Launches Campaign Warning Congressional Climate Deniers: Don’t Poison our Children’s Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Harrison, NRDC Action Fund, 202-513-6278/614-203-2616, mharrison@nrdc.org

Online Ad Campaign Supports President Obama’s Climate & Clean Air Plan

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2013) The NRDC Action Fund is launching an online advertising campaign today to galvanize opposition to any efforts to derail President Obama’s climate and clean air plan.

The digital campaign will include a 30-second ad, which can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/17NwAI0  and reads, “If every Senator threatening to vote against the President’s clean air and climate plan knew what it was like to be a child suffering a severe asthma attack, maybe they’d think twice.  After all, it’s kind of hard to do anything with a nebulizer wrapped around your face.  When we protect the air from carbon pollution, we protect children’s lives.”

The campaign also includes banner ads on websites including the WashingtonPost.com and Politico.com that will run from July 30 through August 2. The banner ads portray children wearing breathing respirators with the text, “The Cost of Climate Change…Tell the U.S. Senate: Don’t Poison Our Children’s Future.”

“Despite the scientific facts, the impacts on children and families across America, and the growing support for taking action to address climate change, the denier extremists are in full swing as they head back to their districts for the August recess,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, NRDC Action Fund Director. “Unfortunately, these deniers remain out of step with their constituents, and particularly young people from both major parties, who believe we have an obligation to protect future generations from climate change. Our online campaign is designed to put Congress on notice that their constituents are watching. We will hold them accountable if they try to block the president’s plan– a common-sense, practical proposal that has the public’s support.”

Many in the U.S. Senate have been positioning proposals and amendments to stop EPA from taking action to reduce carbon pollution. Behind-the-scenes maneuvers reached a peak this week in the course of negotiations over the bipartisan energy efficiency bill introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), which many now expect to see final votes on in September. Their bill attracted climate change deniers who are seeking to hijack a widely supported bill to push their political agenda.

Recent public opinion research by Democratic and Republican aligned firms has shown strong support for cutting the carbon pollution from power plants that fuels climate change and extreme weather, diminishes air quality and threatens health.  Sixty-five percent of Americans support setting limits on the dangerous carbon pollution from power plants, including 49% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats and 56% of independents, according to a July 2013 national survey conducted by Hart Research and Chesapeake Beach Consulting for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A separate poll by Benenson Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group found that “young voters of both parties want to see action on climate change and want leaders willing to take steps to address that threat… widespread and intense support translates into a willingness to punish legislators who stand in the way of the President’s plan… and to support those who back it.”

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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.

 

 

Mother’s Day

As I looked at the computer screen which displayed the faces of my mother and grandmother, I wished them both a Happy Mother’s Day. As we talked I thought of all the sacrifices they had made to ensure I was raised in an environment that fostered my growth and success. What some deem, another Hallmark Holiday, I love Mother’s Day because it’s one more opportunity for me to say thank you to them for all they have done to make my world a better place.

It’s hard to believe that juxtaposed to this Mother’s Day was another new date which will go down in the history books. Just preceding our mom’s special day, the planet went over 400ppm concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to the New York Times:

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.”

So, as mothers all over the world were celebrating, the planet was surpassing another climate change milestone, which is ultimately making the environment less safe for moms and their children everywhere.

Yet, after a weekend of articles on what is yet to come due to this new level, some still don’t understand the sense of urgency many of us feel. Ultimately, polls show that more and more Americans believe climate change is real and that we should do something to combat it, however they don’t want government to foot the bill. And when I bring it up among my friends, (what I like to call my personal focus groups) climate change still pales in comparison to their concerns about the economy, job creation and debt reduction.

Wrong Frame?

Recently, I attended a presentation by Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Following her foreign and domestic policy laden speech, she opened up for questions from the audience. As I stood to ask her thoughts on climate change, the President’s second term and the role current Secretary of State John Kerry should play in these discussions, I wondered what her response would entail.

Albright photo 2013

 Click Picture to View Full Response

“I think that all one has to do is look at various things and extremes going on. I think there is positive proof that there is something going on. The other, I think is the affect that climate change has on a number of aspects that have to do with stability. I have just been involved in many discussions now about problems to do with water. If people think we have been arguing over fossil fuels, wait until we really start arguing over water. About food security and problems there. A lot of it has to do with climate change. If people only think it’s about polar bears or something, that’s not what it’s about. What it is about is human security in all its various aspects.” -Madeleine Albright, May 3, 2013

“Human security.” While some still debate whether we should refer to this issue as global warming or climate change, former Secretary Albright skipped right to the heart of the matter. This is a human security issue and we should begin acting like it is.

We need to start asking the tough questions about what we can do as individuals, while demanding our elected officials take a stand and lead. It has been 89 days since President Obama said we’d “respond to the threat of climate change” during his State of the Union address. We’ve heard the talk, now it’s time to walk the walk. If you agree, send President Obama an email and tell him you are ready to hear his plan.

Like our mothers, who strive to protect us, now is the time for us to find ways to protect them and our other mom, Mother Earth.

Climate Change is Not a Joke

“And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future.”

-President Barack Obama on September 6, 2012

Last week, President Obama made crystal clear his commitment to combat climate change when he characterized rising temperatures as “as a threat to our children’s future” during his speech accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

President Obama takes climate change seriously, while Mitt Romney makes jokes: http://youtu.be/JR2GmJPl6K8.

Obama moved forward with clean car standards that will cut carbon pollution by in half by 2025 and save consumers like you and me at least $2,000-3000 at the pump over the life of our car.

Romney promised to repeal those standards.

Under Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency moved forward with setting landmark carbon limits for power plants, so that for the first time ever builders of new power plants can’t dump unlimited amounts of carbon into our air.

Romney would let polluters dump many millions of tons of carbon pollution into the air for free, by reversing these new standards and stopping the EPA from setting any limits at all.

In fact Romney recently said he agrees that we are helping to warm the planet, but that he doesn’t think he should do anything about it.

Obama gets it. And we think he gets it in part because Americans, many of you among them, sent over three million comments in support of the steps he’s taken to reduce air pollution,. That record-setting public support for climate action has clearly gotten through, thanks to your help.

So help us make this November’s choice clear…Share this video with friends, family and community to let them know that we’re fighting for our future, and for our children’s future.

President Obama wants to make our air safer to breath, hold polluters accountable and make them pay for their waste just as the rest of us do.  President Obama wants to unleash clean energy innovation, restore our natural resources, build American prosperity, and confront climate change.  He is getting my vote and I hope yours too.