Talk is Cheap; Actions Speak Louder than Words, So Let’s Get Busy

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

Talk is Cheap; Actions Speak Louder than Words, So Let’s Get Busy

WASHINGTON (October 22, 2012) – Following is a statement by Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC Action Fund, after the final presidential debate tonight in Florida:

“Climate change deserved a proper airing during the debates. At the end of the day, though, actions speak louder than words. And there’s no doubt which candidate will take strong, decisive actions to combat this urgent, global problem. He already has. And that’s President Obama.”

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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

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.

 

About That Next Debate, President Obama

You can bet on this (let’s say a buck rather than ten grand): Mitt Romney is out on the campaign trail somewhere today trashing the EPA, belittling clean solar and wind energy, dumping on electric cars, and making it sound like we should ditch “apple pie” and start talking about America as being all about motherhood, baseball and coal.

As they look to recover from the disappointing first debate performance, President Obama and his advisors should recognize one central fact: Romney is not taking all of these anti-environmental stances just because his funders and Tea Party backers want him to do so. The other reason is that Romney wants to muddy up these issues precisely because he knows that they can hurt him.

That may sound a little counter intuitive, but it is how the game of politics is played. Its an old strategy – attack your opponent’s strengths to cover up your own weakness (remember how George W. Bush went after Kerry’s 3 purple hearts?) It may be “smart politics” for Romney to protect his exposed flank this way, but it would be nothing short of silly for President Obama to go along with that strategy.

As the President looks ahead to tomorrow night’s debate, here are three compelling reasons for calling Mitt Romney out on his diverse range of anti-environmental stances:

  1.  Let’s not mince words about it: Romney is flat wrong about much of what he says about clean energy and clean air. His debate performance and other recent political claims have been fact checked and debunked far and wide. For Obama, this isn’t a case of having to argue one side of an issue against another.  All that is necessary is for President Obama to point out that Romney either doesn’t understand the issues or, even worse, he gets them just fine and he’s fine with making up his own facts about them.   (Call me cynical, but my money is on the latter.)  Either way, voters are not going to be comfortable with a candidate who can be so cavalier about the truth when our clean air and clean water are at stake.  But you need to call out Romney on all of this to make the point, Mr. President.
  2. President Obama, you have compiled a strong first term record on the environment.   Embrace it.   Tout it.  Shout about it from the rooftops.   You have advanced the growth of clean wind and solar power.  Your Environmental Protection Agency has made major strides on the Clean Air Act Front while protecting American jobs.   And let’s not forget the health benefits of a vigilant EPA:  The Obama campaign web site correctly points out that your Administration “established the first national safeguards to cut down on mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants, which will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 540,000 missed work days, and 130,000 cases of asthma each year, helping to keep our children out of the hospital and in school.”  This is one of the health standards that Romney would cut down with his plan to “take a weed whacker”to the EPA.It doesn’t stop there:  You also are making possible the revival of the U.S. auto industry through increased fuel efficiency standards for autos.  These are huge accomplishments that should not be allowed to disappear under a blizzard of Romney lies.    You have a hell of a story to tell here, Mr. President.  Don’t be bullied into silence on this important topic.
  3. Voters support what you are doing; don’t let Romney sucker you into ditching what are winning issues.  Everyone knows that this election has come down to a narrow band of undecided voters in eight or so swing states.  Good news, Mr. President!  Recent Public Policy Polling survey of more than 22,000 likely voters in battleground states shows the following:   “Undecided voters in eight swing states — Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — decisively favor candidates for president and Congress who support clean air and clean energy policies over candidates who don’t, according to eight new state-specific surveys.”Romney has come out on the wrong side of the issue again and again – from opposing measures to reduce toxic mercury pollution, to rejecting standards for more efficient autos, to dismissing the need to reduce dangerous carbon pollution. Voters side with your views on these issues, but you still need to get in there and make that point, Mr. President.  And it is definitely there to be made!

This whole issue of undecided voters really is the heart of the matter when it comes to the Romney strategy of fuzzing up the environmental issues, Mr. President.  If he can get you to stay away from environmental topics in the campaign, you get fewer undecided voters in the key battleground states. In some ways, Romney is running less to persuade those voters to join him than he is to keep you, President Obama, from connecting with them. Don’t fall for it, Mr. President. Not only are you too smart to play Romney’s game, but you’ve got the winning formula in your environmental track record to “seal the deal” in the key swing states.

Tomorrow’s debate is only part of the challenge that the President faces in the coming weeks on environmental issues.   Fossil fuel giants and their allies have poured $153 million into campaign ads as of mid-September, and there will be millions more lavished on the dirty air and dirty energy agenda.    That fact just makes it even more important that the second debate is one in which President Obama takes back the environmental issues that he already owns in this campaign.

Romney Gets the Energy Facts Wrong in Wednesday’s Debate

The post-debate analysis is in full swing, and while pundits are talking about Governor Romney’s aggressive manner and President Obama’s subdued performance, the real story is how many times Romney strayed from the facts. On energy issues alone, he not only distorted the truth but he also misrepresented his own positions.

It began when Romney said he supported clean energy. This passing remark came after he spoke at length about expanding oil and gas drilling and building the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. It also came after he let us know: “I like coal.”

I am not surprised Romney paid lip service to clean energy. Nine out of 10 Americans say developing renewable energy should be a priority for the president and Congress, and that includes 85 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Independents. And two thirds of Americans want to extend tax incentives for clean energy. 

But Romney’s own positions would thwart the rapidly growing clean energy economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it creating.  He wants to kill incentives for wind power—incentives that enjoy strong bipartisan support, perhaps because more than 80 percent of installed wind power comes from Republican-majority states. And his economic plan calls for cutting clean energy investments by 90 percent, down to just $1 billion in 2014.

Romney repeatedly criticized Obama for his clean energy incentives. But once again, his facts were wildly off base. He cited the $90 billion the Obama administration invested in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency measures for homeowners, public transit, and other stimulus projects, and tried to claim that clean energy received more government help than fossil fuels.

The historic record proves otherwise. A study of by DBL Investors found that the oil and gas companies have received $446.9 billion in subsidies (1918-2009) and the nuclear industry scored $185.7 billion (1947-2009). Up until 2009, meanwhile, the renewable sector outside of biofuels had gotten only $5.9 billion.

The $90 billion the Obama administration has invested in clean energy since then has already delivered amazing returns: wind power has doubled in three years, solar power has quadrupled in four years, and more than 1 million homes have received energy-saving retrofits. More than 150,000 Americans have jobs making parts for and assembling clean cars—hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren’t even available 10 years ago. And consumers can find nearly 60 fuel-efficient models in showrooms today—up from 27 in 2009.  These cars are putting more money in Americans’ pockets and helping American automakers come back from the brink.

Romney tried to ignore this success by saying half of Obama’s clean energy investments had failed. That’s simply false. While a handful of companies granted loan guarantees have folded, hundreds of other companies are succeeding. In fact, the failure rate for clean energy loan recipients was only 1.4 percent by the end of 2011.

When all the smoke clears and the conversation shifts from style to substance, voters will realize the clear choice before them. One candidate will keep America hooked on the same fossil fuels that have been polluting our air for decades. The other has presided over the largest increase in clean energy in our nation’s history and strengthened public health and environmental protections. Those are the facts and hopefully they will garner greater attention as we head into the next debate.

 

 

Romney’s Double-Talk on Regulations

Mitt Romney’s basic strategy in the general election campaign has been clear for months – use rhetoric that appeals to the middle while embracing policies that appeal to the right.  That strategy was in full flower at tonight’s debate as Romney repeatedly used sweet-scented rhetoric to lure voters to accept poisonous policies.  Perhaps the clearest case in point was the discussion of regulation.

Romney made a well articulated case for why regulation is needed and even in business’ interest.  He appeared to be a paragon of reason – fully in line with the public’s understanding that regulation in general is necessary even though some specific regulations may be misguided.

The problem is that this is totally at odds with the specific, radical positions Romney has embraced.  On the policy front, Romney has been taking his lead from the Tea Party Republicans in the House – the ones he claims the President should have been so willing to accommodate.  Here’s the most obvious and far-reaching example when it comes to regulations:  Romney has endorsed the REINS Act, a bill designed to shut down the entire regulatory system.  In fact, he’s gone a step further:  Romney has said he’d try to implement the REINS Act by executive fiat if Congress didn’t pass it – a step that almost certainly would be unconstitutional.

What would the REINS Act do?  It would say that no major regulation could move forward unless both Houses of Congress approved it.  It literally would return the regulatory system to the 19th century — before agencies like the Food and Drug Administration had the authority and expertise to implement laws.  Could any of the rules for Wall Street that Romney suggests he supports be put into effect under such a system?  Doubtful.  Congress would remain gridlocked as ever more campaign contributions flowed in because every industry would have to turn to Congress to fight out its technical, regulatory battles. 

This is vintage Romney 2012 – talk from the center while promising to govern from the right.  The media and the public should not fall for this.  The same Romney who has no compunctions about running away from his own record as governor has no hesitation about talking around the positions he’s embracing during this very campaign.

Even sober-minded PBS spent time tonight discussing the candidates’ stances in the sense of what their body language was on stage.  At least as much attention ought to be given to their stances on the issues and how they comport with the language offered in tonight’s debate.

Voters Face Clear Choice on Energy, Climate

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


Voters Face Clear Choice on Energy, Climate
               

WASHINGTON (October 3, 2012) –  In response to tonight’s presidential debate in Denver, Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC Action Fund, made the following statement:

“The candidates laid out a clear choice. President Obama wants to invest in energy efficiency and renewable power while protecting our health. Gov. Romney would bet our future on the fossil fuels of the past. This is a choice between responsibility and recklessness, and the choice is ours to make.”

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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

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.