It’s a Fact.

I just finished watching State of the Union.  President Obama gave his laundry list to Congress and then reminded lawmakers that if they can’t get their act together, he will move forward without them to make progress.

If you are an environmentalist who watched the speech, you undoubtedly found things you liked and disliked, but we can all embrace the President’s direct aim at climate deniers.

Check out his language from the 2010 State of the Union:

“I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.”

Tonight’s statement was much more direct:

“Climate change is a fact.”

We couldn’t agree more. Now is the time for candidates to follow President Obama’s lead by being direct in our need to address climate change.

Extensive polling shows voters all across America are ready to act on climate by reducing carbon pollution. And candidates who chose to “run clean” in 2012 not only won, but laid out a roadmap for why it’s not just good policy, but good politics.

We have a moral obligation to act so we can leave the world a better place for our children and our children’s children.

The debate is over.

“And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

President Obama, 2014 State of the Union Address


Is LePage Ready to Run Clean?

Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to climate change. Despite Maine voters’ clear support for reducing carbon pollution and acting to address climate change, LePage reliably blocks action and denies the gravity of the climate challenge.

LePage’s latest dumbfounding bit of denial was to focus on what he believes is the positive side of climate change. Speaking at a conference, he said,

“Everybody looks at the negative effects of global warming, but with the ice melting, the Northern Passage has opened up. So maybe, instead of being at the end of the pipeline, we’re now at the beginning of a new pipeline.”

While I am certainly a glass-half-full person, climate change is hardly an appropriate place for a nonchalant focus on one person’s perception of a silver lining. In Maine, warmer waters, ocean acidification and extreme weather are threatening clam populations and sea birds. Sea level rise and extreme weather events threaten the state’s coastline. LePage’s certainty on the upside of global warming is also interesting considering his previous comments that climate change is a “hoax” and a “scam” with the science unsettled. If the impacts of a warming world are so apparent in one instance, why not in the others?

I can only hope that LePage’s clumsy climate comments are a sign that he is joining the vast majority of Americans in accepting the truth of climate change science. Certainly many in his own political party, including 61% of non-Tea Party Republicans, accept the science. Perhaps LePage’s shift from denier to opportunist is a sign that he’s understanding his constituents’ views better. After all, polling conducted for the NRDC Action Fund found that 83% of Mainers wanted a reduction in industrial carbon pollution.

We will soon have a chance to see what Mainers think of LePage’s views (and actions) when it comes to addressing climate change and promoting (or obstructing) clean energy. LePage is up for reelection in November 2014 and will face off against Rep. Mike Michaud, a strong supporter of clean energy and climate action. In contrast to his opponent, Michaud says “Any potential benefit of allowing climate change to continue unaddressed is far outweighed by the danger of our failure to act.”

Michaud’s gotten the message that running clean works. Will LePage?


“Braley Works for Iowa” on Clean Energy

“Braley works for Iowa” is the tagline on the campaign website of Senate candidate and Rep. Bruce Braley. When it comes to clean energy and climate change, Braley’s tagline rings especially true. The congressman has a history of working hard to bring attention and solutions to the energy and climate challenges that affect his heartland district.


High stakes

The Senate race in Iowa will be one of the most important races to win in 2014 and our opponents are already on the attack, buying up the radio waves to mislead the public about climate change and Braley’s record.  It’s a high stakes race for a state that will be profoundly affected by unchecked climate change and that has tremendous clean energy potential. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa currently ranks third for installed wind energy capacity and ranks seventh for potential wind energy production. Iowa wind power is capable of meeting 44 times the state’s current electricity needs, according to AWEA. That’s a good weapon for a state that could be seriously damaged by a changing climate. According to the state’s leading climate scientists, Iowa’s agricultural industry’s ability to “feed the world” is threatened by extreme weather, droughts and intense rain storms caused by a warming world.

Braley’s record

Faced with the energy and climate challenges and opportunities in the Hawkeye State, Braley is the right candidate to continue pursuing sensible solutions to move his state forward. In the House, Braley has a history of working constructively as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to promote progress on these issues. Braley has been especially focused on Iowa’s strong wind energy and biofuel industries. He has sponsored legislation to improve worker training in clean energy jobs, to extend wind energy tax credits and to end Big Oil tax breaks in favor of clean energy investment.

Running clean works in Iowa

Iowans want clean energy and they want action on climate change. Recent polling in the state has found that 80% of Iowans believe global warming is happening and that 73% support government action to reduce greenhouse gases from U.S. businesses.

global warming in iowa 

Running on these popular issues has a history of success. During the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama successfully used clean energy as a winning wedge issue in the state. As discussed in our Running Clean report, Obama regularly discussed wind energy at rallies, in advertising and on his Iowa-specific campaign website. Obama’s campaign manager credited the wind energy message as part of a factor in winning the state.

With his strong record on clean energy and climate change, it is clear that Bruce Braley is the best candidate Iowans can elect to represent them in the Senate in 2014. We’re looking forward to watching Braley show his colleagues how to “run clean” – and win – in the America’s heartland.




Running Clean or Running Scared?

When you think of the type of leader you want to represent you in government, what do you wish for? I’m guessing you’d prefer to have someone who is both courageous and principled, rather than someone too scared to stand up for something, right?

I ask because this week  House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) released a draft bill to be introduced in both bodies of Congress that would repeal EPA’s recently proposed rules to reduce the dangerous carbon pollution at new power plants and hamstring expected rules limiting carbon pollution from existing plants. These plants are responsible for 40 percent of our country’s total carbon pollution, and are major driver of changes we’re already seeing, and paying for, in our climate. Despite that reality, members of the House and Senate will be under intense pressure from the fossil fuel industry (to the tune of $139 million in lobbying so far this year*) to sign on to these misguided bills. We expect the industry to put especially heavy pressure on Senators facing competitive elections next year. Those senators have a choice: run clean or run scared.

While no single issue can guarantee victory, our in-depth research shows that running clean is both smart policy and smart politics. Running clean can be part of a winning campaign even in red states with strong fossil fuel industries. As I wrote earlier this month, that’s true in large part because Americans of all political stripes support action on climate change. Members of Congress have a moral obligation to support policies that protect the health and well-being of their constituents. Choosing to run clean can be an important component of a smart campaign narrative that emphasizes local issues and communicates a candidate’s values. These reasons represent the “smart politics” side of the equation.

But just in case anyone has forgotten the “smart policy” side of the coin, here are a few reasons why acting on climate change — not cowering in fear of the fossil fuel industry — makes sense in a few key states.

tomcottonMy Approved Portraits Arkansas:
Incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and his  challenger in the 2014 election, Rep. Tom Cotton,  would be wise to focus on the impact of climate  change on agriculture (the largest industry in  Arkansas). The entire state was already declared a  natural disaster area last year due to drought, which  is exacerbated by climate change. An increase in  extreme heat days is expected to lead to reduced  agricultural production. In Arkansas, farmers agree  that “weather patterns that seem more extreme”   are occurring, even though some are skeptical of a “climate change” message. With the potential  for 5.7 million GWh of renewable energy, the state is ready to be an engine of a clean energy  economy.


My Approved Portraits

Indiana: Agriculture represented more than $8 billion in value for Hoosiers in the most recently available census. Recently elected Sen. Joe Donnelly must remember that climate change threatens this economic engine. After the 2012 summer drought, corn, and alfalfa hay production fell by about 30% each compared to the previous year. Likewise, natural disasters can cause hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses. With wind, solar and biomass energy and clean vehicles manufacturing already creating jobs and the potential for 5.8 million GWh of renewable energy, the state is ready to be an engine of a clean energy economy.


Landrieu, Mary-040309-18442- 0003 

Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy were doubtless  profoundly affected by the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which  cost their home state $250 billion. Climate changecassidy makes severe storms  more likely. In addition, severe storms accelerate the loss of coastal  wetlands. With wind energy and clean vehicles manufacturing already creating jobs and thepotential for  5.9 million GWh of renewable energy, the state is ready to be an engine of a clean energy economy.




My Approved Portraits 

North Dakota: Recently elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp knows that agriculture is worth $6 billion in her state.  The industry is threatened by extreme weather events and other climate change impacts. For example, in  January of this year, USDA declared 16 counties to be primary natural disaster areas due to various weather-  related causes. With North Dakota’s potential to generate more than 13 million GWh of renewable energy, the  state is ready to create clean energy jobs.



We all know what is coming: a barrage of dirty energy spending that makes false claims about the cost of reducing carbon pollution (including the serious health implications) and ignores the high costs of inaction on climate change. As legislators consider whether to sign on to anti-climate bills, they’ll have to decide whether they’ll be ready to run clean or if they’ll just be running scared. They should choose to run clean. That’s where the smart money is.


*Combined oil and gas and electric industry spending.

Running Clean on EPA Carbon Rules

At this moment, Senators and members of Congress are embroiled in the politics of the government shutdown and how it might affect their reelection next year. However, just two weeks ago, EPA unveiled new rules to reduce carbon pollution at power plants and pundits were speculating about how these regulations might shape the 2014 elections.

Those with the strongest ties to the fossil fuel industry would have you believe that addressing global warming is unpopular and that voters prefer politicians who support the dirty energy status quo. However, clean energy candidates can rest easy knowing that support for clean energy and action on climate change are popular and can be an essential part of the recipe for success – even in “red” states.

In Running Clean, our wrap up of the 2012 election, we found that candidates who ran on their positive clean energy records were able to win in competitive elections, even in red states and states with strong fossil fuel industries. Montana, Virginia and New Mexico are home to oil, gas and coal resources yet clean energy champions won hard-fought Senate races in each of these states.

There are two big reasons these clean candidates were successful in tough races.

1. Americans of all political stripes support action on climate change.

The most recent polling finds that 87 percent of Americans support some EPA action on climate change, including 78 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats. That same poll found that about 75 percent of Americans now say that there is solid evidence that the average temperature has been getting warmer in recent decades, including 61 percent of Republicans.

2. Running clean is part of larger, smarter campaign narrative.

Our research found that successful clean candidates talked about local impacts of climate change and local opportunities from investments in clean energy. They made “clean” part of the values they communicated about siding with families and the future rather than the dirty fuels of the past. And they used clean energy as a way to build coalitions with other local groups. Each of these tactics made clean energy part of building an electoral majority.

Clean energy supporters facing tough match ups should take these facts to heart. Clean energy foes are running $750,000 in ads opposing a carbon tax and the NRSC may be telling folks like Kay Hagan and Mark Begich that they “will be held accountable for supporting a liberal administration that has declared a radical war on coal and American energy development,” but they shouldn’t believe it. It’s true, they’ll be held accountable — but they’ll be held accountable by an American public that believes climate change is a serious threat and that we must take action now. Running clean isn’t just good policy — it’s good politics too.