The Mark UP

Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: AK-Senate

This is the thirty-fifth article in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of political candidates in key races around the country.

All eyes turned to Alaska this summer when incumbent Lisa Murkowski was defeated in the Republican primary by challenger Joe Miller, an attorney and veteran endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Murkowski, who has been in the Senate since 2002 (when she was appointed by her father, then the Governor), has decided to mount a write-in campaign to retain her seat, leading to a three-way race between her, Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams, the Mayor of Sitka. 

Following the primary, some political observers tried to attribute Murkowski’s defeat to her acknowledgment that climate change is a problem.  But the facts didn’t bear this out.  For one thing, as the Action Fund has previously written, Murkowski has been far from an environmental champion in the Senate.  The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gives her an 18% career rating, and in June, she led an attempt to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific finding that global warming threatens our public health and welfare, the first step needed to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Miller, though, goes even further.  On his website, Miller writes that global warming “may not even exist.”  Tell that to the National Academy of Sciences, our foremost scientific authority, which recently concluded, “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

McAdams, on the other hand, has been mostly saying the right things about clean energy and climate issues on the campaign trail. On his website, he decries the “political grandstanding and partisan rhetoric” that has stalled progress on comprehensive energy legislation.  In an interview with Mother Jones, he said it was Murkowski’s opposition to raising the liability cap on oil spills in the wake of the Gulf disaster that inspired him to run for the Senate.  Remembering the effects of the Valdez spill on his home state and the many “who have still not been made whole,” McAdams said, “I was outraged.  To say that $75 million is enough to cover the claims, cover the cost of lives that cannot be valued or monetized is outrageous.” And in a DailyKos post McAdams writes:

“I would not support Congress acting to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its greenhouse gas emission authority. Alaska is on the front lines of climate change from warming permafrost, receding glaciers and communities literally falling into the ocean. Also, the same pollutants causing climate change are causing our oceans to become more acidic, threatening our fisheries. I am the only candidate in the Alaska’s U.S. Senate race putting new ideas on the table to increase our nation’s energy security through increased use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, while responsibly developing our domestic oil and gas resources. I see Alaska as key to a renewable future for America: we have vast untapped renewable resources like tidal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind. We have massive reserves of traditional sources of energy, like oil and natural gas, which must be brought to market while we transition to a more sustainable future.”

The Alaskan race offers voters clear choices on the environmental stands of the candidates. 

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.