The Mark UP

Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: IN-09

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

Today, we examine Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, covering the southeastern and south-central portions of the state, and including Bloomington and the Indiana suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. The district is heavily rural and agricultural, birthplace of singer John Mellancamp, famous for his song “Small Town.” The district also includes larger, urban areas, with employers such as Indiana University, General Electric, Hoosier Energy and Otis Elevator. Since January 2007, the 9th Congressional District has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Baron Hill. This year, Hill is being challenged by Republican Todd Young, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Deputy Prosecutor in Orange County.                                                              

On clean energy and environmental issues, Rep. Hill has a strong record. In 2009, for instance, Hill received a solid, 86% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and a 93% rating from Environment America. Hill voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), an extraordinarily important piece of environmental legislation which the New York Times described as “the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change.” At the time of his “aye” vote, Hill stated that he was “proud of both [his] support for and work done on the [legislation].” Hill added that he worked with “other like-minded Members…to get the electricity sector 90% of their allowances for free.” Finally, Hill pointed out his efforts to ensure that “manufacturing industries will be compensated for their cost of compliance with these new standards.”

In sharp contrast, Todd Young pledges to “vote against cap and trade bills that will raise our energy bills.” Young falsely attacks Rep. Hill, claiming that Hill “wants to raise your energy bill $1,800 a year.” Young also wrongly claims that ACES would “dramatically raise the cost of electricity and gasoline for all Americans, kill jobs in Indiana and have no appreciable effect on climate change.”

In fact, as an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded in June 2009, “the net economy-wide cost of the [greenhouse gases] cap-and-trade program would be about $22 billion—or about $175 per household.” That’s just one-tenth of the cost figure Todd Young is falsely putting out there. In addition, that $175 estimate doesn’t even include “the potential benefits associated with any changes in the climate that would be avoided as a result of the legislation.” Those benefits could end up being enormous, especially given the potential impact of more severe weather on American agriculture. Finally, as a study by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California concluded, a bill with strong energy efficiency incentives would create a net of 1.9 million jobs. Those are the facts, contrary to whatever Todd Young is claiming.

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.