The Mark UP

Who’s Cleaner in the Massachusetts Senate Race?

If you are feeling overwhelmed by constant coverage of the Presidential race and the back and forth between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, this is the post for you. In what we hope will be the first in a series, we are highlighting one of the downballot races that will matter when it comes to clean energy and the health of our families. First up is the Massachusetts Senate race where incumbent Senator Scott Brown is being challenged by Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. When it comes to public health, climate change and clean energy, there’s some distance between the two.

While Brown is running as a moderate Republican, he chose to side with polluters in voting for an extreme proposal that would have prevented EPA from reducing carbon pollution (thankfully, it failed). He shouldn’t have been shocked when concerned families spoke out against his pro-polluter policies. The League of Women Voters ran an ad in his home state taking him to task for the vote, and linking climate change with increased asthma in vulnerable kids.


How did Brown react to getting called out? He claimed that his vote had nothing to do with children or health despite plenty of science to the contrary.

Another of Brown’s environmental offenses? He supported H.R. 1, the Senate budget bill, which was called “the worst anti-environmental bill EVER” for its crippling cuts to DOE’s clean energy programs and the EPA along with dozens of harmful environmental riders (again, thankfully, it failed).

Now, to be fair, Brown’s not the worst of our 100 Senators when it comes to clean air and clean energy. He didn’t make our list of Dirty Air Villains over at In fact, he only voted for one of the four dirty air votes we examined there. He deserves credit for voting against the radicals in his party and against polluters in opposing efforts to weaken clean air standards for boilers, and to weaken rules to cut soot and mercury pollution from power plants.

As someone who has never held elective office, we can’t compare Warren’s record with Brown’s. However, we can look to her campaign platform and detect a strong commitment to public health and environmental protection. Warren has promised to end subsidies for Big Oil and to invest in clean energy. She isn’t afraid to talk about the promise of green jobs or the threat of climate change.

Given Brown’s mixed record, the Massachusetts Senate race may not offer the starkest contrast in this election. However, it is still regarded as one of the most important contests in the country. The question of whether the Senate will be led by a Dirty Air villain like Mitch McConnell or a Clean Air hero like Harry Reid hangs in the balance.

Stay tuned to hear more about other important races.