Monday, July 07, 2014

How Much Of A Role Will Climate Change Play In The Congressional Elections This Year?


Yesterday, Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies released a report and survey, The Politics of Global Warming, that should send shivers down the spines of Climate Change deniers in Congress. "We find," they reported, "that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Further, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming."
The study also finds that while Democrats are more convinced that human-caused global warming is happening and more supportive of climate and energy policies than Republicans, there are deep divisions within the Republican Party. In many respects, liberal/moderate Republicans-- about a third of the Republican party-- are relatively similar to moderate/conservative Democrats, while conservative Republicans often express views about global warming that are distinctly different than the rest of the American public.

  For example, among registered voters:
88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans;
81% of Democrats and 51% of liberal/moderate Republicans are worried about global warming, compared to only 19% of conservative Republicans:;
82% of Democrats and 65% of liberal/moderate Republicans support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, compared to only 31% of conservative Republicans.

I'm not clear what exactly a "liberal/moderate Republican" is any longer-- say post-Jacob Javits-- but I do know it doesn't apply to any Republican elected officials, at least not on a Federal level. ProgressivePunch tracked 331 votes in the House and Senate since 2002 and there are no Republicans with good scores. Only two Republican Members of the House-- Chris Gibson (NY) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ), both from blue districts with D+1 PVIs-- have lifetime crucial vote scores that could be termed "not a lethal and determined enemy of the planet." Every other Republican in the House would fall into that category. So would 9 Democrats:
Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)
Gene Green (TX)
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)
Steven Horsford (NV)
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
At a time when there are already more U.S. jobs in solar industry than coal mining, that list is just the worst of the Democrats, but not all the really bad Democrats. In fact, four more have worse Global Warming voting records than Gibson-- Ruben Hinojosa (TX), Sanford Bishop (GA), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ) and Mike McIntyre (NC)-- and another 10 get failing scores (less than 50%).

Almost every Democrat who is a consistent opponent of protecting the country from the impact of Climate Change is on the DCCC incumbent protection priority list. With just a few exceptions, virtually all DCCC funds and resources going towards reelecting incumbents will be spent on Democrats who vote with the Republicans against Climate Change measures.

Now, as for "liberal/moderate Republicans," even if you want to include Gibson and LoBiondo-- which is patently absurd-- there are 132 Republicans who boast a score less than 2.0… and 102 with flat out ZERO! And those flat out zero-voters include all the GOP Caucus leaders, Speaker John Boehner (OH), outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA), incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Whip Steve Scalise (LA), and Policy Chair James Lankford (OK).

The purest and clearest Climate Change contest of the cycle is in southwest Michigan's 6th district, where House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton-- who has an abysmal lifetime Global Warming crucial vote score of 1.39 and who was dubbed the #1 biggest threat to planet Earth on planet Earth by the L.A. Times-- is fighting off a challenge by environmental activist Paul Clements. (Needless to say, Steve Israel and his odious DCCC is on Upton's side.) Here's how the Sierra Club, the country's largest grassroots conservation organization, framed the battle:

“The Sierra Club supports Paul Clements because he is a climate champion, and that’s the kind of leader we need representing Michigan’s 6th District,” said Mike Berkowitz, Political and Legislative Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “From extreme flooding to extreme droughts, dealing with the effects of climate disruption costs our nation billions of dollars every year. Paul Clements is ready to take climate action now, while Fred Uptons sits on his hands, gives big breaks to polluters and takes big campaign handouts from oil and gas companies.”

Southwest Michigan has benefitted from clean energy growth and expansion in the state. But the southwest corridor of the state has also endured one of the worst and most costly oil spills in U.S. history at the hands of Enbridge Energy, which gushed more than one million gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, putting local drinking water at risk. Federal and state agencies are still cleaning up the Kalamazoo River from the Enbridge spill four years later.

“Paul Clements understands that clean water and clean air are great resources that shouldn’t be sacrificed for polluter profits,” said Richard Barron, Political Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “We are still cleaning up from Enbridge’s crude oil spill but meanwhile in DC, Fred Upton has been fast tracking legislation to approve the dangerous Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, putting even more people at risk of water contamination from catastrophes.”

Paul Clements has been an outspoken activist on the need to mitigate climate disruption, chairing Western Michigan University’s faculty workgroup on Climate Change and authoring a chapter on “The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change” in his book Rawlsian Political Analysis: Rethinking the Microfoundations of Social Science.

“Climate disruption will affect every aspect of our economy and our lives,” said Charlie Stefanac, a Sierra Club activist from Kalamazoo in the 6th Congressional District. “Paul Clements understands the importance and urgency of taking climate action now by supporting vital carbon standards on coal-burning power plants and expanding clean energy in Michigan and across the United States.”
OK, the Yale study makes the point that "Americans are three times more likely to vote against a political candidate who strongly opposes action to reduce global warming [and] two in three Americans (66%) support the Congress and president passing laws to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as a way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Most likely to voice support are Democrats (81%), including 89% of liberal Democrats. Majorities of liberal and moderate Republicans (63%) and Independents (59%) do as well." Look at the chart below. Perhaps if Steve Israel wasn't so dead-set on protecting Fred Upton from defeat, he might be willing to test the assertions and help elect progressive Democrat Paul Clements. (You can help Blue America do that here.)

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At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve Israel - Grrr...

For your amusement here's two emails I sent in response to fundraisers a week or so ago...

1) From Debbie Wasserman Shultz:

Subject: Tom, you're our last hope

...Everything that we’ve worked for, everything thing that we’ve accomplished could be destroyed by this latest onslaught -- we have no choice but to fight back. As of 1pm, we still need 37,667 donations to fight this onslaught of Republican attacks. Tom, the deadline is in less than 48 hours. You’re our last hope...

Thanks for fighting with me - Debbie

My response:

Ms. Wasserman Shultz - if I’m your last hope, give up now. I will no longer support the DCCC (or the DSCC) until you and Mr. Israel stop giving Republican leadership a pass by not investing in real challengers (or in many cases any challenger at all) in their districts, and start supporting real progressives rather than DINOs. Some of the clowns you champion are barely better than their Republican opponents.

Gone are the days when I would hold my nose and vote for your candidate – now it’s either clearly better, or no vote at all.

Please remove me from all DCCC and related mailing lists and call lists – save the time and money. Not only will I not contribute another dime until you start taking the House in a progressive direction, but wish I could get a refund on everything I’ve contributed in the past.

2) From Steve Israel:

Subject: some GOOD news

...Tom, it’s getting down to crunch time. Your donations are already at work helping Democratic candidates and fighting Republican attacks. We’re not done asking for your help. There are more critical deadlines before the election and Republicans are going to pull more stupid stunts...

Onward to November! Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

My response:

Mr. Israel – the only good news I can imagine coming from you is that you stepped down from the D triple C and made the job available for someone who was actually going to fight the Republican leadership on their home turf, as well as support real progressive democrats instead of other DINOs like yourself. You, sir, if not a hack and a sellout, are sure doing a good impression of one.


At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The role of climate change in the upcoming elections? The radical reich will attack "climate change" as their favorite whipping post in their general anti-rationality campaign. (Which seems to have shifted into high gear with the WahHobby Lobby ruling.)

The Dems will not deal with it directly because the last time a Dem, Carter, asked Americans to exhibit their intelligence, courage and true "family values"*** we got the pin head Reagan.

***securing the possibility of a future for the human race.

John Puma


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