Kelly’s Heroes: Can GOP Escape the Climate Denial Ghetto?

November 4, 2015

GOP candidates, and advocates, who are uncomfortable in the anti-science ghetto, have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

D. R. Tucker in Washington Monthly:

Usually, one has a better chance of being struck by lighting than hearing a Senate Republican praise one of President Obama’s policy initiatives. That’s why Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s (R-NH) recent thumbs-up to Obama’s Clean Power Plan to combat carbon pollution sent a few shockwaves through the Beltway:

New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte is at odds with GOP leadership and the vast majority of her Republican colleagues over climate-change policy heading into the 2016 elections.

Ayotte, who is girding for a difficult reelection fight, on Sunday became the first GOP senator to support President Obama’s sweeping regulation that mandates carbon-emissions cuts from the nation’s power plants.

Her announcement arrives as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Republicans are ramping up their legislative and messaging battle against the EPA rules, which seek to cut nationwide pollution from power plants by 32 percent, relative to 2005 levels, by 2030.

One reason for Ayotte’s position: beer brewing. Ayotte cited the support of New Hampshire businesses for the plan, including Smuttynose Brewing Company, but also the apparel company Timberland, and Worthen Industries, which supplies adhesives and coatings to a various industries.

“It’s so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future. After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean-energy solutions that will protect our environment,” she said.

Of course, Ayotte isn’t the only Republican facing long re-election odds who recognizes that parroting Sen. James Inhofe on climate is a doomed strategy. In an unusually strong (by Republican standards) Miami Herald op-ed, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) declared that caring for our common home is a moral principle that should transcend partisanship:

Now more than ever, it is crucial that we acknowledge the reality that is the Earth’s changing climate. Without question, this is one of the major challenges of our time and directly threatens the communities of South Florida. If left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely affect not only our families and neighbors, but the entire country.

To view climate change through partisan lenses only detracts from efforts to discover practical solutions. This debate should not devolve into a petty competition between Republicans and Democrats.

Instead, it should consist of a constructive dialogue focusing on the implementation of policies that encourage the growth and development of clean alternative energy sources that will complement traditional ones.

Rising sea levels and the erosion of our coastal communities have made it abundantly clear that South Florida is at the frontline of climate change. Florida’s obvious vulnerability to these effects should be enough to spur interest in the numerous benefits offered by increased investment in clean energy.

Unfortunately, Curbelo never acknowledges that it was the morally depraved fossil-fuel industry that made climate change a partisan issue by hiring right-wing lackeys to demonize Al Gore and others who called for action on carbon pollution in the late-1980s and early-1990s as job-killing Commies. However, let’s not lose sight of the larger picture. While red-state ideologues like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) continue their assaulton climate science, Republicans in less wingnutty parts of the country are finally beginning to understand that if they align themselves with deniers, they could be denied a chance to be re-elected. In other words, the climate hawks are winning, slowly but surely.

In my home state of Michigan, the reliably right wing Detroit News gave prominent space on its editorial page to an attack on the state’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, who is among those who have sued the Obama Administration over the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to clean up fossil fuel generation.  Schuette is at odds, notably, with Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, who seems to be trying to find a way out of the conservative, science denial sandbox.

Lisa Wozniak, League of Conservation Voters, in the Detroit News:

Attorney General Bill Schuette joined a lawsuit last week to block the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants in Michigan — his latest disappointing move to challenge common-sense protections for our land, air and water.

While business leaders, nurses and doctors, faith leaders of all denominations and Gov. Rick Snyder want to see Michigan comply with the Clean Power Plan (CPP), Schuette is stepping in to try and stop it. The CPP will limit pollution that contributes to soaring asthma rates in children, mercury levels in fish and climate change. Schuette’s attempt to block the CPP directly conflicts with his charge as our state’s lead attorney to protect the health and safety of Michigan families.

Schuette suggests that the Clean Power Plan is unachievable. The truth is, due to our 2008 clean energy legislation, Michigan is already halfway toward meeting the CPP goal of reducing carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. Since 2008, we have created tens of thousands of jobs for Michiganders in the clean energy sector. We have begun our transition from outdated, expensive coal power to more clean energy. And, we have charted a course of powering our state in ways that reduce pollution of our air and water. If we can do that in seven years, imagine the progress we can make over the course of the next 15 years.

According to research by Public Policy Polling, 68 percent of Michigan voters, spanning party lines, support the Clean Power Plan. Given that the CPP allows each state to write a plan that meets unique needs and circumstances, Michigan has the opportunity to ensure continued investment in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy, rein in high electricity costs, create jobs and — in the process — protect our Great Lakes and our families from pollution.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, the group responsible for the Ad above, has this graph on its home page.

climatepollHuffington Post:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) got a boost in the last election from a little-known nonprofit called Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions. The group calls itself conservative, but its support for greater federal funding of alternative energy drew the attention of Tennessee tea party groups, who decried what they saw as its liberal agenda.

Tea party activists were further agitated by the scant information available about Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions. It pushed for increased public and private investment in alternative energy. It ran an issue ad praising Alexander’s “bold” energy plan in 2013. But whose money was funding that message?

gopenergyclicktoIf the tea party groups had known the full story, they might have gone ballistic.

A Huffington Post examination of tax records, accessed on, found that in its first year of operations, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions was funded with $1 million in seed money from two nonprofits often linked to liberal causes. From June 2012 through June 2013, the group received $500,000 each from the Advocacy Fund and the Trust for Energy Innovation.

The Advocacy Fund, formerly the Tides Advocacy Fund, is a key backer of liberal nonprofits across the country, distributing $11.8 million in grants in 2013. It currently funds groups engaged in promoting immigration reform, increasing worker protections, reforming chemical safety laws and increasing investment in the solar energy industry. The Advocacy Fund did not respond to a request for comment.

Which kind of makes sense.  It’s pretty difficult to find any kind of support for science-based policy in the GOP funding establishment, so, at least for now, GOP candidates worried about the increasing reality-gap that is threatening their electability must go elsewhere.

3 Responses to “Kelly’s Heroes: Can GOP Escape the Climate Denial Ghetto?”

  1. petermogensen Says:

    I must admit, I’ve problems seeing how this makes up for all the harm GOP already has done to the planet.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      there’s nothing they can do to make up for the damage,but we have to start somewhere to dig out of the hole we are in.

  2. Just for some perspective, a blast from the past courtesy of The Guardian

    50 years ago today we were warned about Global Warming and Pollution

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