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A look at 11 key Senate races where Republican candidates give the finger to climate scientists


Once again, for the record, climatologists tell us that we Earthers need to be on a trajectory of getting off fossil fuels by 2030. Not completely off by then, of course. But on a path with a near-term possibility of zero emissions by mid-century in order to avoid even worse impacts than those our species has already baked into the climate with the toxic byproducts of our civilization. Every hour of delay getting onto that path ahead of the deadline lowers the odds of stopping or lessening the worst impacts of climate change

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorses candidates based on its assessment of their environmental views and actions. 

Scientists can’t tell us the exact timing of each of the constituent catastrophes of the climate crisis they predict will happen if we don’t get serious about addressing it. But we already have plenty of examples befalling us right now. The headlines these days look an awful lot like the litany of potential bad stuff you can find in all six of the U.N. climate assessments published over the past three decades.

Nor can scientists tell us when irreversible tipping points might kick in, only that they certainly will without a change of direction, and that we may already have passed more than one. They don’t say we’re inevitably doomed. We’re not. If, that is, drastic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions is undertaken immediately. If not, civilization itself is at risk, the human casualties will be enormous, and countless species will join the estimated million that are already headed for extinction. This isn’t hyperbole. It’s not socialist plotting. 

Ignoring the evidence and actively arguing and voting against even modest policies designed to lessen or avoid various climate impacts isn’t the work of fools, but of scoundrels, of which the Republican caucus is brimful.

Of course, the polls never put the climate crisis at the top of the national priority list. And, of course, there are plenty of reasons beyond continuing to wreck the climate for defeating this particular pack of scoundrels, some individuals of which, despite dissing Donald Trump in the past, are now his converted lickspittle—at least until November 9. Trump aside, they’re cogs (or wannabe cogs) in Mitch McConnell’s machinery of obstructionists and power abusers with all its destructiveness. That obviously includes the climate crisis that they don’t view as a crisis, as we saw when not a single Republican member of the House or Senate voted for the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Five of the 11 contests pit incumbent Democrats against Republican challengers, two of them pit Democratic challengers against Republican incumbents, and four are for open seats. 

It should be noted at the outset that although several of the Democrats in these races aren’t climate hawks, none is a climate science denier. The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, a pro-environment PAC, has endorsed every one of the them. A number have also been endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, Sierra Club Independent Action, and Climate Hawks Vote.


Pennsylvania

Mehmet Oz is the perfect starter for this review. This guy who once railed against herbal and other scam and sometimes dangerous supplements but then got super-rich from peddling tons of the stuff also once believed that human-caused climate change was real but has now has made a U-turn on that, too. It’s easy imagine that someone who casually tossed away the “first, do no harm” part of his oath as a physician would willing violate his senatorial oath.

There was a time back before Oz was making money from advocating hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure on his show, he acknowledged climate change as a health problem. But at a March candidate forum in Erie, Pennsylvania, Oz said, the “ideology that carbon is bad” is “a lie. Carbon dioxide, my friends, is 0.04% of our air. That’s not the problem.” 

This was long ago debunked and flies in the face of what scientists have been telling us about the greenhouse effect since physicist John Tyndall in 1859 and chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896 concluded that even at low concentration, COabsorbs infrared radiation and heats the planet. Arrhenius estimated that doubling the amount of COin the atmosphere would cause almost 6 degrees Celsius of warming, not far from what more meticulous calculations of modern scientists have found. 

Oz makes no mention of climate change on his campaign website, but rather:

Pennsylvania is a leader in the production of natural gas and coal. The Biden Administration has launched an attack on the energy industry stifling domestic energy production and weakening the U.S. position in energy production. These attacks have resulted in skyrocketing gas and energy prices and made our current energy options less reliable. Dr. Oz will work to overturn these heavy-handed regulations that are hurting Pennsylvania jobs and our local communities. 

The League of Conservation Voters includes Oz on its 2022 Dirty Dozen list.

ERIE, PA - AUGUST 12: Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) is welcomed on stage during a rally at the Bayfront Convention Center on August 12, 2022 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Fetterman made his return to the campaign trail in Erie after recovering from a stroke he suffered in May. (Photo by Nate Smallwood/Getty Images)
John Fetterman 

His Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, says climate change is an “existential threat” and notes at his campaign website:

I believe that climate change is an existential threat, and we need to transition to clean energy as quickly as possible. But we must do it in a way that preserves the union way of life for the thousands of workers currently employed or supported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and the communities where they live. We need to make sure that as we transition we honor and uphold the union way of life for workers across Pennsylvania, and create thousands of good-paying union jobs in clean energy in the process. […]

I have never taken a dime from the fossil fuel industry, and I never will. So you can be assured that any vote I take when it comes to energy production and climate will be what I believe is right — not what fossil fuel executives tell me to do.

In his many years as mayor of Braddock, Pa., Fetterman pushed clean energy policies. In his unsuccessful 2016 campaign, Fetterman favored a statewide fracking moratorium. But he’s not saying that now, arguing that “energy security” is a paramount concern. Last year, he said, “I have a position on fracking, that I clearly articulated, that Democrats must confront and be honest about energy and Republicans must confront and be honest about the environment.” [If fracking were banned] “Well, where does 40% of our energy come from? Now I would love all of that to come from wind and solar and renewables, but the reality is that’s not a switch you can flip and change overnight.” He also said that he believes there will be a “de facto” moratorium on fracking as the nation makes the switch to renewables. 


wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson gets a 3% score on his environmental votes from the League for Conservation Voters and is included as one of LCV’s 2022 Dirty Dozen. His campaign website has nothing on climate change. If that isn’t enough to make his stance clear, here’s Johnson in June, “I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullshit.” He didn’t say the word, but mouthed it and added, “By the way, it is.” Lord Monckton is a notorious British science denier given to expressions like “climate communists” and comparing them with Hitler Youth. At a 2016 event in Kalispell, Montana, Monckton said [Y]ou don’t have to worry about the cuddly polar bear. They are going to be just fine. Because what this means is that global warming will not affect us for the next 2,000 years, and if it does, it won’t have been caused by us. I therefore declare the climate scare officially over.”

US Senator Ron Johnson speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Ron Johnson

From The Hill:

“It was all about creating the state of fear as they tried to do with global warming. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s climate change now. Yeah. Whatever works,” Johnson said, according to CNN. “Whatever works that they can, you can set up a state of fear so they can step in and alleviate their fear.”

“Mankind has actually flourished in warmer temperatures,” Johnson said in 2016. “I just think the question always is what is the cost versus the benefit of anything we do to try and clean up our environment.”

“I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist,” he said. “Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change. 

The “climate is always changing” is a truism that many science deniers—particularly politicians—have shifted to after years of asserting that climate change was a hoax.


Mandela Barnes, Johnson’s Democratic opponent, is a climate hawk. Said Government Affairs Director Jennifer Giegerich of Wisconsin Conservation Voters, which endorsed him and gave him a 100% rating for his efforts in the Wisconsin State Assembly before he was elected lieutenant governor: “Mandela Barnes has championed climate action his entire career, including leading the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. Our communities in Wisconsin deserve leaders in Congress who will prioritize all communities, fight for environmental justice, and lead Wisconsin through a just and clean energy transition. Mandela Barnes will  represent our state in the fight for clean water, healthy air, and a resilient climate for everyone in Wisconsin.”

In 2019, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers appointed Barnes to head a state task force to develop  a blueprint to address climate change. The report from the task force includes 55 recommendations focused on limiting negative impacts of the climate crisis and boosting the economy with renewable sources of electricity. The recommendations cover energy, transportation, agriculture, education, forestry, food, jobs, and environmental justice.
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In his letter introducing the report, Barnes wrote:

The climate crisis has been hundreds of years in the making,and we know that we will not solve it with one set of recommendations or one biennial state budget, but our state has let this crisis go unaddressed for too long.

The people are ready for change.The people are demanding change.Farmers are choosing more sustainable agricultural practices. Utility companies are investing in renewable energy. And our local communities are reforming their policies to promote greener, cleaner economies.

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We can and must make Wisconsin a place where everyone can grow up in a safe and clean environment and has the opportunity to thrive, no matter their ZIP Code.


GEORGIA

Herschel Walker’s campaign website has nothing to say about climate change. However, at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in July, Walker said days after President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law: “They continue to try to fool you like they’re helping you out, but they’re not. They’re not helping you out, because a lot of the money is going into trees. You know that, don’t you? It’s going into trees. We’ve got enough trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?” 

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Former NFL player Herschel Walker visits the SiriusXM set at Super Bowl LI Radio Row at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
Herschel Walker

Besides its other climate-related funding, the IRA includes $150 million annually for “urban forests” in cities—like Atlanta—where, among other things, development cut down trees and increased potential flooding.

Walker also has said, “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then—now we got we to clean that back up.” 

Steven J. Davis, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, said in an email that the “way countries and regions improve their air quality is by reducing emissions of criteria pollutants.” A co-author of a study published in PNAS that found that as much as 12% to 24% of sulfate pollution over the western U.S. comes from export-related Chinese air pollution, Davis noted that there “can be inter-regional transport of air pollution across long distances, but air pollution doesn’t displace clean air,” but added that “It’s more like pee in a swimming pool: it dissipates and becomes less concentrated over dimensions of time and space, but no one is better off because of it.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock, on the other hand, received a 100% rating on the League of Conservation Voters’s most recent National Environmental Scorecard, which has, since the 1970s, evaluated incumbents’ votes on issues in the House and Senate. 

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on April 20, 2021. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Raphael Warnock

From Warnock’s campaign website, under the heading “Climate: Stewardship Of Our Children’s Planet”: 

The flooding and extreme weather we have seen in coastal Georgia and across the South are sobering reminders of how devastating climate change can be in our daily lives. Reverend Warnock believes we must accept the science, invest in infrastructure, and combat the climate crisis that is already at our door. He sees climate change as a moral issue, which we must act on by ignoring Washington special interests, and instead putting effective, common sense policies in place.

Reverend Warnock’s emphasis on climate justice is guided by his faith and his understanding that “the Earth is the Lord’s.” He understands that the harm we do to the planet often disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. He believes environmental policy doesn’t just focus on addressing long-term challenges, but everyday problems. That means recognizing and resolving the lack of access to clean water and air many Black and brown families endure and the higher share of income those families regularly pay in energy bills.

Together with Senate colleagues Jon Ossoff, Debbie Stabenow, and Michael Bennet, Warnock introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act last year to expand American solar manufacturing, accelerate the clean energy transition to clean energy, and support American energy independence. He also joined Sens. Sherrod Brown, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Stabenow, and Ossoff in co-sponsoring the Sustainable Skies Act to reduce carbon emissions by promoting a transition to sustainable aviation fuel. In 2019, Warnock hosted an interfaith meeting on climate change at Ebenezer Baptist with former Vice President Al Gore and the Rev. William Barber II with the national Poor People’s Campaign.


Arizona

Blake Masters,—the Republican candidate backed with $13 million from libertarian Peter Thiel—scrubbed his campaign website of his stance favoring a national abortion ban and of his assertion that the 2020 election was stolen. 

PRESCOTT VALLEY, ARIZONA - JULY 22: Former President Donald Trump (L) embraces Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters at a ‘Save America’ rally in support of Arizona GOP candidates on July 22, 2022 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Arizona's primary election will take place August 2. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Blake Masters gets advice from Donald Trump.

In a February interview, Masters whipped up a word salad to cast doubt on climate science. “We gotta figure out if the Earth is warming up, and why, and how much of it is caused by humans. The problem is people feel like they’ve been lied to, so much and so often, by the expert class. Not just on climate change, on everything—on COVID, on Jeffrey Epstein, on literally almost every narrative. […] don’t think there’s any sort of public health or climate science legitimate perspective that people perceive as such, and it sounds an awful lot that AOC just wants the keys to the entire economy, and that’s the work that climate change is doing.”

We don’t gotta figure out if the Earth is warming up or what’s causing it. Climatologists have made that case for more than 30 years, with evidence stacking up higher with each new assessment by the U.N. intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Masters’ attack on “elites” is straight-up Thiel dogma in which billionaires are supposedly underdogs. 

Masters’ campaign website says nothing about climate change. But it references his advocacy of more oil and gas production, and blasts the Green New Deal “and left-wing boondoggles like subsidized solar panels from China and wind power that doesn’t work.” In the midst of a Southwest megadrought worse than any for at least 1,200 years, he says:  “I will fight the federal bureaucrats who for decades have siphoned away our water and sabotaged our rural economy, citing bogus environmentalist concerns.” 

Sen. Mark Kelly, the Democratic candidate who the LCV gives a 97% rating on its national scorecard, has seen the impact of climate change in a way few Earthlings have—from space. During an interview with The View for his 2020 Senate run, he said, “Make no mistake: We have no place else to go,” noting that he saw from orbit more deforestation between his first space shuttle flight in 2001 and his fourth in 2011.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) listens during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on April 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of Senators gathered in support of the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which would move the decision to prosecute a member of the military from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
Sen. Mark Kelly

“Left unchecked, climate change poses a threat to Arizona’s economy and our way of life.  As one of the nation’s leading producers of renewable energy, this is also an opportunity for Arizona,” he told the news service Energy and Environment News. 

Kelly does not favor the Green New Deal and opposes the push by many of his colleagues to get President Biden to declare a climate emergency. But, from his perch on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, he has focused on the effects drought has on people dependent on the Colorado River’s water. 

In an interview with The Arizona Republic‘s podcast, he said, “If we address this now and put more money into research, development of technology, battery technologies, solar, wind, renewable energy, we can start to level off the amount of carbon that we’re putting into the atmosphere, that’s going to be good for the planet. It’s also going to be good for the economy.” 

In June this year, he chaired a hearing on the Southwest drought that has dropped water levels in the nation’s two largest reservoirs at historic lows.

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MISSOURI

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2020 file photo, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks during a news conference in St. Louis. Schmitt announced Wednesday, March 24, 2021, that he's making a bid for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's seat. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Eric Schmitt, as state attorney general, was the leading figure in a 12-state lawsuit against the social cost of carbon, something that he says on his campaign website—where there is no mention of climate change—“would cost not thousands but millions of jobs, destroy the energy, manufacturing, and agriculture industries, and impoverish working families.” He also joined a lawsuit to overturn President Biden’s decision to let California continue to set its own vehicle emissions standard, which a dozen other states follow. Quite the move by a guy who worships at the altar of states’ rights when it suits other parts of his agenda. He also opposes a proposed rule from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that would require publicly traded companies to disclose climate risks to their investors. In other words, when facts get in the way, hide the facts.

In a campaign event in July, he told the crowd, “My job right now as your attorney general is simple. I get up in the morning, I go to work, and I sue Joe Biden.” For instance, “We sued on the XL Keystone pipeline, we’ve sued on drilling on federal lands and off-shore drilling, and we’ve got to put a stop to it.”

“Rather than take steps to lower gas prices and curb inflation, the federal government wants to implement new burdensome requirements on companies that serve no purpose except virtue signaling,” Schmitt said.

MIssouri Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine
Trudy Busch Valentine

Trudy Busch Valentine is the Democratic candidate. On a WFAA.com candidate questionnaire, she answered this question: To what extent do fossil fuels contribute to the changing climate? To what extent should Congressional action attempt to alter that trajectory?

I think fossil fuels have contributed greatly to climate change and to a warming earth and to all the fires that we see, the droughts, we see the floods, we see the high temperatures, we see. It’s all over the world is not just in America. And we have to decrease our use of gas and all the other things that we’re doing. And we have to get back to a more sustainable energy and sustainable energy to me. And what we use at our farm is solar energy. And there’s good sources now for solar energy. It can lower the price that you’re paying to heat and cool your home and to have electricity. It also is a whole different area to get people back to work and get more jobs in the market. I believe we have to protect our common home and I see climate change and what is going on throughout the world is a crisis in health care.”

From her campaign website:

Trudy knows climate change is an undeniable scientific fact and that addressing this crisis must be a top priority in Washington DC.

Here in Missouri, the effects of climate change will impact our way of life as temperatures rise, lakes and ponds dry up, and farmers have an increasingly difficult time growing crops. Climate change is also a public health crisis as we adapt to higher temperatures and more contaminated air.

Trudy believes that we need to reduce our carbon emissions drastically,  ensure clean air and water, and transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources–like the solar power her own ranch in Missouri uses.

Renewable energy sources aren’t just good for the environment–they also cut costs long term, create new industries and new jobs, and lower our dependence on other countries for oil.

In the U.S. Senate Trudy will always have the courage to stand up to protect our climate and promote Missourians’ health and well-being.


Nevada

Adam Laxalt as Nevada attorney general joined other Republican attorneys general in 2016 opposing efforts by Democratic attorneys general to look into whether oil companies made fraudulent disclosures about climate. He also helped ExxonMobil fight one of those investigations, which was sparked by reporting from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times revealing that the oil giant had spent tens of millions of dollar to create doubt in the populace about climate change. Doubt that its own scientists knew were unwarranted. Doubt sustained on lies.

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks to the news media during a press conference by members of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., outside Clark County Election Department on November 5, 2020, in North Las Vegas. (Photo by Ronda Churchill / AFP) (Photo by RONDA CHURCHILL/AFP via Getty Images)
Adam Laxalt

Laxalt has called for an increased use of fossil fuels. In an interview in January, he said relying on solar and wind is “simply not enough. It’ll never get the job done.”

“As we know, the sun can stop shining, the wind can stop blowing, and these things take energy just to be able to use, to set them up in the first place,” Laxalt said. […] 

“You know, we have wildfires here in the West, and what do you see?” he said. “You’ve got [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom and our Governor [Steve Sisolak], they do these big press conferences about global warming being responsible for fires. No, it’s because we don’t have forest management … instead they want to blame something that’s not going to address fires.” […]

His campaign website includes no mention of energy, environment, or climate change. The League of Conservation Voters includes him in its Dirty Dozen 2022 roster of the worst members of Congress when it comes to environmental issues.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, on the other hand, got a 97% rating from the LCV on its national scorecard. She has been a leader on cleaner transportation alternatives since joining the Senate in 2017. In February 2021, she introduced a seven-item package of legislation that included the Clean School Bus Act, the Green Spaces, Green Vehicles Act, the Electric Transportation Commission and National Strategy Act, the Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act, the Greener Transportation for Communities Act, the Green Bus Tax Credit Act, and the More Access to ZEV Equipment (MAZE) in Transit Act.

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 23:  Former Nevada Attorney General and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto speaks at a campaign rally with U.S. President Barack Obama for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Cheyenne High School on October 23, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Obama urged Nevadans to vote early one day after a record-breaking start to early voting in the swing state with almost 40,000 people going to the polls ahead of the November 8 general election.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto

She has also paid attention to climate justice. In an op-ed for the Asian Journal in 2019, she wrote:

At a recent AAPI community business roundtable hosted by the Asian Community Development Council, UNLV student Caitlin Gatchalian asked me about environmental sustainability and how young Nevadans can make their voices heard in the fight for their future. As a young Filipina, she wanted to make sure climate change was at the forefront of the issues I’m fighting for in the Senate on behalf of Nevadans.

And she’s not alone in her concern about the disproportionate impacts climate change is having on communities of color, and the overall harm it’s bringing to our planet. Here’s why: while climate change is already impacting all Americans — including through increased air pollution, extreme weather and dangerous heat waves — these impacts are not equally shared among all communities.

In an East Las Vegas event discussing labor and climate issues three weeks ago, Cortez Masto said, “Every Nevadan, you just walk out your door, and you know the climate is changing. We have extreme weather, climate crisis, from the drought to the wildfires to everything that we have here, that has the benefit of really approaching this clean energy economy and being a part of it to reduce our emissions.”


Colorado

 Senate candidate Joe O
Joe O’Dea

Joe O’Dea, the construction company CEO who believes Trump lost the election, won the Republican primary, carving out a position for what today passes for a GOP moderate against Ron Banks, who supports the Big Lie and participated in the January 6 rally at the Capitol, although he did not go in with the insurrectionists. For example, while O’Dea has gained support from forced birthers, his anti-abortion stance includes exceptions for rape and incest. These days, that makes him slightly less extreme than a large segment of elected Republicans. 

Endorsed by numerous Trump allies and campaign operatives but not by the former White House occupant himself, O’Dea has tried to have it both ways on climate change. At The Washington Post, Dan Balz reported in August:

[O’Dea] believes the climate is changing but favors “prudent” rather than “urgent” action. Asked about his stance on environmental regulations, particularly with regard to fossil fuels, he said, “I would default to those people that know — oil and gas people.” 

As vast numbers of climatologists have made clear, urgent action on climate change is the only prudent path at this late date. Yet in a June primary debate, O’Dea said he saw no need for shifting away from fossil fuels for the “next 100 years.” 

In a June interview with The Denver Channel, O’Dea said,  ”Look, there is no doubt that the climate is changing. Everybody can agree that it is getting warmer. How much of it’s caused by man-made, how much of its natural, I still think there’s a debate to be had.” 

This is one of the key fallback positions of science deniers who were not so long ago trying to create doubt by asserting the climate wasn’t warming, the polar ice wasn’t dwindling, and scientists who said otherwise were just doing so for the grant money. When that became an untenable stance except among the most diehard naysayers, many switched to creating doubt by claiming that the climate has always changed and that this time is no different even though scientists say the speed with which warming is occurring is very different than in the past. While climatologists do wrestle with one another over the myriad details, only a sliver of repeatedly debunked critics still falsely claim there is a debate over whether greenhouse gases are heating up the planet. 

Unsurprisingly, O’Dea campaign website includes nothing on climate.

Sen. Michael Bennet has a mixed record on environment. In 2019 and 2020, he was the only senator to serve on both the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis and the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. He has promoted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to deal with what he calls the “global crisis” of climate change, but he has not favored the Green New Deal and other policies that climate hawks support, and he has supported some fossil fuel development as well as the Keystone XL pipeline.

SIOUX CITY, IOWA - MAY 18: Democratic presidential candidate and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet speaks to guests during a campaign stop hosted by the Woodbury County Democrats on the campus of Morningside College on May 18, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. Bennet is one of more than 20 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination and the chance to face off with President Donald Trump in the general election in 2020.   (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Sen. Michael Bennet

That has not stopped the LCV Action Fund from endorsing him, and the LCV gave him a 90% rating on its national scorecard. Sierra Club Independent Action also endorsed him, and the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund calls Bennet a “climate champion” in its endorsement, praising the senator for helping pass legislation involving public lands, wildfire prevention and environmental cleanup. The fund stated, “Over his two terms in the Senate, Bennet has been a powerful voice for Coloradans and the issues that matter most to them — including the responsible stewardship of public lands and waters, a cause he’s been championing since he first arrived in the Capitol back in 2009. Coloradans would be lucky to have him representing them in Washington for a third term.”

At his campaign website under the category of “Protecting Colorado’s Public Lands, Air and Water,” Bennet states:

DROUGHTS, WILDFIRES, AND AIR POLLUTION ARE THREATENING THE COLORADO WAY OF LIFE.

For years, Michael has fought for solutions that address climate change, cut pollution, and make sure all Coloradans have clean air and water. Michael is working to help Colorado communities recover from wildfires and prevent them from happening; plug orphan wells that release toxic methane and other pollutants into our air and groundwater; and upgrade our electrical grid and grow our renewable energy sector—all while creating good-paying jobs to execute these critical programs and ensuring that as we transition to a clean energy economy, no Colorado communities are left behind.


Florida

Sen. Marco Rubio received a 7% rating on the League of Conservation Voters 2022 scorecard. 

Like many other right-wing politicians trying to soften their earlier outright science denial, Rubio asserts that there’s still a debate on climate change. “Our climate is always changing,” he told ABC news. “We can’t do anything about the weather,” he claimed on another occasion. 

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29:  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the Heritage Foundation March 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. Rubio discussed the conflict in Ukraine and the challenges posed to the United States from China. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Sen. Marco Rubio

Back in 2010, when he was only hoping to become a senator,  he said that he didn’t “think there’s the scientific evidence to justify” the broad consensus that human-caused climate change is real. In 2014, he told Jonathan Karl on This Week, “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and — and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity.” The only think proposed actions would accomplish, he claimed, would be to “destroy our economy.”

In 2015, he said, “[Reducing emissions will] do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate.”

In 2018, he acknowledged to Jake Tapper at CNN that humans might be partly responsible for climate change, but then cast doubt, “I think many scientists would debate what percentage is attributable to man versus normal fluctuations.” 

In a 2019 USAToday op-ed, Rubio supported “adaptive solutions”—including protecting Florida’s coral reefs and improving the flow of water in the Everglades. Those are good ideas. We will have to adapt. But Rubio wrote nothing about reducing  emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change. Among the responses:

“America is America because we’ve never been simply willing to adapt,” argues Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, a leader in the push to slow the acceleration of carbon in the atmosphere.

“If there’s something that needs to be fixed, we fix it. That’s the way our country works.”

“It’s the same approach to gun safety,” Deutch notes. “Things are terrible and there’s a mass shooting every few weeks, but let’s just adapt.”

Rep. Val Demings received a 97% rating on the LCV national scorecard

The congresswoman serves as chair of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness. In June 2021, in an announcement of a hearing on impacts of climate change on national security, she said:

Democratic Representative from Florida Val Demings questions Ambassador Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council, testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. (Photo by SHAWN THEW / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SHAWN THEW/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Rep. Val Demings

“Climate change is real, it’s dangerous, and we need to do something about it. Our inaction is leading to stronger storms, rising floodwaters, spreading tropical diseases, and resource stress that will destabilize countries around the world. Fighting climate change is a homeland security necessity to keep all of us safe. I am pleased to announce a new hearing next week where we will be joined by scientific and emergency management experts to discuss the threat of climate change to our lives and safety, and what we can do about it.”

This hearing will be an opportunity for Members to ask expert witnesses about the significant risks of climate change, and the actions the Federal government – particularly the Department of Homeland Security – should take to address the challenges posed by climate change.

Here she is at that hearing.

And here she is responding to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v. EPA curtailing the agency’s authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.:

“The immediate impact of this decision will be more pollution, a more dangerous world, dirtier air and water, and greater threat from climate change. Pollution is a threat to our families, our infrastructure, our economy, and our future.

“We cannot continue to allow our air and water to be polluted by big corporations putting their profits before the health of Florida families. I will continue to work to protect clean air and clean water for Florida, to combat climate change, grow green jobs, and build a better future for the next generation.”

Under “Environment,” on her campaign website:

Here in Florida, our environment is our greatest treasure and our most important economic engine. Florida’s natural beauty, beautiful beaches, and clean air and water fuel our tourism-based economy. Chief Val Demings takes threats to our environment seriously, because they are threats to Floridans’ jobs and way of life. That’s why she opposes offshore drilling off Florida’s coasts, and why she has delivered funding to combat the toxic algae that impacts our shores and waterways. Chief Demings knows the threat of climate change is real, and that’s why she supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill which will fund billions of dollars of climate change-resistant infrastructure in Florida and create thousands of new jobs.

North Carolina

Rep. Ted Budd gets a 3% rating from the LCV on its national scorecard.

He told the told the Greensboro News & Record that “he does not see ‘clear evidence’ that man contributes to climate change.”

Senate candidate Ted Budd
Rep. Ted Budd

He has opposed investments in clean energy and the Paris Agreement. His campaign website includes nothing about climate or environment. He joined 41 other Republican representatives in urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to dump their proposal rule requiring companies to disclose their climate-related financial risks and report greenhouse gas emissions. 

In a press release on the matter, he said

“The SEC’s proposed rule would hijack the true purpose of financial regulation to further a radical environmentalist agenda, represents a blatant regulatory overreach by unelected bureaucrats instead of the people’s representatives in Congress, and would undermine our ability to produce more energy right here in America. The SEC should immediately terminate this thinly-veiled attempt to impose Green New Deal mandates onto private sector job creators.”

Cheri Beasley, who served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is his Democratic opponent. In addition to her endorsement from the LCV Action Fund, is the endorsement from the advocacy group Climate Hawks Vote. Co-founder RL Miller, who is the group’s political director, writes:  

“Cheri Beasley knows that the U.S. must tackle the climate crisis, and must do it now. She supports efforts to reduce carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, expanding North Carolina’s renewable energy industry, and worker training for clean energy jobs. She’s also an advocate for environmental justice efforts that address the disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change on vulnerable communities.”

From Beasley’s campaign website

Cheri Beasley
Cheri Beasley

Cheri believes that tackling the climate crisis is imperative to our health, economy, and security, and the consequences of inaction are already hurting the people of our state. Longer and more damaging hurricane seasons and extreme weather events shut down roads, cause utility prices to skyrocket, damages our military bases and grind local businesses to a halt. In the past several years alone, North Carolina has experienced multiple devastating hurricanes and storms that have left us with enormous economic damage.

Cheri supports investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, expanding our renewable energy industry and ensuring that workers across North Carolina receive the training they need for clean energy jobs.  There is also more to be done modernizing our electrical grid and building codes to increase energy efficiency.  Cheri will support efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

Cheri will fight for hurricane relief and recovery funding that helps North Carolina not only recover from storms but also build back stronger and more resilient. Under Governor Cooper, North Carolina has put forward an ambitious plan to combat climate change that requires support on a federal level. We must also act with urgency to protect North Carolina’s natural beauty for future generations and prevent efforts to drill off of North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina is the birthplace of the environmental justice movement, and Cheri believes that we must take action to address systemic disproportionate impacts of climate change and pollution on vulnerable communities in North Carolina. She believes all North Carolinians have the right to live in safe and healthy communities with clean air, clean water, and improved waste infrastructure — especially in communities of color, low-income and indigenous communities.  

Asked by an reporter whether the United States should increase production of oil and natural gas, Beasley doesn’t see that as a long-term solution.

“I think in the short term, that works. But in the long term, we really have to aggressively be thinking about how climate change affects the state,” she said. “And here, the hurricane season gets longer every year. We have droughts, and then we have sea levels rising, so everybody is affected by climate change. We have to reduce carbon emissions by half by the year 2030 and invest in other kinds of clean energy sources like wind and solar.”

When she’s asked about how you both reduce gas prices now and cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, she doesn’t see a contradiction.

“Those aren’t mutually exclusive. We really can still be fighting climate change and its impact on the people of the state at the same time,” Beasley said.


Ohio

J.D. Vance, the millionaire venture capitalist made famous with his book Hillbilly Elegy, is campaigning to replace the retiring Rob Portman. Not so long ago, Vance thought climate change was a serious problem. In a conference speech in February 2020, he said:

Senate candidate J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance

We of course have a climate problem in our society, one largely caused now by unrestrained emissions in China. Part of the reason we have that problem is because we’re not generating energy much cleaner than we used to 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, the biggest improvement in emissions is solar energy, which can provide a substantial amount of our power, but can’t provide anything like 50% of our power. Definitely not 100% of our power, and through, sort of, our increasing reliance on natural gas, which of course is an improvement over dirtier forms of power but isn’t exactly the sort of thing that’s gonna take us to a clean energy future.

But in a July 28 interview on the right-wing “Clay Travis & Buck Sexton” radio talk show, Vance blew off climate science and electric vehicles. Sexton said there isn’t a climate crisis, to which the candidate replied:

No, I don’t think there is, either. And even if there was a climate crisis, I don’t know how the way to solve it is to buy more Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles. The whole EV thing is a scam, right? So set to the side these questions about, you know, how much carbon drives the climate change situation. Look, I’m with you on this. I do not wake up in the morning thinking, [We’ve got] a climate crisis we need to destroy the economy to deal with.

On his campaign website, Vance says:

Ohio is one of the world’s top producers of natural gas and oil. It’s time for our nation’s leaders to recognize and implement policies that properly support the ample natural energy we can harness and produce right here at home. There is no reason for us to be buying foreign oil at insane prices and continue straining families financially just to fill up their tanks. We need common-sense energy policies that put the American consumer first, so that our country can become energy independent.

Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic candidate, received a 91% rating from the LCV on its national scorecard

From his campaign website under the title “Dominating the Clean Energy Economy and Protecting Our Natural Resources”:

Rep. Tim Ryan
Rep. Tim Ryan

With climate change already bringing more intense heat, flooding, and changes to growing seasons for our farmers—along with greater risk of heat death and more unsafe air quality days that disproportionately harm low-income communities and people of color—Tim recognizes that we can’t afford not to act. He’s pushed to pass a robust infrastructure plan that will put thousands of Ohioans to work modernizing our grid, going big on clean energy, and preparing for the challenges of the 21st century, all while using American-made materials.

There’s no reason we should be relying on wind turbines and solar panels made in China. Tim is fighting to cut Ohio workers in on the deal by revitalizing clean manufacturing here at home—so we can supply the world with American-made wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles, and everything else we’ll need to power the clean energy economy.

Ryan has long focused on supporting workers in an economy where so many manufacturing jobs have gone overseas. Under the current circumstances, he says those workers don’t have “the bandwith” to be concerned about climate change when they feel economically precarious. He sees the way to reach those people is getting them to view climate change as a “jobs program.”

At a CNN town hall in June, he said:

I talk about reversing climate change as a jobs program. We should dominate the electric vehicle market. We should dominate the battery market. We should dominate the charging station market,” he said, adding that China is currently dominating the electric vehicle and solar markets.

“Let’s talk about it in the context of jobs. Solar’s growing at 30% a year; wind’s growing at 20% a year. We’re going to make 30 million electric vehicles in the next 10 years. I want those made in the United States, and let’s steer the investment to the communities that have lost: communities of color, old coal, old auto, old steel, old rubber,” he said.

New Hampshire

[NOTE: Although the winner hasn’t been announced in today’s Republican primary for senate, with more than 60% of the vote counted, the most extreme of the main candidates appears on his way to victory with a lead that is now topping 3,500 votes, giving him 38.1% to 34.2% over the candidate in second place. So I am unofficially calling it the guy below.]

Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who had 10 tours of duty in Afghanistan in his 33-year military career, won his primary bid to be the GOP candidate challenging Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Some Republican heavy hitters in the state thinks he’s the worst choice primary voters could have made. New Hampshire’s Republican governor Chris Sununu refused to support Bolduc because he’s “not a serious candidate” but rather a “conspiracy theorist-type candidate.” The general previously called Sununu a “communist Chinese sympathizer.” 

LACONIA, NH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc greets supporters at a town hall event on September 10, 2022 in Laconia, New Hampshire. Bolduc is running against Bruce Fenton and Chuck Morse in the in the upcoming GOP primary.  (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Don Bolduc

The former Green Beret supports abolishing the Department of Education and the FBI. He’s also called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which guarantees the direct election of senators. He once said microchips were injected along with COVID-19 vaccine. At a recent debate, Bolduc said, “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by” it. 

Bolduc has nothing on his campaign website regarding climate change although he did sneer at the climate-heavy Inflation Reduction Act’s authorizing of Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, saying “Anything the government’s involved in, it’s not good, it doesn’t work.” He offered his views on climate In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio earlier this month:

Rick Ganley: Out of all the responses we received from listeners asking what’s on their minds for the election season, the top issue was climate change. I want to ask you, General, do you believe that climate change does pose an imminent threat? And what would you like to do about it?

Don Bolduc: Well, climate change is something that I’m always very concerned about. And I think, you know, that goes with my being raised here in the Granite State, in the Lakes Region, clean water, clean air. You know, we don’t want anything that we do to hurt the climate. I spent 33 and a half years in the military conducting operations and training humanitarian operations, combat operations. We were always very, very concerned about the climate and any damage that we did to the environment. And as a United States senator, I will approach this situation with a balanced approach that, hey, we need technology, we need to move forward, but we can do it in a safe way. And, you know, at this point, I’m very comfortable with America. What I’m not comfortable with is China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and how they pollute and how they hurt the environment. And that really needs to be addressed by the United States, by the international community.

Rick Ganley: Well, specifically, what would you like to see as far as legislation is concerned?

Don Bolduc: We can do it through sanctions. We can do it through, you know, trade. We don’t have to do business with them. We can remove our manufacturing from their countries, bring it back to the United States here. You know, there’s a lot of things that we can do to pressure them to clean up their act.

Nothing in that response about legislation on the United States cleaning up its act on climate.

Everything else about the Pentagon aside, both toxic burn pits in Afghanistan as well as 600 military sites that are contaminated Superfund sites tend to call into question that “very, very concerned” attitude the general asserts was “always” the case.

Sen. Maggie Hassan received a 99% rating on the League of Conservation Voters national environmental scorecard.

Sen. Maggie Hassan
Sen. Maggie Hassan

On her campaign website under the title “Standing Up to Big Oil, Combating Climate Change, and Building a Clean Energy Economy. 

Senator Hassan is going after Big Oil and working to build a clean energy economy. She is taking on Big Oil by pushing to end the billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies. She helped negotiate key provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure law that invest in clean energy and support domestic battery energy storage development and deployment — technology that is critical to expand clean energy. She introduced the NET METER Act — which was signed into law — to help states expand their net metering programs and lower costs for consumers. She supported the Clean Energy for America Act to invest in America’s clean energy infrastructure and create thousands of clean energy jobs. Senator Hassan also worked across party lines to pass into law legislation to conserve New Hampshire’s lands for future generations and is leading the fight to ban drilling off the New England coast.

In its endorsement of her, Sierra Club wrote:

A longtime advocate for action on climate change, as governor, Hassan led the effort to make New Hampshire part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). She also signed into law the Renewable Portfolio Standard, fully funded the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, and signed the climate initiative Under2 Memo of Understanding, an ambitious climate agreement for state and local governments. As senator, Hassan has fought to protect New Hampshire’s clean air and water, taken action on the harmful PFAS substances, and consistently supported investments in clean energy and clean infrastructure. This has included co-sponsoring the Clean Energy for America Act and being a strong supporter of President Biden’s plan to invest in climate, jobs, and justice.

From a 2019 interview with New Hampshire Public Radio:

Knoy: In terms of climate, Senator Hassan, you said you want “bite-sized” climate solutions. So what’s an example of a ‘bite-sized’?

Senator Hassan: Well, look let’s be really clear: we need to address climate change. It is an existential threat and we need to do it urgently. We also need to do it across party lines. We need to get moving on it now. And so you know I haven’t and don’t support the Green New Deal because it involves a lot of provisions that I think will be a distraction and cause more arguments while we have this pressing need in front of us that we need to be addressing right now. So we need to expand things like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, something that I worked on in the state Senate and as governor. We need to provide incentives for investments in clean energy, to be sure we need to work on energy efficiency within our buildings.

One of the most basic things we could do is work to make sure that the federal government’s buildings are much more energy efficient and use green energy, something that would have a real and significant impact. There is item after item here that we know we can do. We could work on net metering. I put in a bill that would make sure that states understood best practices in net metering, so more and more people could be incentivized to use green energy in their homes and sell back their access to the grid. We could all benefit from that. Those are the kinds of things we can do right now, that get us started, that have a real impact. And as we incentivize clean energy jobs and clean energy solutions, I think we will see a growing and better and better impact. And if there are more comprehensive things people want to talk about, we can talk about those too. But I don’t want the debate over things that aren’t directly related to climate change to derail our efforts. And since we know there are things that can work, we’ve seen them more in a variety of places, we should get going on those right now.





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