Mitt Romney is Out of Step with the American People on Energy Policy

Last year New Mexico was No. 1 in the nation for installing solar power.

It is one of the top states in the country for wind energy.

New Mexicans also benefit from energy efficiency programs. With $8.9 billion in annual energy expenditures each year, energy efficiency programs could save New Mexico residents some serious money – and reduce the amount of toxic power plant emissions they have to breathe as well.

Yet what’s the crux of the energy vision Mitt Romney laid out in New Mexico today?

He wants to get rid of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that are employing New Mexicans and saving them money.  His solution?  Pretend it’s 1900.  More drilling, more fossil fuels, more of the same.

In disclosing his so-called energy plan in Hobbs, N.M. today, Romney didn’t even bother to mention that one of our country’s most significant energy savings programs is about to be finalized as early as this week.

The Obama Administration is about to implement new clean car standards that will push average auto mileage to 54.5 per gallon by 2025, saving consumers around $8,000 on gas during the life of a vehicle.

In New Mexico, that also will mean residents will save a total of 135 million gallons of fuel and $575 million when fully implemented – not to mention reducing thousands of tons of tailpipe carbon pollution each year, according to a NRDC analysis released just this week. For a dog’s-eye view of what these standards will mean for America, make sure to check out: http://www.doublethempg.com/  

Few issues illustrate the stark differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama like their views on where to take America on energy.

If your desire is to:

  • move America backward;
  •  keep us shackled to Big Oil;
  • forever be dependent on foreign oil supplies and the wild price swings in the international oil market; and
  • leave the planet in terrible shape for our children.

Then Romney’s your man.

If you want to move America forward, and keep developing the growing clean energy economy that’s benefitting New Mexico and every other state in the country – then remember what President Obama has done so far.

As Bloomberg News reported this week, electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar has increased by 73 percent since President Obama took office. President Obama’s clean energy programs have helped create an estimated 2.7 million clean economy jobs, according to the Brookings Institution. Those are real jobs, providing real paychecks to real Americans, many of whom live and work in New Mexico.

If Congress ignores Mitt Romney and reauthorizes the Production Tax Credit that has already created 75,000 jobs in the wind energy industry (and that many Senate Republicans support), America could get as much as 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

If Romney and the GOP would stop trying to denigrate and decimate America’s solar industry, we could get as much as 25% of our energy from rooftop solar panels alone in 40 states (51% in Nevada and 52% in California). Instead of focusing on the failures of a few companies, they should be noting the enormous growth in solar overall.  Ideology has blinded them, and they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Mitt Romney is simply out of step with the American people on energy policy, as with so much else.   In survey after survey, Americans overwhelmingly say they want Congress and the White House to do more to increase clean energy sources in this country, and wean us off of fossil fuels. Those opinions do not differ in New Mexico, which is why we support environmental champion Martin Heinrich in his bid for U.S. Senate. Increasing clean energy sources is good for our economy, good for our health and strengthens our national security.

Either Mitt Romney doesn’t get this message from the American people or our voices are being drowned out by the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from dirty polluters.

It’s your choice. Which America do you want?

Mitt Romney Energy Plan Fact Sheet

 

 

Where Does Heather Wilson Stand on the Ryan Budget?

Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has thrust Ryan’s controversial budget proposals into the national spotlight. On the campaign trail, candidates are being asked about the Ryan budget. Unfortunately for voters, some candidates, like New Mexico Senate candidate Heather Wilson, refuse to come clean about where they stand on this proposal to dramatically shrink the federal government and change or eliminate popular programs - including many that support clean energy investment.

That’s right. While the press has understandably focused on the Ryan budget’s impact on Medicare, the Ryan budget would decimate other critical government initiatives as well.  Just one example – the Ryan budget would eliminate our nation’s investment in clean energy and kill a lot of clean energy jobs in the process.

According to an analysis by Congressman Henry Waxman, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ryan budget “would cut billions of dollars in funding for development of clean energy and eliminate programs that have helped support over 60,000 jobs.”  Waxman’s analysis finds that:

  • The Ryan budget would cut the Department of Energy’s budget by 57%. Cuts of this magnitude would cripple efforts to improve energy efficiency and make renewable energy commercially available at a competitive cost;
  • The Ryan budget would eliminate successful clean vehicle loan programs. These programs are helping the U.S. become a leader in plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle technologies and creating jobs in the auto industry; and
  • The Ryan budget would eliminate clean energy loan guarantees that are helping to launch large-scale wind and solar energy projects.

On top of these cuts to clean energy, the Ryan budget preserves nearly $40 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

Where does Wilson stand on this? We don’t know. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Wilson  “has refused for two consecutive years to take a definitive stand on Ryan’s controversial budget blueprints.”

We don’t know whether she and Ryan share the same view on his budget, but we do know that many of the same Big Polluters are funding both campaigns. Over the course of her political career, Wilson has taken $741,132 from the oil and gas industry, making her one of the top-20 recipients of oil and gas money to serve in the House of Representatives. Ryan’s still-hefty haul of $244,250 may pale in comparison, but he takes another prize: Koch Industries’ $65,000 in donations make them his largest energy-related donor.

We know where Wilson’s Dirty Energy donors stand on the Ryan budget. It’s time for Wilson to tell us whether or not she agrees with them.

 

 

 

 

Romney & Ryan’s Fossil Fuel Favoritism: Starve Clean Energy, but Feed Oil with Taxpayer Money

Mitt Romney announced last week he would not extend an incentive for wind and solar power if he were elected president. Clean energy is often cast as a Democratic issue, but the incentive has broad Republican support. More than 80 percent of installed wind power comes from Republican-majority states.

Romney, however, persists in deriding the success of renewable energy. In an op ed this spring, he said wind and solar power were part of President Obama’s “imaginary world.”

Yet any American who has taken a road trip this summer knows clean energy is very real. Wind turbines have sprouted on ridgelines across the country, employing steelworkers, producing income for farmers, and generating clean energy that doesn’t endanger our health.

Roughly 35 percent of new power built in the United States in the last four years has come from wind, and more than 100,000 Americans now have jobs in the solar industry.

Clean energy has become one of the brightest spots in our economy and helped retain our competitive advantage in the global market. But Romney can’t see where the future is headed. He wants to end renewable incentives, yet continue underwriting oil and gas companies with billions of taxpayer dollars every year. He wants to turn his back on the innovative edge of the energy market in order to prolong the same coal, oil, and gas habits we have used for the past century.

His new running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, shares Romney’s fossil fuel favoritism. The Ryan budget passed by the House would dish out $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies over the next ten years, but would slash clean energy investments by 90 percent by 2014—down to just $1 billion.

Romney and Ryan’s failure to support clean energy is a failure of imagination. They are so eager to appeal to the far-right side of their party and placate their deep-pocketed donors from the fossil fuel industry that they can’t see what any American driving through Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Michigan and countless other states can see: clean energy is already taking root in our communities, already putting people to work, and already making our air safer to breathe. We should nurture this growth and prosperity, not thwart it.

The Best Ticket Dirty Money Can Buy

This morning, we awoke to news that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be Mitt Romney’s running mate. 

I am sure the Koch brothers are smiling this morning because they have been cultivating Congressman Ryan since he set foot on Capitol Hill, giving him one of his first donations in 1999.

Koch Industries, owners of one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world, has been the 6th largest contributors to Cong. Ryan during his career, giving him $65,500.  In fact, the oil and gas industry has given him $244,250 since 1999.  Now sure, the Koch Brothers are behind Philip Morris, and the NRA, but they played the long game with this career-politician pick and Ryan as VP will solidify their support.

The fossil fuel industry was already sitting pretty even before the Ryan selection.  The Romney campaign has already benefited from the overwhelming spending of outside groups, like Restore our Future, a well known Koch-funded entity, that has already spent $14,011,137  in a brazen effort to buy the White House.

What has this money bought for the polluters?

Romney went from standing in front of a coal plant talking about how they kill people in 2003 to standing with one of the most radical members of the Senate, James Inhofe (R-OK) to stop EPA’s efforts to reduce mercury from power plants.  As my colleague at NRDC, John Walke, says, “It’s appalling that anyone would vote to expose our children to more mercury, a dangerous brain poison, and over 80 other toxic air pollutants that power plants in the U.S. spew every day.”  John goes onto note that these standard are projected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths; nearly 5,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and 540,000 days when people miss work and school. 

For his part, Cong. Ryan, with his abysmal 16% League of Conservation Voters score, has voted to delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators that also emit mercury.  He voted against efforts to protect communities from coal ash - the toxic byproduct of burning coal that contains arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals - metals that when some are ingested have devastating results like lower IQ

As someone who spent much of her youth in towns in Appalachia surrounding these coal facilities, I can tell you that the devastation is enormous and the fact that Ryan took the side of the polluters instead of children with learning disabilities caused in some part by that pollution is astonishing.  Add on top of all of this, the cuts that Ryan’s budget proposed - cuts that would’ve devastated community water systems and kept enforcement cops off the street who keep companies from breaking laws that protect our communities.  Heck, his budget would’ve even eliminated programs for sidewalks, not to mention public transportation infrastructure

Yes, Koch Industries is sitting pretty today.  Let’s hope that the voters see in November see that a Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t about protecting their families or helping us get on the right track - it is the best ticket dirty money can buy.  Look no further than the record to see for yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the True Extremist Please Stand Up?

It can’t be easy being a climate denier this summer. Record-breaking heat waves, freak storms, enormous fires, and the worst drought in 50 years are making it harder to ignore the reality of climate change.

Many meteorologists, network news shows, and public health officials are speaking candidly about the connection between extreme weather and climate change. These conversations confirm what so many of us can see with our own eyes: We just have to look outside or turn on the Weather Channel to see what global warming is doing to our communities.

And yet some candidates persist in denying the facts in front of them, even while their own states bear the brunt of climate change. Sticking your head in the sand is never a good position for a leader to assume, but it becomes downright irresponsible when people all around you are struggling.

Take New Mexico, for example. In the senate race, Former Representative Heather Wilson paints her opponent, Representative Martin Heinrich, as an environmental extremist because he wants to address climate change. Wilson, meanwhile, has rejected the idea that human activity is causing global warming.

Wilson likes to position herself as a moderate, but ignoring one of the biggest threats to your state’s economy and well-being is not a sign of moderation; it is a sign of recklessness—especially when your state is as vulnerable to climate change as New Mexico.

In May, Governor Susana Martinez declared the entire state was in a drought. “Fire danger is high, water reservoirs run low and in some cases, we’ve seen towns like Las Vegas take dramatic steps to reduce basic water consumption in their residents’ homes and businesses,” the governor said.

Last year was no better. A dry winter and a dry monsoon season left much of the state parched. New Mexican ranchers ended 2011 with the smallest cattle inventory in more than 25 years. This spring saw more cattlemen having to thin their herds as the drought continued. Ed Polasko, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service focusing on New Mexico, says that even if the monsoons bring moisture, the state has been so dry and so deep in a rain deficit that it will take a long time to recover.

The Southwest has always experienced drought cycles, but climate change can make them more frequent and more severe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a report confirming that last year’s record-breaking drought in Texas was made “roughly 20 times more likely” as a result of climate change.

Hot weather and persistent drought have left New Mexico with tinderbox conditions. Last year’s Las Conchas fire scorched more than 156,000 acres, consumed dozens of homes, trashed the watershed of the Santa Clara Pueblo, and nearly consumed the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was the biggest fire in state history—until it wasn’t. This year’s Gila fire is even bigger, devouring more than 265 square miles of forest and prompting smoke advisories to be issued from Albuquerque to Carrizozo to Roswell.

Many factors contribute to wildfires, but experts have been warning for years that climate change is making matters worse. “The effects of climate change will continue to result in greater probability of longer and bigger fires seasons, in more regions of the nations,” concluded the 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review issued by the U.S Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies. 

The soaring temperatures, prolonged droughts, and intense wildfires now threatening New Mexico are hallmarks of climate change. Heinrich has responded by reviewing the science, accepting the facts on the ground, and proposing solutions to stabilize the climate.

Wilson has chosen to keep her eyes closed. Maybe she is afraid the Tea Party crowd will abandon her if she acknowledges climate change. Maybe she is under the influence of the polluting energy companies who release carbon emissions and support her campaign. Or maybe she simply doesn’t have a grasp on the evidence.

Whatever the reason, Wilson has proven to be the true radical here. Only an extremist could discount the overwhelming scientific consensus and believe that denial is the appropriate response to persistent drought, hot temperatures, and raging fires.   

 

 

 

 

When Did Compromise Become A Bad Thing?

Chock up another win for the radical. Tea Party darling Ted Cruz trounced conservative David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff for the Texas senate seat on Tuesday night. How did a first-time candidate with so little name recognition pull off a 14-point victory over a GOP favorite?

Sheer stubbornness. Cruz and Dewhurst share many conservative beliefs, but Cruz set himself apart by accusing Dewhurst of what the Tea Party has turned into a political sin: compromise.

Cruz loves to criticize others for being too quick to compromise - but isn’t that part of effective governing? This refusal to reach agreement with other members of Congress earned him the support of Sarah Palin, Tim DeMint, and other Tea Party kingmakers.

Other candidates have used a similar brand of obstinacy to beat GOP conservatives in Indiana, Nebraska, and Delaware. This rise in extremism may excite far-right voters, but it doesn’t bode well for nation as a whole. We are facing frightening challenges, from financial turmoil to climate change. If elected officials refuse to talk with their colleagues about how to solve these problems, America won’t be able to move forward.

It’s quite simple really. When my son and daughter squabble with each other or run into trouble on the playground, I tell them to try to work it out amongst themselves first. If every parent knows the value of give and take, why don’t more Tea Party politicians?

In the absence of conversation, we end up with a pack of bullies. Just look at Congress’ record on the environment. GOP lawmakers in the House have voted more than 200 times to undermine public health and environmental safeguards. They have moved to thwart the clean energy technologies that will make our air safer to breathe and put American companies at the forefront of a massive global market. And they have forced America to face the threat of climate change without a national plan for fighting it or even getting prepared.

Most of these votes have been cast in the name of lofty principle and anti-regulatory purity. But ideology for the sake of ideology is irresponsible when your citizens are facing real and pressing dangers, whether it is cancer-causing pollution from power plants or extreme weather events brought on by climate change.

I live in California where a new report was released this week by the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Energy Committee. It notes that climate change will bring my state hotter summers, shorter rainy seasons, and drier days.  It will also threaten the state’s electricity sector as the state will have a harder time generating and transmitting power - and let’s not even get into the fact that the report notes the expectation that the sea level along our coasts are expected to rise 31-55 inches by the end of the century.  

But at least my state is examining the hazards of climate change. Short-sighted North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation that would prevent predictions about the state’s sea level rise from incorporating climate change trends. How can people protect their families and their property if the state won’t even acknowledge the problem?

The GOP hasn’t always been committed to sticking its head in the sand. It has a long and impressive tradition of supporting environmental protection. President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, President Bush signed the amendments that made the law stronger, and countless Republican lawmakers have supported conserving America’s natural heritage.

You don’t achieve these milestones by drowning out the voices of your colleagues across the aisle; you do it by conversing, negotiating, and yes, even compromising.

I was pleasantly surprised that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to a budget deal that will avoid a government shutdown. But my next thought was: oh no, the Tea Party is coming to get you John Boehner. You will be punished for making a deal with the Democrats.

Yet if the Tea Party continues to support candidates who only say no, it is in danger of branding themselves into a corner. Americans may have hit record levels of frustration with Congress, but in the end, we want our government to function. We want lawmakers who are at least willing to talk about the issues facing our nation—and maybe even lead us into the future.

 

 

Don’t Fire Me for Not Knowing Romney’s Position on Global Warming

I don’t mean to sound like a whiner, but Mitt Romney is making it hard for me to do my job.

You see, as the primary editor of and contributor to the Markup blog for the NRDC Action Fund, one of my responsibilities is to keep our readers informed about politicians and the environment. In the middle of a heated presidential campaign, you’d think I would be able to tell you where the two major party candidates stand on our issues.

However, I’d be lying if I said I could. For the record, I blame Mitt Romney. He has changed his position so frequently that I never know what the man is thinking on any given day.

You might recall that last June Romney told a New Hampshire town hall that:

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

Just five months later, Romney officially earned his Tea Party merit badge in denial when he said:

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

And now it appears Romney may be trying to get back in the good graces of the 70 percent of Americans who do think the climate is changing. Last week, a Romney campaign surrogate, Linda Stuntz, stated that Romney is “certainly not a denier” of global warming. Is this a new (or perhaps I should say “revitalized”?) position or did Stuntz just stop reading her briefing book before she got to the most recent position?

If I can’t learn his position soon, I will just have to hope that my bosses don’t share his love of firing people.

 

 

 

Win-Win-Win

I like to win.                    

I don’t think that makes me very different from most people.  But, it’s not often that I get to declare a win-win-win though. Which is why today’s announcement in Michigan is so exciting!

Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs collected more than 500,000 signatures to ensure a proposal will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot which will require that 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025.

Win #1-Job Creation

Currently, Michigan imports its energy from other states and countries. This means jobs and billions of dollars being sent outside of the state. This ballot proposal will help Michigan build a clean energy industry within the state, allowing residents to stop exporting their money and jobs. The proposal would also establish incentives to hire Michigan workers.

Win #2-Reduced Energy Prices

Studies by independent economists predict that it would only cost the average Michigan household an average of $1.25 a month, but in the long run could reduce their energy bills. Think about the possibilities of expanding Michigan’s clean energy production without increasing energy prices. The proposal would also limit consumer rate increases related to the generation or purchase of renewable energy to no more than 1 per cent per year.

Win #3-Public Health

Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass are clean energy sources which will reduce pollution and further protect the health of all Michigan families. This proposal will give Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water. It will protect the Great Lakes, reduce asthma and lung disease and ultimately save lives.

Scores of Michigan businesses, organizations, individuals and public officials are supporting the ballot proposal and the NRDC Action Fund is proud to stand with them today as we march towards a win for all of Michigan this November.

  

 

 

Portrait of a Flip Flopper: Mitt Flips on Mercury

Yesterday, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney waded into the “current” Congressional battle to clean up power plants, taking the side of industry over public health.

It is a sad day on a number of levels.  Not only is a Presidential candidate turning his back on millions of children in favor of his dirty air backers, but he is also turning his back on his legacy as an environmental leader during his tenure as Massachusetts’s governor from 2003 to 2007.  

In 2003, then-Governor Mitt Romney stood in the shadow of a power plant and chastised the industry for their toxic emissions that were killing people.  He stated in 2003, “Massachusetts has been a national leader in the effort to clean up our oldest and dirtiest power plants. The implementation of these new mercury standards, coupled with major reductions in other air pollutants now underway, will ensure that the citizens of the Commonwealth will breathe the cleanest air possible.”

His campaign’s statement shows that candidate Romney is willing to say anything, do anything, and promise anything to please his dirty air backers.

 

 

Come Clean Dirty Thirty

Most people are familiar with the slogan “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” Well…this may come as a surprise to you, but it seems that this mantra is also taking a hold on some of the Senators you send to Washington. NRDC Action Fund is here to shed a bright light under the cloak of secrecy on the latest group of elected officials, who we’ve dubbed, the “Dirty Thirty.” They may think what happens in Washington, stays in Washington, but you deserve to know better.

With Congressional approval ratings at an all time low, it’s no wonder the “Dirty Thirty” are playing games with Senate rules to keep their support for repealing clean air safeguards which protect our kids. This secret group is being lead and kept hidden by Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma.

These critical safeguards protect our families from mercury and dozens of other toxins spewed by U.S. power plants. Wouldn’t you want to know if your Senator was supporting this type of attack on the air we breathe? That’s why we sent a letter to Senator Inhofe demanding that he release the names. Thus far, he has not done so.

We think it’s time for Senator Inhofe and his “Dirty Thirty” to come clean with their constituents and explain why they are willing to legislate Vegas style by rolling the dice with our public health protections. Join us in asking Senator Inhofe to release the “Dirty Thirty” by visiting www.thedirtythirty.org and by tweeting: @inhofepress: come clean on #thedirty30 senators who oppose life-saving clean air protections: http://www.thedirtythirty.org

What happens in Washington directly impacts the health of you and your family. Together we can tell our representatives to stop gambling with our health and to come clean about their stances on these issues.

 

 

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