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The post-debate analysis is in full swing, and while pundits are talking about Governor Romney’s aggressive manner and President Obama’s subdued performance, the real story is how many times Romney strayed from the facts. On energy issues alone, he not only distorted the truth but he also misrepresented his own positions.

It began when Romney said he supported clean energy. This passing remark came after he spoke at length about expanding oil and gas drilling and building the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. It also came after he let us know: “I like coal.”

I am not surprised Romney paid lip service to clean energy. Nine out of 10 Americans say developing renewable energy should be a priority for the president and Congress, and that includes 85 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Independents. And two thirds of Americans want to extend tax incentives for clean energy.

But Romney’s own positions would thwart the rapidly growing clean energy economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it creating.  He wants to kill incentives for wind power—incentives that enjoy strong bipartisan support, perhaps because more than 80 percent of installed wind power comes from Republican-majority states. And his economic plan calls for cutting clean energy investments by 90 percent, down to just $1 billion in 2014.

Romney repeatedly criticized Obama for his clean energy incentives. But once again, his facts were wildly off base. He cited the $90 billion the Obama administration invested in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency measures for homeowners, public transit, and other stimulus projects, and tried to claim that clean energy received more government help than fossil fuels.

The historic record proves otherwise. A study of by DBL Investors found that the oil and gas companies have received $446.9 billion in subsidies (1918-2009) and the nuclear industry scored $185.7 billion (1947-2009). Up until 2009, meanwhile, the renewable sector outside of biofuels had gotten only $5.9 billion.

The $90 billion the Obama administration has invested in clean energy since then has already delivered amazing returns: wind power has doubled in three years, solar power has quadrupled in four years, and more than 1 million homes have received energy-saving retrofits. More than 150,000 Americans have jobs making parts for and assembling clean cars—hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren’t even available 10 years ago. And consumers can find nearly 60 fuel-efficient models in showrooms today—up from 27 in 2009.  These cars are putting more money in Americans’ pockets and helping American automakers come back from the brink.

Romney tried to ignore this success by saying half of Obama’s clean energy investments had failed. That’s simply false. While a handful of companies granted loan guarantees have folded,hundreds of other companies are succeeding. In fact, the failure rate for clean energy loan recipients was only 1.4 percent by the end of 2011.

When all the smoke clears and the conversation shifts from style to substance, voters
will realize the clear choice before them. One candidate will keep America hooked on the same fossil fuels that have been polluting our air for decades. The other has presided over the largest increase in clean energy in our nation’s history and strengthened public health and environmental protections. Those are the facts and hopefully they will garner greater attention as we head into the next debate.

Discuss

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

Discuss

Over the years, I’ve shared a lot of my joy, pain, frustration, humor and personal disposition on this blog. I’ve talked about my job, my family and my passion for protecting the environment and public health. The one common thread connecting everything I do is my kids.

Being a mother is something I take very seriously. As my kids are growing up I’m learning a lot about being a good parent. I’ve also developed a (probably not so) unique talent I like to call the “mommy voice.”

You know what I’m talking about, the voice of your mother calling out your full name. The sound that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck just at the thought of it.

The good news is I use this voice sparingly and only when necessary. Usually it’s in a way to protect my kids from harm. Which I think is exactly what moms are supposed to do to keep our kids safe.

But, it’s not just moms who should be putting our kids’ first. I also expect our elected officials to put the health and safety of our kids ahead of the deep pockets of polluters. This belief is why I do what I do. And it’s why the actions of Heather Wilson, a candidate for U.S. Senate from New Mexico, are so egregious.

When given the chance to stand up for hard-working New Mexican families and the health of their children, Heather Wilson has sided with polluters and their big checks -- every time.

Her votes [1] in Washington have allowed big oil companies off the hook for polluting New Mexico’s drinking water with MTBE, a toxic chemical which studies show may cause cancer [2]. This even includes the drinking water at a school.

As a person who works in the environmental and political field, I shouldn’t be surprised her campaign finance filings show she collected thousands of dollars worth of polluters’ campaign contributions. However, as a mom, it’s shocking because there is no price tag you could ever put on the health of my children.

Isn’t it time we raise our collective “mommy (and daddy) voices” and tell politicians they are in a time out until they start putting our kids first?

[1] HR6, House Vote 145, 4/11/03; HR4503, House Vote 241, 6/15/04; HR6, House Vote 129, 4/21/05; HR6 House Vote 132, 4/21/05; Environmental Working Group, “Like Oil and Water.”

[2] Burns KM, Melnick RL. MTBE: recent carcinogenicity studies. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2012
Jan-Mar;18(1):66-9

Discuss

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?

I am hoping that this is Mitt’s last flip flop on this issue. Heat waves and droughts are showing average Americans what a warmer world feels like -- and it hurts. It would be nice to have two candidates engaging seriously on an issue of this importance. It would also be nice if Mitt could put a stop to the professional whiplash that I’m experiencing trying to keep track of his positions.  

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.

Discuss

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

Discuss

When a group of Senators tried to kill standards that protect Americans from mercury, arsenic, and other toxic pollution from power plants, 53 Senators stood up for our health and preserved the standards.

There were many heroes that day, but one really stood out to me: Senator Jay Rockefeller.

Senator Rockefeller represents West Virginia, and though coal companies have often had a stranglehold on state politics, Rockefeller gave a clear-eyed speech from the Senator floor that set the record straight.

“The shift to a lower-carbon economy is not going away, and it's a disservice to coal miners and their families to pretend that it is,” he said. “We need to focus squarely on the real task of finding a long-term future for coal that addresses legitimate environmental and health concerns.”

Back in West Virginia’s capital, the Charleston Gazette covered the speech on its front page with a headline declaring: Jay to Coal: ‘Face Reality.’ The paper endorsed Rockefeller’s position with an editorial called, “Go forward, not back, on coal.”

I spent a lot of time in West Virginia as a kid. My grandfather was a minister there, and we attended his services every weekend. I remember how proud he was of his state and its long history of rugged independence. In many ways, West Virginia is a place apart. Its craggy ridges and hollows, music and culture, and long tradition of coal mining give it a unique flavor.

Yet the debate raging in the state right now echoes the tensions running through the 112th Congress and the current election cycle.

Will polluting industries continue to resist public health safeguards at every turn? Will energy companies keep looking backward or will they start embracing change? Will we elect leaders who represent special interests or ordinary citizens?

Dirty fuel companies are pulling out all the stops to maintain the status quo, both in West Virginia and around the nation. They have saturated West Virginia air waves with ads saying coal is under siege by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The truth is coal is struggling because of market forces, not clean air standards. The President of Appalachian Power recently told the Charleston Gazette, “Nobody is building any new coal [plants]. The economics just aren't there. Gas is just so cheap. ... I don't think anybody is going to build a coal plant, given natural gas prices. It's just economics.”

You don’t hear many coal executives acknowledging this reality. As Rockefeller said in his speech to the Senate, “The reality is that many who run the coal industry today would rather attack false enemies and deny real problems than find solutions. Instead of facing the challenges and making tough decisions like men of a different era, they are abrogating their responsibilities to lead.”

West Virginians—and all Americans—deserve leaders who will face the facts and prepare for a better, more sustainable future. Leaders who will help coal miners and power-plant operators train for the low-carbon economy. Leaders who will promote responsible energy development and protect our kids from toxic air pollution at the same time.

Rockefeller has proven capable of that kind of leadership. I don’t always agree with him, but I know his vote and his comments last Wednesday will help lead his state into the future. It’s time we listen to that wisdom and elect more lawmakers who can lead us into the cleaner future.

Discuss

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.

Discuss

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.

Discuss

You may have heard about the recent kerfluffle surrounding the Obama campaign’s late addition of “clean coal” to the list of energy priorities listed on its website. This has me wondering why so many Dirty Energy politicians are so excited about “clean coal.”

The premise behind “clean coal” is presumably that coal is inherently dirty, but that if you do enough to deal with all that filth, you can make it clean. Many would argue that coal can never be clean. But, watching the polluter posse’s votes in congress and listening to their rhetoric on the campaign trail, you’d think that coal isn’t even dirty.

Here is just a selection of the recent times when Members of Congress had the chance to go on the record in support of cleaning up coal:

•    In April 2011, an amendment in the Senate to strip EPA of its ability to reduce the carbon pollution received 50 votes. Since coal fired power plants are a large source of carbon pollution, this was presumed to be part of EPA’s “War on Coal.” The House version of the bill had passed in a vote of 255 to 172.
•    In October, the House voted on and passed a bill that would prohibit the EPA from setting strict rules on how to dispose of toxic coal ash, which is filled with arsenic, lead and mercury. It passed with 267 votes. The Senate companion already has 13 cosponsors. Pro-coal members are now trying to tuck a version of this bill into the transportation bill, since it is unlikely to be signed into law by President Obama.
•    In November, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul offered a resolution that would have stopped lifesaving new protections to reduce smog and soot pollution. It garnered 41 votes and fell short of passing.
•    And now, Senator Jim Inhofe has filed a new resolution to void long-overdue limits on mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

There doesn’t seem to be nearly enough support for “clean coal” when I look at this record. Instead, I see politicians who want to ensure that coal never has to get cleaner. From mercury that damages the brains of unborn children to the devastation of mountaintop removal mining to nasty spills of coal waste, some clean coal advocates seem almost eager to look the other way.

Surely some of these clean coal proponents will claim that the coal should be cleaned up, but that coal companies and power plants just need more time to do it. Don’t be fooled. The special resolutions being used to try to stop many of these pollution rules would stop EPA from ever issuing a similar rule again. That likely means that if Senator Inhofe gets his way, mercury at these power plants would spew forth into our families and our environment, without limits, forever.

Montana Senate candidate Denny Rehberg says he wants to make clean coal “safer and more efficient.” Yet, he’s supported each of the efforts above. What does clean coal mean to him?

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith is bankrolling his own candidacy with funds he earned as an executive in the coal industry. He sees clean coal as a tremendous opportunity. Do you think he’ll support any of the efforts to actually make coal cleaner?

It’s time to stop the greenwashing. Rebranding dirty old coal as “clean coal” doesn’t magically make the filth disappear. Next time you hear a candidate propound the virtues of clean coal, I urge you to ask whether they see “clean coal” as a real aspiration for improving public health and the environment or just the vessel of another empty promise.

Discuss

Long-time Senator Richard Lugar lost to Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock in Tuesday’s Indiana Republican primary contest. In a legislative body like the Senate where compromise and bipartisanship have long been necessary, this is another blow for getting things done.

In recent years, the upper chamber has lost - due to primary challenges, general election losses or resignations attributed to frustration with polarization - a number of moderates, including Olympia Snowe, Evan Bayh and John Warner. These Senators were often willing to buck their party leaders and cross the aisle on issues like climate change and energy security, forging the coalitions necessary to pass legislation.

Although not a central reason for why Lugar lost, Mourdock had criticized Lugar’s associations with groups like the Alliance to Save Energy and the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security Initiative. That’s because these groups had the nerve to endorse comprehensive energy legislation that would have dramatically improved the efficiency of our nation’s buildings and appliances while reducing costs. They also supported policies to reduce our dependence on foreign oil which increases our national security and protects our troops. All issues which should not be polarized by partisanship.

In his lengthy concession statement, Lugar focused on the costs of partisan politics and the need for elected officials to study the issues and sometimes take a different view than their party. He said,

“Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times.”

Protecting public health and our environmental safeguards not only confronts Congress on a daily basis, it is also moving front and center in the 2012 elections. At the same time, new science suggests that the consequences of inaction on climate change could be more severe than we had previously imagined and today renowned climate scientist James Hansen wrote a scathing editorial in the New York Times calling for serious action to be taken.

Lugar is correct to point out that the inability to work across party lines threatens our ability to address this and other challenges. That’s why the NRDC Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization working to rebuild the environmental majority regardless of party affiliation. We want to remind candidates that you can run on clean energy and protecting public health and the environment, because it’s what Americans really want from their leaders.

Mother Nature is not registered with a political party. She’s just looking for all the help she can get.

Discuss

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been speechless. As a professional communicator, that’s probably a good thing. However, when the following headline: Heartland Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder, reached my inbox this morning, I sat staring at my computer screen, with my mouth gaping, completely at a loss for words. Seconds later, after finally recovering from my initial shock, the words “now I’ve seen it all” came to mind.

While the Heartland Institute is known for its outlandish propaganda against climate change, this is a new low and might I say ill-advised attempt to win over the hearts and minds of Americans. A recent poll from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion shows that 62% of Americans believe climate change is real. This number is significantly higher than polling from just two years ago. The trend is linked to respondents acknowledging their own personal experiences as the main reason they believe the earth is warming.

Aside from the fact that solid scientific evidence and public opinion are not on their side, the Heartland Institute decided to plow ahead with comparing the majority of Americans (myself included) to Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Charles Manson (a mass murderer) and Fidel Castro (a dictator) in their new ad campaign in Chicago. If, like us you don’t really identify with those notorious figures, you’re in luck. Future ads may feature Osama bin Laden. Seriously. I wish I was making this up.

There comes a time in all political discourse that someone must say “enough is enough” and this simply “goes too far.” The Heartland Institute should be ashamed of this type of extremist gamesmanship, which as the NRDC Action Fund previously blogged, “No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people.”

What the American people want and need is a real dialog about how we can work together to invest in clean energy, while protecting our precious resources and the health of our kids. It’s time we all drew a line in the sand and told the likes of the Heartland Institute to stop these types of outlandish ads.  

2012 Elections, Climate Change, Clean Energy

Discuss

The NRDC Action Fund just released a book called Reckless about the House Republican majority that cast more than 200 votes against environmental safeguards last year. We aren’t the only ones dismayed by the rise in GOP extremism. Republican leaders are too.

This week, two esteemed conservative thinkers published a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Mann and Ornstein are no lightweight centrists; they are the Republicans of the Republicans. If they see fault in their party’s lurch to the far right, then you know things have gotten out of hand.  

Their piece made me realize just how many lawmakers seem to have forgotten why they serve. This is true of Republicans and Democrats alike, but the Republicans have cast themselves as the Party of No and made the defeat of the other side their primary goal. No one actually wins this kind of game. Instead, we end up with one big loser: the American people.

Citizens send lawmakers to Washington to govern, not to play chicken. GOP’s obstructionism may score points with their base, but it prevents Members from actually doing the work of government and administering the public’s shared resources including roads, schools, clean air and water.

Most of the public servants I know—from Hill staffers to PTA presidents—pursue their line of work because they want to make things better. Politicians who see victory in paralysis seem to have lost sight of that goal. They have become like the young boy who dreams of playing in the NBA, but gets so focused on the machinations of what it takes to make it that he loses his love of the game. I get it. Institutions like Congress can grind people down. But that’s why we need leaders to stand up and offer inspiration—not nay saying.

The proliferation of negative ads is a symptom of this larger trend. Every political operative will tell you: campaigns use negative messages because they work. They lodge in people’s minds and deliver votes. But here is what’s different this year: PAC money. A new post by Paul Blumenthal includes some stunning statistics:

“While spending in support of one candidate nearly doubled from $19.14 million in 2008 to $36.59 million in 2012, spending against other candidates by independent groups exploded by 680 percent, from only $6.97 million in 2008 to $47.28 million in 2012.”

PACs are fueling the antagonism of an already polarized election cycle. When my two children are fighting, I don’t step in and raise the heat by saying: “Son, don’t you remember how your sister stole your ball? Or “Honey, he hit you first, didn’t he?” The PACs are the equivalent of a mother reminding her children why they hate each. If you stand in the way, you will never find resolution.

Then again, some companies behind the PACs don’t want resolution. Bloomberg News recently reported that 81 percent of anti-Obama ads focus on energy. Americans for Prosperity—a group supported by oil companies—spent more $16.7 million between January and March on negative ads attacking Obama’s energy policies.

Oil companies benefit from a paralyzed political landscape. If Congress can’t pass any laws, then companies don’t have to clean up their pollution, invest in low-carbon technologies, or give up their generous tax breaks. The American people, however, are stuck with the dirty air, the extreme weather events, and the wind turbine factories moving to China.

Candidates who make clean energy a central part of their platform can correct that imbalance. Clean energy is about job creation, competitive advantage, clean air, health families, and keeping our troops out of harm’s way. It’s about building things, not destroying them.

That’s what makes it a powerful antidote to current political antagonism. Lawmakers may debate the best way to promote clean energy or confront climate change, but the fact remains that expanding the clean economy will benefit America. Isn’t that why lawmakers serve in the first place?

Discuss
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