Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: PA-08

This is the twentieth article in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.

Today, we examine Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional district — Bucks County, Montgomery County, and northeast Philadelphia.  Currently, the 8th Congressional district is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Patrick J. Murphy (D). Murphy is being challenged by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick.

Where does Rep. Murphy stand on clean energy and environmental issues?   In 2009, Murphy received a 93% rating from the League of Conservation Voters.   Murphy also voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), about which he correctly says, it “will create millions of new American jobs, limit the pollution that causes climate change, and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by investing in American-made clean energy.”  In addition, Murphy co-sponsored H.R. 890, the American Renewable Energy Act, as well as H.R. 2222, the Green Communities Act and H.R. 1778, the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) Program, among other excellent environmental legislation. Finally, Rep. Murphy touts the fact that “Bucks County is home to the fourth largest solar field in the United States – the largest east of the Mississippi River” and that “Nearly 1,000 people have been put to work building components for wind turbines and solar panels at the old U.S. Steel site in Fairless Hills in Bucks County.”

 

In contrast, Mike Fitzpatrick says he  “oppose[s] legislation currently being considered by [C]ongress that would implement a carbon ‘cap and trade’ system.”  Fitzpatrick also says he supports “a balanced national energy policy that includes safe, nuclear power, clean coal, responsible offshore drilling and economical, renewable energy.” When he served in Congress, Fitzpatrick received a 61% League of Conservation Voters rating in 2005 and a 73% League of Conservation Voters rating  in 2006.  Fitzpatrick showed a lot of promise last time he was in Congress, even co-cosponsoring Rep. Henry Waxman’s Safe Climate Act of 2006– which would have cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  Unfortunately, he has had a change of heart and now says he is against “Cap and Trade.”

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: PA-11

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Originally posted on The Mark Up.

This is the seventh in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.  

Northeast Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, including Scranton, Wilkes-Barres and the Poconos resorts, flourished in the 19th century after the discovery of anthracite coal – the highest carbon type of coal available. Coal mining drove development in the region until the 1940s, when demand shifted to cheaper alternatives like oil and natural gas. Today, coal mines are more of a tourist attraction than an economic driver, and Scranton is best known as the setting for NBC’s The Office.

For the past 25 years, the 11th district has been represented in the U.S. House by Democrat Paul Kanjorski. Throughout his time in Congress, Rep. Kanjorski has typically voted the right way on environmental issues. Last year, for example, he received a perfect score from the League of Conservation Votes, which means that he voted for the environment at every opportunity. This includes voting for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the first climate bill to pass a chamber in Congress. After the vote he said, “We need to begin the process of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, creating clean energy jobs in America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

In November, Kanjorski will be challenged for the third time by Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton. The Cook Report ranks this race as a “Tossup.” Barletta gained notoriety in 2006 when, as Hazleton’s mayor, he passed one of the nation’s most sweeping anti-immigration laws. He’s had little to say about environmental issues, however, during his multiple Congressional runs, and what he has said is less than encouraging. He wrongly claims that ACES will “stifl[e] the economic recovery and jeopardiz[e] millions of jobs.” The truth is quite the opposite. According to in-depth modeling built on collaborative research by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California, ACES has the potential to boost GDP by more than $100 billion, and create 1.9 million jobs.

Barletta has also been a steadfast proponent of offshore drilling and dirty fuels, like liquid coal. And, after the BP blowout, he posted on his blog that “[a] leaking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico does not justify the sinking of billions of dollars in a cap-and-tax scheme…” Actually, putting a price on carbon pollution is critical toward breaking our dependence on oil. We need to recognize that it is because we have not engaged in a serious effort to reduce our oil use that we’ve been forced to pursue petroleum products in sensitive areas like the Gulf’s deep waters. Whoever wins this race needs to help lead eastern PA into a new energy future.

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

Time to Turn Off The A/C At the White House?

As President Obama prepares for his meeting tomorrow with Senators at the White House to discuss clean energy and climate change legislation, he might want to check with the White House staff on an important matter first. No, not the details of the legislation, although that’s important of course. Instead, what President Obama might want to make absolutely sure about is the non-trivial matter of whether the White House air conditioning is in tip-top shape. I say “non-trivial,” but these days it’s more like “life or death.” How hot is it in the Washington, DC area?  As NBC Washington puts it, “We're Talking Spontaneous Combustion.” (UPDATE: it's more likely this is apocryphal than literally true, but it sure feels like plants could catch on fire these days in Washington, DC!)

How hot is it? It's so hot that dead plants are spontaneously combusting in Frederick, Md.

Don't believe it? Just ask Frederick County Fire Marshal Marc McNeal, who told the Frederick News-Post that excessive heat caused a dead plant to catch fire Sunday afternoon in a hanging planter on the rear deck of a townhouse.

The hanging basket fell to the deck and burned some vinyl siding, causing about $3,000 in damages.

It has definitely been hot in the Washington region. Monday will be the 10th day in a row that we've reached 90 degrees or higher, and this will be the 17th day of the month that the thermometer has reached 90.

NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein said that when it's all said and done, June 2010 likely will be the hottest June on record in the District.

Dead plants catching on fire in the hottest June on record in the Washington, DC area?  Sadly, this may not be an aberration, but a frightening sign of things to come in a global warming world.   True, we shouldn’t draw broad conclusions about the earth’s climate from one heat wave in one specific geographic area, as certain climate change deniers dishonestly did during last winter’s “snowpocalypse” blizzards.  However, when we see month after month, decade after decade of record-setting heat globally, it starts to get a bit hard to ignore.  

In fact, climate scientists are not ignoring these heat waves and other phenomena.  Earlier today, for instance, The Project on Climate Science reported that the “record-breaking heat wave” we are currently experiencing in the eastern United States “is consistent with climate change.”  According to Tom Peterson, Chief Scientist for NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, “We’re getting a dramatic taste of the kind of weather we are on course to bequeath to our grandchildren.”  Of course, as The Project on Climate Science points out, “individual heat waves can be driven by a number of factors.” However, they conclude, “more frequent heat waves are one of the more visible impacts of climate change already underway in the United States” and “will occur more frequently in the future.”

In sum, if you enjoy record-setting warmth – not to mention the stronger storms, mass extinctions and “record sea ice shrinkage” in the Arctic  that go along with that warmth – you have a lot to look forward to!  If not, then you should contact your Senator and let him or her know you want climate action now.  

Come to think of it, perhaps we should all hope for the White House air conditioning to be broken tomorrow – or turned off on purpose – so that the Senators meeting there get a taste of what the planet will feel like everywhere if they don’t do something about it now.  When you think about it, a bit of Senatorial sweat and a few stained shirts is not too high a price to pay if it results in long-overdue, comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation on the President’s desk sometime this sweltering summer.  Is it?