As the 2014 congressional and senatorial elections near, one key issue that both sides are planning to capitalize on is the various candidates’ positions on climate change and energy.
Senate GOP Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a prime target of the Democrats in their zeal to protect their majority in the Senate, is castigating Barack Obama for what is often termed Obama’s “war on coal.” McConnell is being challenged in the GOP primary and then must face Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. McConnell wants to link Lundergan Grimes to Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations that would harshly regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. McConnell notes that the regulations would hurt energy jobs.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super-PAC, ripped Lundergan Grimes with a radio ad stating, “Across Kentucky, thousands of coal jobs are disappearing. Obama’s war on coal is hurting whole families and communities. But Obama says he needs more allies in Congress to finish forcing his liberal agenda on our country. That’s why here in Kentucky Obama’s supporting Alison Grimes.”
Another conservative group, the American Energy Alliance, is airing campaign ads attacking Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) for his backing of a carbon tax.
On the other side of the aisle is Tom Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund manager. He’s a green activist who has invested huge sums of cash into environmental causes, and wrote on NextGen Climate’s website, keystonetruth.com, “This election year, more than ever, we must hold our leaders responsible for the role they play in the fight against climate change.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “He is building a vast political network and seizing opportunities provided by loose campaign finance rules to insert himself into elections nationwide.”
Jeff Gohringer of the League of Conservation Voters, a liberal nonprofit that spent $15 million in 2012 backing “pro-environment” candidates including $1.7 million for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, said just before McAuliffe was elected that his candidacy would show future candidates “that when they lean into these issues, they will be supported by a strong political force.” Gohringer boasted to The Hill on Tuesday, “We’re proud of our success in Virginia and Massachusetts this year, and [of] making climate change an issue in those races. We want to build on that momentum. We’re in the process of making decisions for 2014. Defending the Senate firewall to prevent the gutting of environmental protections will be a major priority for us.”
In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the new chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, may be in trouble and try to mitigate it by trying to grab federal funding for energy development. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), sensing that association with Obama’s climate change agenda may hurt him, suddenly said Thursday he was in favor of more oil exploration.
The Sierra Club, ever vigilant to any threat to its tree-hugging agenda, said it plans to impel its 2.1 million members and supporters to get involved as they did in 2013 races in Virginia and Colorado, in which candidates sympathetic to the green agenda won reelection. Sierra Club Director Michael Brune emailed The Hill:
Americans widely support climate solutions like accelerating job-creating wind and solar energy growth, tackling dangerous carbon pollution from dirty power plants, securing strong strangers to protect our air and water, and protecting our public lands from destructive drilling and mining — we will help ensure the contrasts between candidates on these issues are clear.