Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Richard Nixon would admire the latest smears levied by Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) against his opponent Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Toomey attacks Sestak’s support for climate legislation in a web video that falsely claims that his opponent is “far to the left of even most Democrats on cap-and-trade,” quoting Democratic senators and representatives who have raised concerns about proposals to reduce global warming pollution. “I pushed hard for the cap-and-trade bill” passed by the House last year, Sestak says in the Toomey video.
In fact, most of these legislators quoted in the video have actually voted for legislation to cap global warming pollution from power plants, oil-based fuels, and other large emitters. Joe Sestak’s support of American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), H.R. 2454 is well within the Democratic Party mainstream — 83 percent of House Democrats supported the bill. Seven out of Pennsylvania’s other eleven Democratic representatives — including Reps. John Murtha (PA-12) and Mike Doyle (PA-14) — voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), H.R. 2454, last year. Eight Republican representatives also voted for the bill, including current Republican nominees for U.S. Senate Mike Castle (R-DE) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).
A look at the positions of the eight Democrats quoted in the Toomey video demonstrate that Sestak’s support for pollution reduction is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party and in sync with the American people.
JOHN DINGELL (D-MI) “Nobody – nobody in this country realizes that cap-and-trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one.”
REALITY: Dingell, like Sestak, voted for H.R. 2454. According to the non-partisan, independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the legislation would cost the average household about three dollars per week.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND) “I do not support however a cap-and-trade system.”
REALITY: Dorgan is to the left of Sestak. Dorgan favors reducing carbon pollution but opposes using market-based trading mechanisms to do so. “I support a cap on carbon,” he said. “I support pricing carbon.” The cap-and-trade mechanism was first proposed by Republican President George H. W. Bush and included in the Clean Air Act of 1990. The Environmental Protection Agency determined that program had successfully reduced the sulfur dioxide pollution responsible for acid rain at “just one quarter of original EPA estimates.” “Experts generally conclude,” CBO writes, “that market-based approaches would reduce emissions to a specified level at significantly lower cost.”
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN) “The problem with cap and trade -and uh- global warming, Chris is we can do that, but if you don’t do it in the right kind of way you run the risk of -uh- sending jobs from our country, places like your home state of Pennsylvania or mine of Indiana, to other countries that have lower emission standards, so the irony would be we’d lose jobs and not help with global warming.”
REALITY: Bayh, like Sestak, voted for cap-and-trade legislation to reduce global warming pollution. Bayh has voted for global warming pollution reduction legislation every time it has been on the Senate floor – in 2003, 2005, and 2008. Furthermore, ACES would actually create jobs throughout the United States with studies finding the legislation would spur the growth of between 72,000 and 78,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania. As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted: “[E]very day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy.”
SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE) “I do not support the cap-and-trade approach.”
REALITY: Nelson’s stance on global warming legislation is incoherent, with statements that have indicated both support for and opposition to mandatory greenhouse pollution reductions. Nelson is heavily funded by corporate polluters, receiving $553,300 from agribusiness, $164,200 from oil and gas interests, and $140,199 from electric utilities in 2009 alone.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI) “We don’t want to rip off Wisconsin. I want to make sure that our ratepayers in this state don’t get a raw deal.”
REALITY: Feingold, like Sestak, voted for cap-and-trade legislation to reduce global warming pollution. Feingold has voted for global warming pollution reduction legislation every time it’s been on the Senate floor — in 2003, 2005, and 2008. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania ratepayers would benefit — the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that ACES would lower the average household’s utility bills by seven percent due to its energy efficiency measures.
BLANCHE LINCOLN (D-AR) “Uh- the Waxman-Markey picks winners and losers and places a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses.”
REALITY: Despite Lincoln’s claim that ACES “places a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses,” the CBO found that the average lowest-income household would be better off than it is today – it would have an additional $120 per month in income.
PETER DEFAZIO (D-OR) “Europeans have had a market based cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gas emissions for four years, and it has failed.”
REALITY: DeFazio is to the left of Sestak. DeFazio voted against ACES because it employed a market-based system to reduce global warming pollution, preferring a more expensive “regulating and reducing” system. The Congressional Research Service has determined that the European Union’s Emissions Trading System is achieving significant pollution reductions.
JIM WEBB (D-VA) “The bureaucracy that-that was gonna come out of -uh- last year’s bill was -uh- looked like something you would get out of the-the old Soviet Union.”
REALITY: Webb, like Sestak, voted for cap-and-trade legislation to reduce global warming pollution. Webb voted for global warming legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) in 2008, which relied on market-based mechanisms to achieve its pollution reductions as cost-effectively as possible.
Like Senators Bayh, Dorgan, Feingold, and Webb, Sestak supports reductions in carbon pollution. Along with Representatives Dingell, Murtha, Doyle, Castle, and Kirk, he voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would create jobs, increase American energy independence, and slash pollution. Despite Toomey’s best efforts to smear him, Sestak — like most Americans — wants to reduce carbon pollution, increase energy independence, and create new American clean-energy jobs.
Former Representative Toomey, on the other hand, has repeatedly voted to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the big oil companies, even though the five largest companies made nearly a trillion dollars in profits in the past decade. Toomey also voted against protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes from oil drilling. He voted against a Republican representative’s proposal to waste less gasoline in vehicles, which would have reduced our use of foreign oil. Big oil donors, who oppose reductions in carbon pollution, gave Toomey $100,000 in campaign cash – with more than half in 2010.