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The House’s Vulnerable Climate Champions

By Brad Johnson on September 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

"The House’s Vulnerable Climate Champions"

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Tom TolesThe Wonk Room has previously identified seven key U.S. Senate races and eight U.S. House races between a vote for climate action and a global warming denier. Today, the Wonk Room highlights six House races of the most vulnerable champions for climate action. They include three freshman representatives, two elected in 2006, and one veteran congressman, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA-11), who together represented the swing votes in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009. Their opponents are right-wing ideologues who parrot the party line that cap-and-trade legislation is a job-killing “energy tax”:

(86%) VA-5 Tom Perriello v Robert Hurt
(84%) MD-1 Frank Kratovil v Andy Harris
(72%) CO-4 Betsy Markey v Cory Gardner
(67%) NY-19 John Hall v Nan Hayworth
(63%) PA-11 Paul Kanjorski v Lou Barletta
(61%) NH-1 Carol Shea-Porter v Frank Guinta

The full list of key House climate races identified by the Wonk Room is available here.

VA-5: Tom Perriello v Robert Hurt

86% likelihood of Republican pickup

This is the challenge of our time,” Democratic freshman Tom Perriello has said of the fight against global warming pollution. “The jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era.”

In contrast, Republican state senator Robert Hurt wants to increase carbon pollution and Virginia’s dependence on fossil fuels. He is a strong supporter of drilling off the shore of Virginia and attacks cap-and-trade carbon markets as a job-killer:

“There are bills like cap-and-trade, which is the greatest example of excess in environmental policy. Cap-and-trade is not a bill that will do anything except harm people. It will kill jobs.”
[Jefferson Area Tea Party, 7/22/10]

Watch it:

In 2008, Perriello narrowly won by 727 votes the conservative fifth Congressional district of Virginia, which comprises south-central Virginia bordering North Carolina.

MD-1: Frank Kratovil v Andy Harris

84% likelihood of Republican pickup

“I’m proud to be fighting in Congress to protect the bay, encourage a new green energy economy, and finally take real steps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Democratic freshman Frank Kratovil has said. Representing eastern Maryland’s first Congressional district, Kratovil supported the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009.

Republican challenger Dr. Andy Harris bashed climate legislation as a “job-killing” “energy tax” in the press release for his first television ad:

“The job-killing policies of Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats – like the so-called economic Stimulus, the Health Care takeover, and the Cap and Trade Energy Tax – do nothing but place the debt of today onto the children of tomorrow.” [Andy Harris campaign, 9/10/10]

CO-4 Betsy Markey v Cory Gardner

72% likelihood of Republican pickup

In 2008, Democratic freshman Betsy Markey defeated Rep. Marilyn Musgrave to take Colorado’s conservative fourth Congressional district. “I think we need to work to advance renewable energy standards that make sense — that create jobs, reduce our crippling dependence on hostile foreign regimes for oil, and protect our environment for future generations — with little to no cost for the average energy consumer in the 4th CD,” Markey explained her vote in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Her opponent, state Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), is a global warming denier:

“I think the climate is changing, but I don’t believe humans are causing that change to the extent that’s been in the news. [Loveland Connection, 9/20/10]

Gardner also claimed green economy legislation “will devastate the economy” and “remove hope for any turn towards recovery in the near future.”

PA-11: Paul Kanjorski v Lou Barletta

69% likelihood of a Republican pickup

Veteran congressman Paul Kanjorski is a committed activist for a green economy. Explaining his vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, 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.”

On the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day, Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta attacked legislation to fight global warming pollution:

“The proposed cap and trade bill could place punishing taxes on American businesses, stifling the economic recovery and jeopardizing millions of jobs.” [Lou Barletta campaign, 4/22/10]

Barletta has signed the American For Prosperity No Climate Tax Pledge. The Kanjorski-Barletta race has been identified as a key race by the NRDC Action Fund.

NH-1 Carol Shea-Porter v Frank Guinta

61% likelihood of Republican pickup

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, first elected to New Hampshire’s southeastern first Congressional district in 2006, said then, “I’m one of the majority of Americans who believe the science.” Defending her vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, Shea-Porter said: “I voted for my children’s future and yours, and I am proud that this Congress said yes to a better future for all Americans.”

Before running for Congress, Manchester mayor Frank Guinta believed in fighting global warming. He proudly signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the Sierra Club Cool Cities Agreement, committing his city to meeting Kyoto Protocol targets. He now tries to act as if this never happened. Citing Heritage Foundation numbers in 2010, Guinta ripped climate policy as a “national energy tax”:

“One year ago this Saturday, Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) joined Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in the House in a close vote to pass the Waxman-Markey National Energy Tax, also known as cap-and-trade. This scheme is designed to tax homeowners and small businesses based upon their energy consumption with the hope that higher taxes will reduce energy use.” [Frank Guinta campaign, 6/24/10]

Guinta has also signed the Americans for Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge.

NY-19: John Hall v Nan Hayworth

67% likelihood of Republican pickup

Sophomore congressman John Hall “has been an active environmentalist” since the 1970s. “It’s time for Congress to move straight ahead with the issue of global warming,” Hall said upon his appointment to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, “and I’m confident that significant progress can be achieved.”

Hall’s opponent, Nan Hayworth, is a global warming conspiracy theorist:

Recent controversies regarding the scientific evidence of global warming indicate that we must regard any claims with skepticism, which is what true scientists are supposed to do. Pending the presentation of a more iron-clad case for man’s role in global warming, it’s still a reasonable goal to utilize energy wisely, to conserve resources, and to minimize pollution.” [Bazzo At Work, 3/18/10]

Hayworth also believes cap-and-trade “would more accurately be called cap-and-tax, and it is a bad idea for several reasons: it sets unrealistic goals that would require sacrifices that Americans cannot sustain, undermining our economy; it puts into place a complex system of carbon-emission credits that will unfairly favor certain industries and special interests; and the cost of the credits system will make life unbearably expensive for our consumers and increase the cost of our goods.”

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