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Congressional Candidates' Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: OH-15

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This is the sixth 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 Ohio's 15th Congressional District, which includes downtown Columbus and parts of neighboring Franklin, Madison and Union counties. Columbus is home to the Ohio State University and has the highest proportion of young professionals, aged 25-34, of any city in the country. In 2008, Mary Jo Kilroy became the first Democrat elected in the district since 1982, when she narrowly (by less than 2,500 votes) defeated Republican Steve Stivers. Kilroy and Stivers will be matched up again this fall.

Since coming to Washington, Rep. Kilroy has consistently voted for environmental protections and moving America to a clean energy economy. In her first year in the House, she received a perfect 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, which means she voted the right way on every environmental vote. This includes voting for the historic American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the first climate bill to ever pass in a chamber of Congress. In a statement following the vote, Kilroy said "The clean energy economy is the future of our country and of central Ohio...We are seeing the consequences of not investing in the next big idea with our auto industry. [ACES] secures Ohio's strong position to make the solar panels and wind turbines that will power our nation in the very near future. It will also benefit Ohio's agricultural sector, which can provide the plant material needed for the bio mass products that boost energy production." She added, "This bill puts the central consumers first and insulates them from shifts in prices. For less than a trip to the movie theater, Americans are going to create 1.7 million (jobs), end the stranglehold foreign countries have on energy and work to save our planet."

In sharp contrast, Steve Stivers falsely calls cap and trade a "job killer" that will lead to higher electricity bills for Ohio families. In reality, strong clean energy and climate legislation would create a net of 1.9 million jobs, according to in-depth study by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California. In Ohio, this would mean 61,000 new, good-paying jobs created over the next ten years. And, as analysis by the experts in the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows, the effect of ACES on electricity bills will be, as Rep. Kilroy said, less than going to the movies once a month.

Stivers doesn't just stop at opposing clean energy and climate legislation, he also "disagree[s]" with the statement, "Man-made global warming is a scientific fact and immediate action to lower CO2 emissions is necessary to prevent an environmental catastrophe." And, if denying the unassailable science behind climate change wasn't enough, Stivers also opposes our right to hold the government accountable in court for protecting our public health and environment.

Stivers' strong anti-environmental views are not so surprising when you consider the sources of his campaign cash, such as oil and coal services giant Koch Industries, Murray Energy and Rep. Joe Barton's Texas Freedom PAC. What's wrong with these companies and PACs?

Koch Industries is privately owned by Charles and David Koch, who, according to Greenpeace, have "quietly funneled [$50 million] to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming." Robert Murray, the head of Murray Energy, is an outspoken climate denier, who said in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee that global warming is "one of the biggest con jobs in the history of the Republic." Murray continued to criticize the legacy of Rachel Carson, saying that "She and her environmental followers killed millions of human beings around the World with the ban on DDT." Murray concluded by claiming that climate change legislation will "result in no environmental benefit." Finally, the Texas Freedom PAC is headed by Joe Barton, who infamously apologized to BP, and who also called the BP escrow fund that will pay businesses that lost money because of the Gulf disaster a "$20 billion shakedown."

These are a few of Stivers' big donors, all major polluters or supporters of major polluters, which makes you wonder what they think they're getting for their large donations to the Steve Stivers for Congress campaign.

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.

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