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Congressional Candidates' Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: FL-24

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Originally posted on The MarkUp.

This is the tenth 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 Florida's 24th Congressional District, on the east coast of Florida and covering portions of Brevard (including Titusville), Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties. With Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, this area is known as the "Space Coast," and Titusville is nicknamed "Space City, USA." Since January 2009, the 24th congressional district has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Suzanne Kosmas. This year, Rep. Kosmas is being challenged by State Representative Sandy Adams, who won a narrow, upset victory in the Republican primary in August over former Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel and former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller.

So far in this campaign, Kosmas has stressed her work in Congress is "to bring real, common-sense solutions to Central Florida, including extending the life of the Space Shuttle, funding the new Orlando VA Medical Center and cutting taxes for small businesses." For her part, Adams has argued that "record spending" and "debt are enslaving our children and grandchildren." Adams also has asserted that "[l]iberal special interests, hostile to American traditions, are systematically stripping our country of the ideals that make us exceptional."

On clean energy and environmental issues, Rep. Kosmas has a superb voting record. In 2009, for instance, Kosmas received a perfect, 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), and an 83% rating from Environment America. Kosmas voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) , an extraordinarily important piece of environmental legislation which the New York Times described as "the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change." In April 2010, the LCV Action Fund endorsed Kosmas for reelection, stating that during her first term in office, "Representative Kosmas has quickly become a champion of legislation to create jobs and make America a leader in building the 21st century clean energy economy."

In contrast, in 2008, the Florida LCV gave Sandy Adams a 39.3 rating on environmental issues. Even worse, Adams has signed the Americans for Prosperity "No Climate Tax Pledge" to "oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue." Along these same lines, in early 2010, Adams sponsored a successful Florida House measure, urging Congress not to pass "cap and trade" legislation. Also, in this video from July 2010, Adams said that "cap and trade" really was "truly cap and tax" and vowed, "we have got to stand up...and fight to get our Congress back." In reality, of course, a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill would create a lot of jobs and cost households very little, so Sandy Adams is simply wrong when she disparages "cap and trade" as being nothing more than a new "tax." Also, it's pretty bold for Sandy Adams to be strongly against taking climate action, given that she wants to represent a district that could be partially underwater - at least if you believe the scientists - by the end of the century. Perhaps she might want to reconsider her stance on this issue?

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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