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Congressional Candidates' Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: NM-02

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This is the twelfth article in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.

New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District covers the southern part of the state, including Little Texas (as the southeast is known), Hatch Valley and Las Cruces (the state's 2nd largest city). The 2nd Congressional District is a diverse region, nearly 50% Hispanic, which relies on oil, mining and agriculture. Democrat Harry Teague, a former oil executive himself, has represented the district in the U.S. House since 2008. In November, Teague will face former Congressman Steve Pearce, who in 2008 left the House after three terms to run unsuccessfully for the Senate.

Energy and climate legislation is front and center in this race. In his campaign announcement, Pearce even cited Teague's vote 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" - as triggering his decision to run. Pearce also claimed (falsely) that Teague "embraced a reckless set of policies that directly jeopardize our economy and threatens future generations." Specifically, Pearce argued that ACES will "hit families with as much as $1,500 a year in higher energy costs," and "destroy jobs in New Mexico's clean energy sector."

Since Pearce didn't say where he got those numbers, it's tough to address them directly, but independent analyses of ACES indicate that such claims are way off. For instance, the nonpartisan experts at the Congressional Budget Office calculated the cost of ACES at $175 per household; and collaborative research by the by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California showed that ACES would create as many as 1.9 million new jobs over the next ten years.

Pearce's anti-environmental streak is nothing new. During his previous stint in Congress, he earned an abysmal 3% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). In comparison, Teague received an 86% rating during his first year in Congress.

On global warming, Pearce believes that the science is "crap" (a direct quote), that "climate scientists should be questioned more thoroughly because of the stolen e-mails," and that "[i]f they don't believe it, why should the rest of us be penalized in our standard of living for something that can't be validated?" In fact, there is overwhelming, "undeniable" evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not only taking place, but is accelerating. As to the so-called "climategate," this supposed "scandal" has been thoroughly refuted. Even if Steve Pearce doesn't "believe" it has.

As if all this isn't bad enough, Pearce stands with the radically conservative Americans for Prosperity in opposing climate legislation. As The New Yorker magazine explained in a recent expose, this industry front group was founded in 2004 by David Koch. David and his brother Charles, as you may know, are the nefarious, oil billionaires who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting their hard-line brand of libertarianism. In addition to eliminating all taxes, one of the Koch's top priorities has been undermining environmental regulations. In fact, as The New Yorker points out, "from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change." The sad truth is that Steve Pearce is exactly the type of candidate the Koch's would be proud to support.

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.

Originally posted on The MarkUp.

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