It's no secret that Congress isn't exactly popular with the American people. One reason for that is because what politicians say, and what politicians do, are often completely different things.
Let's look at Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) for an example of this. Just last week in a debate he said, "I think we need to do everything we can...to bring down carbon." And on his website, Rep. Coffman says:
There is no question that climate change is real and has existed since the beginning of time, and will always be a factor that can negatively impact our environment. The role that carbon emissions, from human activity, have on climate change is still a subject of debate. But what is clear is that we should do all that we can to reduce carbon emissions in order to improve the quality of our environment. However, we should do so under a balanced approach that considers the economic impact of the rate at which we reduce our carbon emissions.
While this clearly isn't straightforward climate denialism; Coffman tries to obscure and blunt his key statement -- that the role of human activity is "still a subject of debate" -- which is a simply inaccurate statement; virtually all climate scientists think human activity is contributing to climate change.
Rep. Coffman isn't willing to simply trumpet his denialism, probably because voters in Colorado (where Coffman represents a district of suburban Denver with an almost equal number of Republicans and Democrats) believe global warming is happening and are worried about it. In fact, according to a survey by Yale University, "more than half of Coloradans say that more should be done about global warming at all levels of government--from President Obama and Congress, to Governor Hickenlooper and the state legislature, to local government officials."
Yet none of this matches up to Rep. Coffman's voting record. He has a lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters of just 6 percent, and an even lower 2013 score of 4 percent. He voted to prevent the EPA from being able to limit carbon pollution from power plants, voted to slash funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency while boosting funding for dirty fossil fuel and nuclear generation technologies, and voted to prevent federal agencies from assessing the costs and dangers posed by climate change. And these are just three recent votes from 2014 -- the history of anti-environmental votes goes back years.
Do Rep. Coffman's constituents know about his extreme voting record? What we do know is that Big Oil and dirty polluters have taken note. They have rewarded him by donating $483,275to him since 2009. Individuals from the Oil and Gas industry have given more money to Rep. Coffman than all but 19 other members of Congress (out of 535 total) in 2014.
Our advice: We think Rep. Coffman should start voting for the things he says are important -- "we should do all that we can to reduce carbon emissions" -- and stop voting with the professional polluters and climate deniers.
Follow Heather Taylor-Miesle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NRDC_AF