While clean energy advocates were celebrating President Obama's newly released Climate Action Plan this week, national Republicans wasted no time in rushing to the video editing booth to launch new and false advertisements aimed at halting progress. Just two days after the President's plan was released, the National Republican Congressional Committee had already launched an ad designed to scare residents in Rep. Collin Peterson's Minnesota congressional district (MN-07). The same ads were replicated for at least six other districts (AZ-08, IA-02, MN-08, NH-01, TX-23, WV-03) .
The ad commits three major sins:
1. Fails to Acknowledge Climate Change. The first sin is a sin of omission. The NRCC ad completely fails to acknowledge the threat of climate change or to realize that Americans are feeling the pain of climate change already. Americans remember that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record and was the warmest year on record. Around Rep. Peterson's home state of Minnesota, temperatures ranged from the warmest to the third warmest on record. The state has also experienced three "thousand-year floods" in the previous eight years; simultaneous flood and drought disaster declarations in different parts of the state; and high heat-index readings and associated health warnings. As Rev. Mitchell Hescox, an evangelical Christian, put it in a recent op-ed, climate change is "the greatest moral challenge of our time." Willfully ignoring such a challenge is surely sinful.
2. Fails to Realize that Americans Want Action. In its second sin of omission, the NRCC seems to forget that large majorities of American voters - of all political persuasions - support the President in directing EPA to take action to address climate change. A Georgetown poll released the day of the speech found that "Eighty seven percent of Americans support some EPA action on the issue, including 78 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats." That's consistent with a series of other polls that find Americans want EPA to reduce carbon pollution.
3. False Statements on Cost. The most serious sin is the ad's false suggestion that President Obama's Climate Action Plan will be hugely expensive, harm the economy and cost jobs. Analysis by NRDC has shown that the benefits of reducing carbon pollution from power plants outweigh the costs by 6 to 15 times. Consumer energy bills can be lowered under a plan that reduces carbon pollution. For example, in the Northeast, where a pollution reduction program is already in place, consumers are expected to save $1.3 billion on their energy bills due to energy efficiency investments.
While we are coming down hard on the NRCC for getting their ad wrong, they should know that it is not too late to repent (or "come clean" - pun intended). While President Obama doesn't need the cooperation of Congress to implement his plan, we could see even better, faster progress if we all worked together on solving this serious problem. Whenever the NRCC changes its mind, we'll be ready to work together. We promise - we will forgive you.