Here's a short quiz to see how well you've been paying attention to the 2016 presidential campaign.
Q: Which presidential candidate makes this statement in a new book? "I'm a crunchy conservative and a tree hugger and proud of it."
- Is it Hillary Clinton, who earned an 82-percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, prioritized climate change as Secretary of State, and ranked climate change as a top challenge our country is facing?
- Is it Bernie Sanders, who earned a 95-percent lifetime LCV score and has sponsored legislation to address climate change?
- Is it Rand Paul, who earned a 9-percent lifetime LCV score and a 100-percent WhoVotesDirty score and has been a champion of the Big Polluter agenda in congress?
If you guessed Rand Paul, then you're right, but I'm super-confused. Why in the world would you guess that Rand Paul is the conservationist in this campaign? Rand Paul is a climate denier and one of the most consistent voices of and voters for the Big Polluter agenda in Congress.
In calling himself a conservationist, Paul cited the fact that he composts and believes in clean air and clean water. Paul notes that he has planted giant sequoias in his yard and repurposed old trees once used for a fort to build compost bins. I'm thrilled he does those things, but it's going to take a lot more than a few trees and some backyard mulch to offset all Paul has done to harm the planet.
A few highlights of Paul's leadership and voting record:
- In November 2011 Paul led the effort in the Senate to void the EPA's cross-state air-pollution rule, which will reduce smog and soot pollution from dirty coal-burning power plants that travels across state lines. If Paul's effort had succeeded, the rule's projected benefits -- preventing up to 34,000 premature deaths; 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks; and 400,000 cases of asthma attacks every year -- would never have been realized.
- Paul was the Senate sponsor of a bill nicknamed the REINS Act, which would have turned the current regulatory process upside-down by allowing a majority in any single chamber of Congress to stop a regulation it did not like.
- Paul's "Platform to Revitalize America" proposed selling off our national parks, eliminating the Department of Energy and sun-setting all regulations of every kind.
- In 2012 Paul voted for a Senate resolution to block long-overdue reductions in mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. The standards would prevent 11,000 premature deaths; nearly 5,000 heart attacks; 130,000 asthma attacks; 5,700 hospital and emergency-room visits; and 540,000 days when people miss work and school each year.
- Just last month Paul sponsored legislation that would effectively repeal the Clean Water Act.
Does that look like a conservationist's record to you?
Republicans and the Big Polluter Agenda
Paul doesn't just talk about his own record; he talks about his party's record too. He says, "It boggles my mind to think that somehow Republicans have been branded as a party that doesn't like the environment." Hmm, how in the world did they get that reputation?
Could it have something to do with the fact that:
- In the first four years that John Boehner and his Republican party controlled the House, the House voted against the environment more than 500 times?
- In giving the Keystone XL pipeline legislation the bill number of 1, the Senate, which was led by Republicans this January for the first time since 2007, indicated that the Big Polluter agenda was its top priority?
- Every dirty vote in the WhoVotesDirty.com database was sponsored by a Republican?
Rand's Topsy-Turvy Label
If Rand Paul's a tree hugger, what absurd labels will come next? Is Phillip Morris now an anti-cancer advocate? Is Ronald McDonald an anti-obesity crusader? Does Mr. Peanut have a nut allergy?
It's time to stop the charade. Paul knows that the Big Polluter agenda is out of step with American values. No amount of Paul's backyard compost is going to cover up the manure he's shoveling when he calls himself a tree hugger.