The fight against climate change never takes a holiday, but before we ring in the New Year let's reflect. 2014 has given us a lot to be merry about, but also shown where there's room for resolutions. We've kept a close eye on who has championed the environment and action on climate and who's been a real Scrooge -- we've made the list and checked it twice. In no particular order, here's who comes up as naughty and who comes up as nice:
The Naughty List
1. The Fossil Fuel Industry. Recently, the polluters have set a new low. The American Energy Alliance, a group linked to the Koch brothers, has conflated EPA regulations with CIA torture in a cartoon that ridiculously claims, "At least the CIA isn't torturing Americans." Rodger Bezdek with energy industry trade group claimed, "CO2 is basically plant food, and the more CO2 in the environment the better plants do."
2. Mitch McConnell. The man slated to become Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate in 2015 has set his first agenda item: another vote on the dangerous Keystone XL oil pipeline. Not only is McConnell pushing for the dirty tar sands pipeline, he has previously promised to use the appropriations process to "go after" the EPA.
3. The Dirty Dozen. Anti-environment candidates abounded in 2014 - the Koch Brothers' network reportedly planned to spend $290 million by Election Day. While LCV successfully defeated seven members of the Dirty Dozen this cycle, there is still a lot of work to be done to fight back against the anti-environment stances of many in Congress.
4. Climate Change Deniers. Many of the incoming members of the Senate have already made statements denying the science of climate change. And, unfortunately, these new members of Congress are not alone. Senator Jim Inhofe, a known climate change denier, will likely become the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the committee that oversees the EPA and almost all environmental legislation and existing statutes.
The Nice List
1. The EPA. At the center of the President's Climate Action Plan is the EPA's game-changing proposal to limit the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can spew into the air -- the largest step our country has taken towards combating climate change. The EPA has also taken other important steps to improve public health, including updating the clean air standard for ground-level ozone pollution, and proposing a new Clean Water Rule to protect waterways that impact the drinking water of 117 million Americans from polluters and repeated congressional attacks.
2. Congressional Climate Champions. Our champions in Congress are calling for major action on climate change. In 2014, more than 100 Members of Congress called for action on climate change with groups like: Senate Climate Action Task Force, the Bicameral Task Force, the Safe Climate Caucus, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). Additionally, 30 Senators stayed up all night to call for climate action during #Up4Climate and both the Senate and House came together to "Sound the Alarm" for action on climate. If that wasn't enough to earn our champions full stockings, many members submitted comments in support of the EPA's proposal to cut carbon pollution and a variety of others testified in the public hearings throughout the country.
3. Members of LCV's Environmental Facebook. Twenty newly elected members of Congress will join the call for climate change action in January. Members of LCV's 2014 Environmental Facebook are committed to taking action on climate change, promoting clean energy, and protecting our lands and wildlife.
4. The Obama Administration. This year, the U.S. advanced the fight against climate change with a whole host of meaningful actions. President Obama committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help protect vulnerable communities around the world from the impacts of climate disruption. After hard work by Secretary Kerry and the State Department, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping came to a historic agreement to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and expanding the clean energy economy. The President also used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect a number of important places in the U.S. as national monuments: the San Gabriel Mountains in California, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico, and the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
In 2015 LCV will continue to call out the naughty and the nice. Our only challenge is that the naughty list would love nothing more than to get a lump of coal for Christmas!