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Congress Should Listen to People, Not Polluters

08 Jul 2015  |   Adam Wilson

Tags: Congress

Since President Obama introduced his Climate Action Plan in 2013, he’s met resistance from big polluters and their allies in Congress.  The Clean Power Plan, Clean Water Rule, and the ultimate rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline are critical to protecting clean air and water for generations to come.  However, congressional opponents are using every tool they can to try to undermine this progress.  And while some in Congress are beholden to polluter interests, the American people are not.  Fossil fuel industry-backed legislators may be listening to polluters who back them, but they will also have to answer to voters in 2016.

The Clean Power Plan

June of last year, President Obama and the EPA issued the Clean Power Plan, a defining moment in the fight against climate change.  The Clean Power Plan holds polluters accountable and places the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants.  By 2030, the plan will have cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels, while giving states maximum flexibility in how they meet these carbon targets.  While the president and the EPA were ready to move forward and tackle climate change, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged states to ignore federal guidelines and block implementation of the president’s proposal.  Many states, including Senator McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, have rejected the senator’s attempts to undercut the Clean Power Plan.  Denying the reality of climate change and opposing solutions shows how out of touch McConnell is with what the public wants and the actions states are already taking to advance clean energy solutions. 

The Clean Water Rule

Americans care about protecting our waterways from pollution, and providing safe, clean drinking water to everyone.  For this reason, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released the Clean Water Rule to restore protections to the drinking water of one in three Americans. Despite overwhelming support from 80% of voters, the rule has been met with attacks from big polluters and their congressional allies.  Industry-backed legislators have pushed erroneously named bills like the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” which actually attempt to block and undermine clean water protections.  Recent polling found that 69% of voters said they will view their Senator less favorably if they vote to stop this critical rule.  The American people are sending a clear message to our elected officials that they should stand up for clean water in Congress, not the interests of polluters.

The Keystone XL Pipeline 

In February, for only the second time in its history, LCV released a Special Edition Scorecard that detailed 19 critical votes taken during the Senate’s consideration of legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. This Scorecard made clear which senators doubled down on dirty energy at the expense of our environment, and which senators looked to build a clean energy future.  Then, in March, Congress tried again to override President Obama’s veto of this legislation approving the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile, polling shows that 63% of Americans, including 67% of independents, wanted Congress to accept the Obama administration’s decision on the pipeline and move on to other critical issues facing the nation. It seems the current leaders of Congress are intent on wasting time trying to score political points with the fossil fuel industry, even when the American people are ready to move on.

Representatives who consistently fight for polluters and special interests risk losing the support of a large portion of voters.  It’s in the American people’s best interest, and Congress’, for politicians to listen to voters and stop opposing critical actions the administration is taking to protect our air, water and climate. We want our representatives to stand up to big polluters, not work for them. 

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