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Evlondo Cooper

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  • Here's what you need to know about the National Black Chamber of Commerce

    EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to announce major environmental rollback alongside fossil-fuel-funded front group

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER

    On Thursday, the Trump administration is expected to announce a regulatory rollback that will make it easier to build new coal-fired plants by eliminating Obama-era rules requiring such plants to include carbon-capture technology. Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is scheduled to make the announcement alongside Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), a minority business front group that has received funding from fossil fuel interests and other corporate sources, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

    Alford and the organization he runs have long teamed up with conservatives and business interests to fight regulations that would protect and clean up the environment. A 2017 Bloomberg investigation described the NBCC as “a shoestring operation, run by a husband-and-wife team." But despite its small size, the group provides outsized value to corporations and industry groups. The NBCC has been criticized by a number of prominent environmental justice leaders and organizations, including Green For All, GreenLatinos, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

    Here's a quick overview of NBCC activity on behalf of polluters.

    NBCC campaigned against the Clean Power Plan

    The Clean Power Plan, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, aimed to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants, part of a larger effort to fight climate change. According to Obama's EPA, it also would have improved public health by cutting air pollution. Civil rights leaders, environmental justice groups, and environmental activists successfully pushed the agency to make sure the rule addressed many of the environmental and economic concerns of minority and low-income communities.

    But the NBCC opposed the Clean Power Plan while claiming to be speaking on behalf of African-Americans. The group commissioned and promoted a flawed study that falsely claimed the plan would disproportionately harm minorities. The study was swiftly debunked. And yet Alford became a central figure in a disinformation campaign backed by fossil-fuel interests. He placed anti-Clean Power Plan op-eds in at least seven newspapers and saw right-wing outlets echo and amplify his discredited assertions.

    NBCC's debunked study found new life in the Trump administration. When the EPA, under Wheeler's leadership, proposed to replace the Clean Power Plan with a weaker substitute, the White House cited the NBCC study in its talking points. 

    NBCC took part in a deceptive campaign against solar energy

    In 2016, the NBCC was part of Consumers for Smart Solar, a utility-backed and Koch-backed astroturf group that campaigned on behalf of a deceptive ballot initiative in Florida. The initiative was designed to appear pro-solar, but it actually would have slowed the growth of rooftop solar while protecting the utilities from competition. Voters ended up rejecting the measure. 

    Alford fought EPA’s rule to limit smog pollution

    After the EPA moved in 2015 to impose limits on ozone, a component of smog, Alford went on a speaking tour to convince minority audiences that the EPA’s rules would harm them economically, echoing a message broadcast by the NBCC’s corporate donors. When confronted with evidence that smog disproportionately hurts minority and low-income communities, Alford said it was a “farce.”

    NBCC backed a climate denier's effort to discredit carbon pricing

    Earlier this year, NBCC joined right-wing organizations supporting an anti-carbon tax resolution proposed by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), a climate denier. Alford signed a letter supporting the resolution, listing his name alongside far-right figures like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Alford: "Coal is essential to our way of living"

    Alford is on the board of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, also known as Energy Fairness, a self-described “coalition of working people, business owners, environmentalists, and trade organizations who are fighting for fair, responsible energy policies.” In actuality, the group and a partner organization, Working People for Fair Energy, have been closely aligned with utility companies fighting coal-ash regulation, according to a 2010 investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies.

    In October 2016, Alford went on a tour of coal mines in Alabama that was sponsored by the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy. In a blog post about the tour that he published on PACE’s website, Alford wrote, “Coal is essential to our way of living. If some politicians and activists think they can ‘kill coal’ they are terribly mistaken.”

    Alford and Wheeler are two of a kind

    Alford and the NBCC have consistently worked against the interests of minority communities and working families to advance a pro-fossil fuel agenda. Like Wheeler did when he was a lobbyist, Alford has cashed oil, gas, and coal company checks for years. So it is fitting that they will be standing together to announce the Trump administration's latest assault on our environment and climate.

  • CNN keeps letting guests and paid commentators lie about climate scientists

    It's not true that scientists do climate research to get rich, and CNN knows it

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS & EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    This post was updated on November 28.

    CNN has let at least three commentators argue this week that scientists are warning the public about climate change because they're getting rich by doing so -- a ridiculous and patently false claim. CNN knows it's ridiculous and false because the network ran a fact-checking segment debunking the claim and interviewed a climate scientist who explained why it's wrong. But even that didn't stop the network from continuing to spread the lie.

    To make matters worse, the three people who made this lie on CNN -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and Trump-boosting economist Stephen Moore -- have themselves been the beneficiaries of fossil fuel money, but CNN failed to disclose that information.

    CNN lets liars lie

    Following the release of the National Climate Assessment, a major government report about the dangers that climate change poses to the U.S., CNN contributor Santorum came on State of the Union on Sunday morning to discuss it. Among other idiotic things, he said:

    I think the point that Donald Trump makes is true, which is -- look, if there was no climate change, we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive, and of course they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they're not allowed to because it's tainted. But they can receive it from people who support their agenda, and that, I believe, is what's really going on here.

    Santorum's comments about climate scientists doing it for the money were widely mocked on Twitter. But that didn't stop other conservative commentators from repeating the bogus claim during CNN appearances.

    DeLay, who resigned as House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, made similar comments on CNN Right Now on Monday: 

    The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.

    Moore, a right-wing economist with a record of being wrong, echoed those points later on Monday on Erin Burnett Outfront:

    We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

    CNN does fact-checking, confirms that the lie is a lie

    On Tuesday morning, CNN's John Avlon played clips of what Santorum and DeLay said and then proceeded to debunk their claims in a "Reality Check" segment:

    JOHN AVLON (POLITICAL ANALYST): Now that talking point you're hearing is a classic bit of distraction and deflection designed to muddy the waters just enough to confuse the clear consensus. In fact, one of the scientists who worked on the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, confirms that she and her colleagues were paid, quote, “zero dollars” for their work and could easily make ten times their salaries by working for something like Big Oil. So it turns out that this idea that climate change scientists are rolling in the dough Scrooge McDuck-style is so pervasive that it had to have its own Yale study debunking it.

    The Yale study that he referred to is a guide by the Yale Climate Communications group that lists arguments refuting the "persistent myth" that scientists are in it for the money.

    CNN then hosted the climate scientist Avlon cited, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who laughed at the claim that she and her colleagues are paid to advance an agenda and explained why it's incorrect:

    KATHARINE HAYHOE (ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST): I got paid zero dollars to write this report. My salary would have been exactly the same if I had or hadn't. And if I were studying astrophysics like I used to, I'd probably get exactly the same salary as well. The reality is that I’ve found people often accuse us of doing what they would often do themselves in our position. If we just cast our eye down the richest corporations in the world on Wikipedia's list, the vast majority of those owe their wealth to fossil fuels, so therefore they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as long as possible.

    CNN invites liar back on to repeat lie

    But even after CNN debunked the lie with its own programming, the network invited Moore back on to double down and repeat the discredited claim. During At This Hour With Kate Bolduan on Tuesday, host Bolduan played Moore a clip of Hayhoe's comments and let him respond:

    MOORE: She runs the climate change center at the school in Texas. What keeps those centers alive is the climate change industry. My only point is that the government in the United States and around the world has spent billions and billions of dollars on climate change. It has become an industry. That does call into question some of the partiality of this research. But the bigger point is --

    BOLDUAN: You still don't think she is just motivated by science?

    MOORE: She may be. I'm not calling out any single person. I'm just saying that the industry is very, very well funded. It’s in the billions of dollars. People have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.

    CNN invited Moore back on for yet another appearance on Tuesday, again on Erin Burnett OutFront, in which he continued to repeat specious right-wing talking points about the National Climate Assessment.

    And Santorum also got another chance to repeat the lie about climate scientists being motivated by money. During an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° on Tuesday night, Santorum said:

    I said this the other day and I've gotten a -- I've become a very popular man on Twitter in the last couple of days for the comment I made about scientists making money. There would be no chair of the head of climate studies at every university in America if we didn’t have a crisis. These people make money because there's a crisis.

    Santorum's appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° was all the more egregious because Cooper interviewed climate scientist Hayhoe for the episode, and even teased the interview during the show, but ultimately didn't air it. Hayhoe revealed this fact in a tweet, part of a longer thread about the experience:

    CNN did end up posting the interview with Hayhoe on its website. In it, Hayhoe said:

    HAYHOE: What I do take personally is when we are accused of being in it for the money. I got paid zero dollars to write this report, and honestly, I could have spent those hundreds of hours elsewhere. We don't do this for the money. We do it because we're physicians of the planet. We understand that our planet is running a fever. The impacts are serious and will become dangerous, and we have to act now, not for the good of the planet but for the good of every single human who lives on it.

    COOPER: I mean, that is something the president has said in the past, that this is a hoax, and that there are people who've said on our air that this is a money-making scheme essentially, this is a money-making venture.

    HAYHOE: I would ask them where are they getting their money from.

    Great points from Hayhoe. Too bad they didn't make it on the air.

    CNN fails to disclose that liars have received fossil fuel money

    While CNN lets its commentators falsely accuse scientists of being motivated by graft, the network has failed to disclose that those very commentators have financial motivations of their own: All three have gotten money from fossil fuel interests that oppose climate action.

    Santorum received $763,331 in contributions from the oil and gas industry during his time in the Senate from 1995 to 2007. His long career of shilling on behalf of fossil fuel interests paid off after he left Congress and started doing lucrative work as a consultant, including earning $142,500 in 2010 and the first half of 2011 from Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania coal and gas company. Santorum is also currently the co-chair of biofuels advocacy group Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. Anderson Cooper disclosed that Santorum is paid by the biofuels group before his discussion with Santorum, but did not note the fossil fuel money Santorum has raked in over the years.

    DeLay received $739,677 in contributions from the oil and gas industry from 1985 to 2008, and gave enormous handouts to the industry during his time in office.

    For his part, Moore has worked for many fossil fuel-backed advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Donors Capital Fund. He was also chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been funded by ExxonMobil and the Kochs. And just last last month, Moore gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. 

    At the very least, CNN should disclose its commentators' conflicts of interest. Better, of course, would be not to give them a platform from which to spew their nonsense. But CNN is more dedicated to showy fireworks and conflict than to the truth.

  • Sunday shows finally talk about climate change (but that doesn’t mean the coverage was good)

    After bombshell climate report, Sunday political talk shows bring on climate deniers

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Trump administration tried to bury a major government report on climate change by releasing it on the day after Thanksgiving, but the bombshell report still received substantial media attention, including coverage on all five of the major Sunday morning political talk shows.

    The latest National Climate Assessment report -- a 1,600-page, congressionally mandated document produced by some 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies -- paints a dire picture of how climate change is already affecting the U.S. and how its catastrophic impacts will intensify in coming years. The report was expected to be released in early December, but three knowledgeable sources told The New York Times' Coral Davenport that "administration officials hoped to minimize the impact by making the assessment public on the afternoon of Black Friday, the big shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking that Americans might be unlikely to be paying attention."

    But by publishing the report during a slow news period, the Trump team might have inadvertently caused it to get more media attention than it otherwise would have.

    Yesterday was the first time this year that the five major Sunday shows discussed climate change on the same day. ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press all included segments on the new report.

    That's more than the number of Sunday shows that covered another major climate report released in early October by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Only three of the Sunday shows -- This Week, Face the Nation, and State of the Union -- covered that IPCC report.

    Though the Sunday shows covered the new climate report, much of the coverage was poor

    Even though the five big Sunday shows covered the new National Climate Assessment, the quality of the coverage in many cases was downright poor. Some of the hosts invited climate deniers to discuss the report, failed to question them about their denial, and allowed guests to spout denialist talking points with little to no pushback, while other hosts spent only a little time on the report.

    The panel that NBC's Chuck Todd invited to discuss the climate report on NBC's Meet the Press included Danielle Pletka of the Koch-backed American Enterprise Institute, who asserted easily debunked nonsense about the last two years being the coldest in recent history. Todd also asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) about the report during an interview, without noting that Lee has questioned basic climate science.

    CNN's State of the Union hosted two climate deniers to discuss the National Climate Assessment: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and former senator and CNN contributor Rick Santorum. In response to host Dana Bash’s question about how climate change could harm agriculture in Iowa, Ernst engaged in lukewarm climate denial, stating, "We know that our climate is changing. Our climate always changes, and we see those ebb and flows through time." Meanwhile, Santorum praised the Trump administration’s attempt to bury the report and claimed that the scientists who produced it were “driven by money,” an assertion that was widely derided on social media.

    On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) to discuss the climate report’s findings. Sasse decried climate "alarmism," easily dodged Wallace's questions, and pivoted to arguing for further environmental deregulation.

    George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week addressed the report during an interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), but only spent about two minutes on it.

    Margaret Brennan of CBS' Face the Nation questioned NASA's Steven Clarke about the report, but the exchange about climate change was brief and came in the midst of a discussion about NASA's Mars probe. Still, it marked the first time in nearly three years that any of the broadcast Sunday shows included a scientist in a discussion about climate change; the last time a scientist appeared in a broadcast Sunday show climate segment was the December 13, 2015, episode of Face the Nation. Brennan also discussed the climate report with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    The fact that most Sunday show hosts only briefly discussed the National Climate Assessment’s urgent findings -- rather than giving them more in-depth coverage with a panel of experts -- is right in line with trends Media Matters has documented in recent years. In the rare instances when Sunday shows address climate change, it is usually within a narrow political framework and includes a similarly narrow range of politicians and political pundits.

    The attempt by the Trump team to bury the report and keep information about climate change out of the public eye is also in line with observed trends. The White House has systematically removed climate change information from federal government websites, especially the site of the Environmental Protection Agency, and EPA officials last year told members of a scientific advisory committee that climate change would be de-emphasized by the administration.

  • Only 29 percent of key debates in 2018 included a question about climate change

    But the percentage rose notably after release of a dramatic climate report from the U.N. IPCC

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS & EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Climate change should have been a topic in every election debate this year. The U.S. was pummeled by extreme weather in 2018, and climate scientists are telling us that climate change is the big reason why. Voters deserved to know what, if anything, candidates propose to do about the problem.

    But climate change got short shrift in most key Senate and gubernatorial debates this election season. Out of 78 debates Media Matters analyzed in tightly contested races, only 23 included a moderator or panelist asking a question about climate change -- just 29 percent. (For details, see our scorecard.)


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    That percentage is up a little from 2016 -- when only 22 percent of debates in key competitive races included a question about climate change -- but it's still far too low.

    Yet we did spot a few encouraging trends.

    After October 7, when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a major report about the urgent need to address the climate crisis, many more moderators and panelists asked about climate change. Only 7 percent of debates (2 of 27) included a climate question before the release of the IPCC report. After the report came out, 43 percent (21 of 49) included a climate question -- a marked improvement. Nearly half of those questions directly referenced the report.

    The journalists serving as moderators and panelists clearly recognized the importance of the IPCC's warning and became more attuned to the urgency of the climate crisis. We hope this attention to climate change will carry forward and inform their reporting in the future.

    We also found that many voters pushed for climate questions to be included in debates, in red and purple states as well as blue ones. At the first Indiana Senate debate on October 10, moderator Anne Ryder, a senior lecturer at Indiana University's Media School, brought up the topic of climate change and said, "I’ll tell you, we’ve received more questions on this than any other topic." In the next debate in the race, a few weeks later, moderator Amna Nawaz of PBS NewsHour told the candidates that several voters had not been satisfied with the answers they gave previously and asked them to detail specifically what they would do to combat climate change.

    In a Colorado gubernatorial debate on October 23, moderator Nic Garcia, a political reporter for The Denver Post, introduced a question about climate change by saying, "When we asked readers and viewers for questions, overwhelmingly this was the No. 1 topic on their mind." And at an Arizona Senate debate and a Wisconsin gubernatorial debate, moderators asked climate questions that had been submitted by members of the public.

    Ahead of an October 21 Florida gubernatorial debate, citizen activists announced that they were going to press moderator Jake Tapper of CNN to ask a question about climate change. But Tapper caught wind of their plans and tweeted that there was no need; he already knew that climate change was a notable topic. He then made it the subject of his first question at the debate.

    Rep. Jared Polis, Democratic candidate for governor in Colorado, said that voters asked him about climate change more than reporters did. "Climate change and environment are a lot more on the minds of people that I meet, and I've had over 300 meet-and-greets in all parts of the state," he said during an interview on November 1.

    When moderators did ask climate questions during debates, the candidates often revealed dramatically different views on the issue -- important information for voters to know.

    During the October 16 Texas Senate debate, for example moderator Jason Whitely, a reporter at WFAA-TV in Dallas, asked Republican Sen. Ted Cruz about his history of climate change denial. Cruz responded by saying, “The climate has been changing from the dawn of time. The climate will change as long as we have a planet Earth.” Whitely pushed Cruz to clarify his views on climate change, but Cruz again dodged the question. When his turn came, the Democrat in the race, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said, “Look, the climate is changing, and man-made climate change is a fact. Three hundred years after the Enlightenment, we should be able to listen to the scientists and follow their advice and guidance. And they tell us that we still have time, but the window is closing to get this right."

    At the Arizona Senate debate on October 15, moderator Maria Polletta, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, asked Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rep. Martha McSally about climate change. Sinema responded by explaining that she wants to work on water issues and said, "I firmly believe that as Arizonans, as Americans, we have the resources, we have the tools, we have the skills, and we have the knowledge. We can address issues of climate change together, and do so without harming our business prospects and without harming what makes Arizona so amazing." McSally, in contrast, was scornful of the topic. "I can’t believe this is the last question," she said before changing the subject.

    With the 2018 election season coming to a close, we need journalists to further ramp up the focus on climate change. As new governors and members of Congress take their seats, they will have to make critical decisions about a rapidly changing electricity system, transportation networks, agriculture and land-use practices, and ways to make our communities more resilient in the face of disasters. Reporters should ask elected officials how climate change will factor into those decisions. And when the 2020 campaign season gets rolling, journalists and media outlets will have a crucial role to play in making sure that climate change is discussed in races from the local level all the way up to the presidency. As the recent IPCC report warned us, there's no more time to waste.

  • Big Oil is spending massive amounts on Facebook and TV ads to kill a climate ballot measure in Washington state

    The No on 1631 campaign is running 71 different ads on Facebook and blanketing the airwaves with TV commercials

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Washington could become the first state in the nation to place a fee on carbon emissions from polluters. Voters will decide next week on Initiative 1631, a ballot measure that would have the state collect money from the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and use it to fund a variety of environmental and clean energy programs. In response, major oil companies and industry-funded think tanks have launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to blanket the internet and airwaves with distortions and misinformation intended to erode support for I-1631.

    After a carbon tax bill failed to pass the state legislature earlier this year, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy assembled possibly one of the broadest and most diverse coalitions ever to get a carbon fee on the November ballot, including more than 200 clean energy and environmental groups, labor unions, community-of-color groups, tribal nations, and others. The diversity of this coalition is no veneer. Unlike previous attempts to pass a carbon price in Washington, I-1631 was developed around the principles of environmental justice, community health, and public oversight, and grassroots organizing was pivotal to getting it on the ballot.

    The coalition’s initiative would impose a carbon fee on major polluters that would start at $15 per metric ton in 2020 and gradually increase over time. The fees collected, which are projected to amount to $1 billion in the first year and $2.3 billion over five years, would be used to implement clean energy and efficiency projects, assist low-income communities’ transition to a clean energy economy, reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, and increase awareness of climate change and its impacts, among other programs.

    Despite the failure of carbon tax Initiative 732 in November 2016, a poll taken after its defeat found that 67 percent of voters supported I-732 or “a better measure” to address climate change. As support for a new and improved ballot initiative began coalescing this spring, the oil industry was watching -- secure in having stopped federal action on carbon pricing, but afraid of the domino effect if states like Washington start implementing their own climate policies.  

    The No on 1631 astroturf campaign ramps up

    The industry-backed campaign to stop I-1631 commenced modestly at first, with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) forming the No on 1631 political action committee (PAC) in April. WSPA is a trade association that works on behalf of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. The No on 1631 PAC initially received five-figure donations from BP, Chevron, Phillips 66, Shell, Andeavor, and U.S. Oil & Refining Company. Then far greater sums poured in throughout the summer and fall. As of November 2, No on 1631 had received more than $31.5 million, almost all of which came from out-of-state oil companies. The PAC’s top 10 funders are:

    1. BP America:  $12,896,031
    2. Phillips 66:  $7,201,187
    3. Andeavor:  $4,362,827
    4. Andeavor LLC (Marathon Petroleum Corp.):  $1,700,000
    5. American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers:  $1,250,000
    6. Valero Energy Corporation:  $995,000
    7. Koch Industries, Inc.:  $950,000
    8. U.S. Oil & Refining Company:  $558,531
    9. Chevron U.S.A., Inc.:  $500,000
    10. PBF Energy, Inc.:  $400,000

    The competing PAC that is supporting I-1631 has only raised about half as much -- $15.6 million -- and its money has come from a wider variety of sources, including environmental groups and individuals in Washington state, like Bill Gates, as well as from out of state, like Michael Bloomberg.

    Unprecedented spending fuels advertising blitz

    The unprecedented tens of millions of dollars Big Oil has poured into the "no" campaign have allowed it to blanket social media and local television airwaves with anti-1631 propaganda.

    Over just the two-week period from October 16 to October 29, the No on 1631 PAC spent more than $1.1 million on digital advertising. Most of this money seems to have been gone to Facebook advertising. As of November 1, No on 1631 was running 71 Facebook ads, which have garnered millions of impressions. Most of the ads feature the No on 1631 logo with a single, misleading talking point and a link to the PAC’s website. To implement its online media strategy, No on 1631 retained the agency BASK Digital Media, which has worked for a number of other conservative groups and campaigns this year, and marketing and advertising firm Target Enterprises, which has also done millions of dollars of work for Republican candidates and conservative groups this election cycle.

    No on 1631 is spending big on TV ads too. During the two-week period from October 16 to October 29, it paid Target Enterprises about $6.2 million for broadcast and cable/satellite advertising. Its ads have run on at least 20 television stations throughout the state. And it has spent $2.1 million on direct mail during the same period.

    The No on 1631 PAC has also run a letter-to-the-editor campaign and helped place anti-1631 op-eds in newspapers across the state. Some anti-1631 op-eds have been written by Todd Myers, a longtime industry shill who is currently the director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center, a Koch-funded conservative group. As one of the most vocal opponents of I-1631, Myers has given multiple media interviews, been cited in other anti-1631 pieces, and debated environmental advocates over the initiative.  

    A number of other right-wing groups, some of them funded by or linked to the Koch brothers' network, are also fighting against the initiative, either as part of the main "no" campaign or independently, including the Association of Washington Business and the National Federation of Independent Business.

    Potentially millions exposed to Big Oil’s distortion campaign

    Hundreds of thousands or even millions of people may have viewed the "no" campaign's TV and Facebook ads, which range from disingenuous to outright dishonest. Many of the talking points in these ads come from a Washington Policy Center report that has also been promoted by the Association of Washington Business and other groups opposed to I-1631.

    One such ad features small-business owner Sabrina Jones, who tells viewers that I-1631 “exempts many of the state’s largest polluters.” A fact check by KING 5 News found the ad failed to mention that the TransAlta coal plant, the primary exempted facility, is already scheduled to close permanently in 2025, thanks to a deal previously reached with the state government. As The Atlantic reported, additional regulation of the plant would delay its closure date.

    In No on 1631’s most-aired commercial, former state Attorney General Rob McKenna blasts the initiative while failing to disclose that his law firm represents Chevron, a major funder of the "no" campaign. McKenna misleads viewers about I-1631’s expected impacts on residents, citing a state government report that projects $2.3 billion in fees will be collected from polluters over five years and misrepresenting that figure as meaning Washington residents will pay $2.3 billion in higher costs -- a vastly overstated claim, even if polluters try to pass along all of their costs to the public.

    Most recently, the No on 1631 campaign has been aiming disinformation directly at the Latino community. According to Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, “No on 1631 sent out a mailed advertisement to Spanish speakers across Washington state. It contained a list of Latino businesses who were opposed to the carbon fee, who were in favor of No on 1631. Most of those businesses had no idea their names were on that list.” Some of those businesses expressed anger after finding out about the mailer, according to an environmental justice activist.

    Will voters be swayed by Big Oil's propaganda?

    The oil industry's donations and the "no" media campaign have both ramped up in recent weeks, likely spurred at least in part by an early October poll that found 50 percent of voters supported I-1631, while 36 percent opposed it and 14 percent were undecided. Big Oil is desperate to stop Washington from becoming an example of successful, grassroots climate action.

  • Scorecard: Only 29 percent of key Senate and gubernatorial debates featured a question about climate change

    Moderators and panelists asked candidates about the climate crisis in just 23 of 78 debates Media Matters analyzed

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    This page was updated on November 6, 2018, after the completion of all debates.

    Out of 78 key Senate and gubernatorial debates this year, only 23 featured a question about climate change, or 29 percent. Media Matters analyzed debates in close Senate and gubernatorial races to determine whether a moderator or panelist asked the candidates a climate question.

    This year's percentage was a modest improvement over 2016, when only 22 percent of key debates we analyzed included a moderator's or panelist's question about climate change.

    The percentage of debates this year that included a climate question went up dramatically after October 7, when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire report explaining the extreme urgency of fighting climate change. In debates before the report came out, only 7 percent included a climate question. In debates after the report was released, 43 percent included at least one question about climate change from a moderator or panelist. For more analysis, see this post.

    For debates that featured a climate question, we have included video clips of the questions and answers below (and in some cases, links to transcripts). For all debates, we have listed the moderators, panelists, and sponsoring organizations, and posted links to full debate video or audio.

    We focused on competitive races -- those ranked by the Cook Political Report as being a "toss-up" or "lean R" or "lean D" as of September 19. Here are the races in which we tracked debates:

    Alaska governor Kansas governor North Dakota senator
    Arizona senator Maine governor Ohio governor
    Colorado governor Michigan governor Ohio senator
    Connecticut governor Minnesota governor Oregon governor
    Florida governor Minnesota senator Rhode Island governor
    Florida senator Missouri senator Tennessee senator
    Georgia governor Nevada governor Texas senator
    Illinois governor Nevada senator West Virginia senator
    Indiana senator New Mexico governor Wisconsin governor
    Iowa governor

     

    Alaska

    Climate threats: Alaska is at risk from extreme heat, coastal flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bill Walker (independent) -- incumbent -- (withdrew from race on October 19)
    Mike Dunleavy (R)
    Mark Begich (D)
    Billy Toien (Libertarian)

    debates:

    Date: September 5
    Hosted by: Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce, KINY-AM
    Moderator: Pete Carran (KINY-AM host)
    Audio: KINY-AMY
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 10
    Hosted by: Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Tim Thompson (Alaska Airlines spokesman)
    Video and partial transcript: Anchorage Daily News
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Alaska Airmen Association
    Moderators: Corey Hester (Alaska Airmen Association executive director), Adam White (Alaska Airmen Association government and legislative affairs director)
    Video: Anchorage Daily News
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 15
    Hosted by: Union of Students of the University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage Daily News, University of Alaska Anchorage Economics Club, Atwood Foundation, Seawolf Debate Program
    Moderator: Steve Johnson (Seawolf Debate Program director)
    VideoAnchorage Daily News' Facebook page
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted: Alaska Public Media, KTUU
    Moderated by: Lori Townsend (Alaska Public Radio Network news director), Mike Ross (KTUU anchor)
    Panelists: Andrew Kitchenman (KTOO reporter), Richard Mauer (KTUU reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Ross noted that climate change is driving Arctic warming before asking the candidates how they would balance Alaska's reliance on fossil fuels with the need to reduce carbon emissions. Panelist Mauer followed up by pressing the candidates further on how they would address climate change. Watch the video:

    Arizona

    Climate threats: Arizona is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Martha McSally (R)
    Kyrsten Sinema (D)

    debate:

    Date: October 15
    Hosted byThe Arizona Republic and Arizona PBS
    Moderators: Maria Polletta (Arizona Republic reporter), Ted Simons (Arizona PBS host)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Polletta asked McSally and Sinema whether they believe climate change is a human-caused problem and how they plan to combat it. See the transcript and video:

    Colorado

    Climate threats: Colorado is at risk from drought and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Walker Stapleton (R)
    Jared Polis (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 5
    Hosted by: Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Denver Business Journal
    Moderator : Ed Sealover (Denver Business Journal reporter)
    Video9NEWS.com
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 5
    Hosted by: Colorado Public Television, CBS Denver, KOA Newsradio, The Colorado Sun
    Moderator: Shaun Boyd (CBS Denver political specialist)
    Panelists: Dominic Dezzutti (Colorado Public Television vice president of content), Marty Lenz (KOA Newsradio host), John Frank (The Colorado Sun reporter)
    VideoCBS Denver’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 6
    Hosted by: Rocky Mountain PBS, Colorado Mesa University, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
    Moderator: John Ferrugia (Rocky Mountain PBS managing editor)
    Panelists: Charles Ashby (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter), Dennis Herzog (Colorado Mesa University adjunct lecturer)
    VideoRocky Mountain PBS’ YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 8
    Hosted byThe Pueblo Chieftain, 2020 Commission's Governance Task Force, Pueblo Community College's Center for New Media, Colorado State University-Pueblo
    Moderator: Steve Henson (The Pueblo Chieftain editor)
    VideoFOX21News.com
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 13
    Hosted by: KOAA-TV, The Gazette
    Moderator: Rob Quirk (KOAA-TV anchor)
    Panelists: Joey Bunch (Gazette political reporter), Elizabeth Watts (KOAA-TV anchor)
    VideoKOAA’S YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 17
    Hosted by: The Coloradoan, KUSA-TV, Colorado State University
    Moderators: Kyle Clark (KUSA anchor), Marshall Zelinger (KUSA political investigative reporter)
    Video: KUSA’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Clark noted the recent United Nations report on climate change, then asked Stapleton about Colorado’s decision to adopt California’s auto emissions standards and asked Polis about his support for a carbon tax. Watch the video:

    Date: October 23
    Hosted by: The Denver Post, ABC 7, University of Denver’s Center on American Politics
    Moderators: Anne Trujillo (ABC 7 anchor), Nic Garcia (The Denver Post political reporter)
    VideoTheDenverChannel.com
    Climate questions: Moderator Garcia asked the candidates about their plans to address climate change during their first year as governor, noting that climate was "the No. 1 topic" the public wanted to hear about. Moderator Trujillo followed up with a second question about climate change for Stapleton. See the transcript and video:

    Connecticut

    Climate threats: Connecticut is at risk from inland flooding and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bob Stefanowski (R)
    Ned Lamont (D)
    Oz Griebel (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 12
    Hosted by: Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, The Day
    Moderator: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV anchor/reporter)
    Panelists: Paul Choiniere (The Day editorial page editor), Izaskun E. Larrañeta (The Day deputy managing editor), Mark Davis (WTNH-TV chief political correspondent)
    VideoYouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 17
    Hosted by: Connecticut Association of Realtors, WTNH-TV
    Moderator: Michael Barbaro (Connecticut Association of Realtors president)
    Panelists: Mark Davis (WTNH-TV chief political correspondent), Kristi Olds (CTR.tv spokesperson), Russell Blair (The Hartford Courant content editor)
    VideoWTNH-TV YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 26
    Hosted by: WFSB-TV
    Moderator: Dennis House (WFSB anchor)
    Panelists: Emilie Munson (Hearst Media capital reporter), Chris Hanna (Daily Campus editor-in-chief)     
    Video: WFSB.com    
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: Connecticut Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: John Dankosky (WNPR news director)
    Panelists: Jennifer Bernstein (WTIC anchor), Keisha Grant (NBC Connecticut anchor), Dennis House (WFSB anchor), Keith Kountz (WTNH anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Dankosky referenced the United Nations’ recent report on climate change and noted that 60 percent of Connecticut residents want the governor to act on climate change, then asked the candidates what they would do about the problem. Watch the video:

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, WTNH-TV, The Hartford Courant
    Moderator: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV anchor)
    Panelists: Keith Kountz (WTNH-TV anchor), Daniela Altimari (The Hartford Courant correspondent), Joe DeLong (Connecticut Conference of Municipalities executive director)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 5
    Hosted by: WPLR
    Moderators: Chaz & AJ (WPLR hosts)
    VideoWSFB.com
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Florida

    Climate threats: Florida is at risk from extreme heat, inland flooding, and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Ron DeSantis (R)
    Andrew Gillum (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: CNN
    Moderator: Jake Tapper (CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent)
    Video: CNN
    Climate questions: Moderator Tapper asked about climate change in his first question of the debate. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: Leadership Florida, Florida Press Association, Broward College
    Moderator: Todd McDermott (WPBF 25 News anchor)
    Panelists: Isadora Rangel (public affairs and engagement editor at Florida Today), Anthony Man (political writer at the Sun-Sentinel)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Senate candidates:

    Rick Scott (R)
    Bill Nelson (D) -- incumbent

    debate:

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Telemundo
    Moderators: Marilys Llanos (WSCV-TV reporter and presenter), Jackie Nespral (WTVJ-TV anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions

    Georgia

    Climate threats: Georgia is at risk from extreme heat, wildfires, inland flooding, and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Brian Kemp (R)
    Stacey Abrams (D)
    Ted Metz (Libertarian)

    debate:

    Date: October 23
    Hosted by: Atlanta Press Club
    Moderator: Lisa Rayam (Georgia Public Broadcasting capital correspondent)
    Panelists: Greg Bluestein (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter), Elwyn Lopez (WXIA reporter), Frank Malloy (WMAZ anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Illinois

    Climate threats: Illinois is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bruce Rauner (R) -- incumbent
    J.B. Pritzker (D)
    Kash Jackson (Libertarian)
    Sam McCann (Conservative)

    debates:

    Date: September 20
    Hosted by: NBC 5 (WMAQ-TV), Telemundo Chicago, Union League Club of Chicago, Chicago Urban League
    Moderator: Carol Marin (WMAQ-TV political editor)
    Video: YouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 3
    Hosted by: WLS-TV, Univision, League of Women Voters of Illinois Education
    Moderator: Alan Krashesky (WLS-TV anchor/reporter)
    Panelists: Craig Wall (WLS-TV political reporter), Erika Maldonado (Univision Chicago anchor)
    Video: ABC 7’s YouTube channel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 11
    Hosted by: WGEM, Illinois Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: Gene Kennedy (WGEM evening anchor/producer)
    Panelists: Natalie Will (WGEM anchor), Bobby Oler (HOI News), Caitlin Knute (WEEK-TV anchor), James Stratton (WREX anchor), Doug Wilson (Herald-Whig senior writer)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Indiana

    Climate threats: Indiana is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Mike Braun (R)
    Joe Donnelly (D) -- incumbent
    Lucy Brenton (Libertarian)

    debates:

    Date: October 8
    Hosted by: Indiana Debate Commission
    Moderator: Anne Ryder (Indiana University Media School senior lecturer)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Ryder asked Braun, Donnelly, and Brenton what the U.S. government should do to address climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Indiana Debate Commission
    Moderator: Amna Nawaz (PBS NewsHour anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Nawaz told the candidates that several voters were not satisfied with answers they gave about climate change during a previous debate. She then read a viewer question asking the candidates to detail what they would do specifically to combat climate change. Watch the video:

    Iowa

    Climate threats: Iowa is at risk from drought, inland flooding, and extreme heat, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Kim Reynolds (R) -- incumbent
    Fred Hubbell (D)

    Debates:

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: The Des Moines Register, KCCI-TV
    Moderators: Steve Karlin (KCCI anchor), Kathie Obradovich (The Des Moines Register)
    VideoKCCI’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 17
    Hosted by: KTIV-TV, KTTC-TV, KWWL-TV
    Moderator: Matt Breen (KTIV anchor)
    Panelists: Tom Overlie (KTTC anchor), Ron Steele (KWWL anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: KCRG-TV, KWQC-TV, The Quad-City Times
    Moderator: David Nelson (KWQC anchor)
    Panelists: Jenna Jackson (KWQC anchor/reporter), Forrest Saunders (KCRG anchor/reporter), Erin Murphy (Lee Enterprise Des Moines bureau chief)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Jackson referenced the recent United Nations report on climate change before asking the candidates if they accepted the science of climate change and the impact it will have globally. Watch the video:

    Kansas

    Climate threats: Kansas is at risk from extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Kris Kobach (R)
    Laura Kelly (D)
    Greg Orman (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 5
    Hosted by: Johnson County Bar Association
    Moderator: Nick Haines (KCPT-TV news host/executive producer)
    Video: KCPT-TV YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 8
    Hosted by: Kansas State Fair, WIBW
    Moderator: Greg Akagi (WIBW farm and sports broadcaster)
    VideoWIBW’S Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KOFO        
    AudioKOFO’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: Southwest Kansas Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Marieta Hauser (Grant County Chamber of Commerce director)
    AudioKSCB News.net
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Nexstar Broadcasting Group
    Moderator: Jeff Herndon (KSN anchor) 
    Panelists: Jessica Schaer (KSN anchor), Bob Beatty (KSNT political analyst)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Maine

    Climate threats: Maine is at risk from extreme heat, drought, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Shawn Moody (R)
    Janet Mills (D)
    Terry Hayes (independent)
    Alan Caron (independent) (withdrew from race on October 29)

    debates:

    Date: September 10
    Hosted by: Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Beckie Conrad (Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president)
    VideoLewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 13
    Hosted by: Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech)
    Moderator: Carol Coultas (Portland Press Herald business editor)
    VideoGoogle Drive
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions, despite the fact that the debate was focused on the topics of energy and the environment. But the candidates did address climate change in their answers to some questions.  

    Date: October 3
    Hosted by: Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Quincy Hentzel (Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, CEO)
    VideoPortland Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: Portland Press Herald, University of New England
    Moderator: Carol Coultas (Portland Press Herald business editor)
    Panelists: Bill Nemitz (Portland Press Herald columnist), Greg Kesich (Portland Press Herald editorial page editor)
    Video: Portland Press Herald’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Panelist Nemitz and moderator Coultas asked questions that spurred a discussion about climate change and renewable energy. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: WMTW Channel 8
    Moderator: Meghan Torjussen (WMTW anchor)
    Panelists: Paul Merrill (WMTW political reporter), John Small (WABI assistant news director), Katie Zarrilli (WAGM reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Small asked the candidates to discuss their plans to address the impacts of climate change and transition Maine to renewable energy. Watch the video:

    Date: October 28
    Hosted by: Maine Public
    Moderator: Jennifer Rooks (Maine Public public affairs host/producer)
    Panelists: Steve Mistler (Main Public chief political correspondent), Mal Leary (Maine Public political correspondent) 
    VideoMaine Public.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: WGME
    Moderator: Gregg Lagerquist (WGME anchor)
    Panelist: Mike Shepherd (The Bangor Daily News reporter)
    VideoThe Bangor Daily News’ Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelist did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Michigan

    Climate threats: Michigan is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bill Schuette (R)
    Gretchen Whitmer (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 12
    Hosted by: WOOD-TV
    Moderator: Rick Albin (WOOD-TV political reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: WDIV-TV
    Moderators: Kimberly Gill (WDIV-TV anchor), Devin Scillian (WDIV-TV anchor) 
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Scillian referenced the United Nations report on climate change, then asked the candidates if they agreed with the 14 governors who pledged to abide by the terms of the Paris agreement and what their approaches would be to combating climate change. Watch the video:

    Minnesota

    Climate threats: Minnesota is at risk from drought and extreme heat, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Jeff Johnson (R)
    Tim Walz (D)

    debates:

    Date: August 17
    Hosted by: Twin Cities PBS
    Moderators: Cathy Wurzer (Almanac host), Eric Eskola (Almanac host)
    VideoTwin Cities PBS.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Wurzer asked Johnson and Walz how they would enable cities to respond and adapt to climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: August 31
    Hosted by: Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)
    Moderator: Mike Mulcahy (MPR political editor)
    VideoMPR News Facebook page
    Climate questions: Moderator Mulcahy asked both Johnson and Walz about their positions on climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Nick Halter (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal senior reporter/broadcaster)
    VideoYouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 9
    Hosted by: Minnesota Corn Growers Association, WCCO Minnesota AgriGrowth
    Moderators: Chad Hartman (WCCO host), Blois Olson (WCCO political analyst)
    AudioWBRN Radio’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: Metropolitan State University
    Moderators: Paul Folger (KSTP anchor), Leah McLean (KSTP anchor/reporter)
    VideoWDIO’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 2
    Hosted by: Twin Cities PBS
    Moderators: Cathy Wurzer (Almanac host), Eric Eskola (Almanac host)
    VideoTwin Cities PBS.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Wurzer asked the candidates if they would increase renewable energy standards and encourage new technologies or let the free market decide the best way to meet state goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Watch the video:    

    Missouri

    Climate threats: Missouri is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Josh Hawley (R)
    Claire McCaskill (D) -- incumbent
    Jo Crain (Green)
    Craig O’Dear (independent)

    debateS:

    Date: September 14
    Hosted by: Missouri Press Association
    Moderator: David Lieb (Associated Press correspondent)
    VideoHawley’s Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: St. Louis Public Radio, KSDK-TV's 5 On Your Side, Nine Network of Public Media
    Moderator: Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour managing editor) 
    Panelists: Jo Mannies (St. Louis Public Radio reporter), Mike Bush (5 On Your Side anchor)
    VideoPBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions, although an audience member did.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: KMBC  
    Moderators: Kris Ketz (KMBC anchor), Micheal Mahoney (KMBC correspondent)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask a climate-related question.

    Nevada

    Climate threats: Nevada is at risk from drought, extreme heat, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Adam Laxalt (R)
    Steve Sisolak (D)

    No debates were held.

    Senate candidates:

    Dean Heller (R)
    Jacky Rosen (D)

    debate:

    Date: October 19
    Hosted by: Telemundo, News 4 (KRNV-DT), News 3 (KSNV-TV)
    Moderator: Denise Valez (KLAS anchor)
    Panelists: Steve Sebelius (KLAS anchor), Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix (KINC anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Sebelius noted the United Nations’ recent report on climate change and listed some of the dangers of climate change like droughts, extreme heat, and poverty, then asked the candidates what policies they would support to address climate change. Watch the video:

    New Mexico

    Climate threats: New Mexico is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Steve Pearce (R)
    Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: KRQE-TV
    Moderator: Dean Staley (KRQE-TV anchor)
    VideoNews 13 (KRQE-TV) YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KOB Channel 4
    Moderators: Tessa Mentus (KOB anchor), Steve Soliz (KOB anchor)
    Video: KOB.com
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: KOAT-TV, Albuquerque Journal
    Moderator: Doug Fernandez (KOAT anchor)
    Panelists: Shelly Ribando (KOAT anchor), Kent Walz (Albuquerque Journal senior editor)
    VideoKOAT.com
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    North Dakota

    Climate threats: North Dakota is at risk from extreme heat and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Kevin Cramer (R)
    Heidi Heitkamp (D) -- incumbent

    debates:

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: North Dakota Newspaper Association
    Moderator: Korrie Wenzel (Grand Forks Herald publisher)
    Panelists: Steve Wagner (Grand Forks Herald editor), Cecile Wehrman (Journal Publishing president), Owen Piehl (The MHS Courier editor)
    VideoGrand Forks Herald.com
    Climate questions: Panelist Wagner asked the candidates what the United States should do to address global climate change given that North Dakota’s economy relies on oil and coal development. Watch the video:

    Ohio

    Climate threats: Ohio is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Mike DeWine (R)
    Richard Cordray (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: University of Dayton, Cox Media Group Ohio
    Moderator: James Brown (WHIO-TV news anchor)
    Panelists: Jim Otte (WHIO-TV investigative reporter), Laura Bischoff (Dayton Daily News reporter), Christopher Devine (University of Dayton assistant professor of political science)
    VideoCBS News YouTube page 
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 1
    Hosted by: Marietta College
    Moderator: Colleen Marshall (NBC 4 anchor)
    Video: NBC 4’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the townhall.

    Date: October 8
    Hosted by: Cleveland State University, Ohio Debate Commission
    Moderator: Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio and Television statehouse bureau chief)
    Panelists: Jackie Borchardt (Cincinnati Enquirer Columbus bureau chief), Jerry Revish (WBNS-TV anchor)
    VideoWLWT’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Senate candidates:

    Jim Renacci (R)
    Sherrod Brown (D) -- incumbent

    debates:

    Date: October 14
    Hosted by: Ohio Debate Commission
    Moderators: Ann Fisher (WOSU Public Media host), Russ Mitchell (WKYC-TV anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Fisher asked Renacci and Brown for their reactions to the recent United Nations report on climate change. See the video and transcript here:

    Date: October 20
    Hosted by: WCMH, WOSU
    Moderator: Colleen Marshall (WCMH anchor)
    Panelists: Mark Allan (WDTN anchor), Mike Jackson (WCMH anchor), Mike Thompson (WOSU director)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Jackson referenced the United Nations' recent climate report before asking Renacci if he agreed with President Trump's climate denial. Watch the video:

    Date: October 26
    Hosted by: WLWT
    Moderator: Sheree Paolello (WLWT anchor)
    Panelists: Ashley Kirkien (WLWT anchor/reporter), Curtis Fuller (WLWT anchor/reporter), Dr. John Forren (Miami University (Ohio) associate professor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Oregon

    Climate threats: Oregon is at risk from drought, wildfires, extreme heat, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Knute Buehler (R)
    Kate Brown (D) -- incumbent
    Patrick Starnes (Independent Party of Oregon)

    debates:

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Children First for Oregon, KOIN-TV, Pamplin Media Group
    Moderators: Jeff Gianola (KOIN-TV anchor), Shasta Kearns Moore (Portland Tribune education reporter) 
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 4
    Hosted by: KOBI-TV
    Moderator: Craig Smullin (KOBI/KOTI news director)
    Panelists: Kristin Hosfelt (KOBI/KOTI executive producer and anchor), Patricia Smullin (KOBI/KOTI president)
    Video: KOBI-TV’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 9
    Hosted by: KGW-TV, The Oregonian
    Moderator: Tracy Barry (KGW anchor)
    Panelists: Steve Duin (Oregonian columnist), Hillary Borrud (Oregonian reporter), Laural Porter (KGW anchor)
    Video: KGW’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Panelist Duin asked both Buehler and Brown about leadership in addressing climate change, and a voter asked a question about clean energy. See the transcript and video:

    Rhode Island

    Climate threats: Rhode Island is at risk from extreme heat, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Allan Fung (R)
    Gina Raimondo (D) -- incumbent
    Joe Trillo (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 27
    Hosted by: Roger Williams University
    Moderator: Danielle North (WPRI-TV anchor) 
    Panelists: Tim White (WPRI-TV investigative reporter), Ted Nesi (WPRI-TV political/economic reporter) 
    VideoWPRI-12’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 15
    Hosted byThe Providence Journal, The Public's Radio, University of Rhode Island
    Moderator: Ian Donnis (The Public’s Radio political reporter)
    Panelists: Patrick Anderson (The Providence Journal reporter), Lianna Blakeman (The Good Five editor-in-chief)
    VideoThe Providence Journal’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Blakeman, a student journalist, mentioned the recent United Nations' report on climate change and asked the candidates how they would protect the state's coastline. Watch the video:

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: WJAR, American Democracy Project
    Moderator: Gene Valicenti (WJAR anchor)
    VideoWPRI.com
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Tennessee

    Climate threats: Tennessee is at risk from extreme heat, drought, inland flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Marsha Blackburn (R)
    Phil Bredesen (D)

    Debates:

    Date: September 25
    Hosted by: The Tennessean, League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV, WNPT-TV
    Moderators: Rhori Johnston (WTVF-TV anchor), David Plazas (The Tennessean opinion engagement editor)
    Video: The Tennessean’s YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, Nextar Media Group
    Moderator: Katina Rankin (WATN anchor)
    Panelists: Richard Ransom (WATN anchor), Kristin Farley (WATE anchor), Bob Mueller (WKRN anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Texas

    Climate threats: Texas is at risk from extreme heat, drought, coastal flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Ted Cruz (R) -- incumbent
    Beto O’Rourke (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 21
    Hosted by: Southern Methodist University, The Dallas Morning News, KXAS-TV
    Moderators: Julie Fine (KXAS-TV political reporter), Gromer Jeffers (The Dallas Morning News political writer)
    Video: NBC News YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KENS Channel 5
    Moderators: Sarah Forgany (KENS 5 news anchor), Jason Whitely (WFAA senior reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Whitely asked Cruz about his history of climate change denial. See the transcript and video:

    West Virginia

    Climate threats: West Virginia is at risk from extreme heat and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Patrick Morrisey (R)   
    Joe Manchin (D) -- incumbent

    Debate:

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: West Virginia Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: Hoppy Kercheval (MetroNews host)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Wisconsin

    Climate threats: Wisconsin is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Scott Walker (R) -- incumbent
    Tony Evers (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 19
    Hosted by: Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
    Moderator: Jill Geisler (journalist)
    Panelists: Leigh Mills (WMTV anchor), Jessica Arp (WISC reporter), Emilee Fannon (WKOW reporter), Lupita Montoto (La Movida Radio host)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 26
    Hosted by: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Moderators: Charles Benson (WTMJ-TV anchor), Shannon Sims (WTMJ-TV anchor), Mitch Teich (WUWM-FM host)
    VideoWisconsinEye’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Sims asked a reader question submitted via Twitter that noted extreme weather in Wisconsin and inquired how the candidates would mitigate the effects of climate change. Watch the video:

  • Trump admin claims replacing Clean Power Plan will help minorities. That’s not true.

    White House talking points promote debunked study from National Black Chamber of Commerce, an industry front group

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER

    The Trump administration has proposed a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, and it's defending its proposal by citing a thoroughly debunked and discredited 2015 study from an industry-funded front group, the National Black Chamber of Commerce. 

    The Clean Power Plan (CPP), finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Barack Obama in 2015, called for reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants while increasing the use of renewable energy. The Trump administration intends to revoke that plan and replace it with the Affordable Clean Energy rule, would allow much more pollution from coal plants.  

    Trump administration cites figures from debunked 2015 study

    The Trump administration's draft talking points in support of the EPA's replacement plan, obtained by E&E News, cite a debunked study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), a fossil-fuel-funded group that purports to represent black businesses. The talking points claim that the Clean Power Plan "would have hurt minorities and senior citizens disproportionally," and goes on to list statistics that came directly from the NBCC report:

    According to Harry Alford, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, CPP would increase Black poverty by 23 percent and Hispanic poverty by 26 percent. It would result in cumulative job losses of 7 million for Blacks and nearly 12 million for Hispanics in 2035.

    But the NBCC report was thoroughly debunked after it was released in 2015.

    Fact-checkers exposed serious problems with the NBCC study

    The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists outlined many of the NBCC study’s flaws in a blog post in 2015. It explained that the study, which was conducted by Management Information Services Inc. (MISI), was itself based on other studies that had a variety of problems (emphasis in original):

    [H]ere’s the first of the study’s fatal flaws: it depends, as it explicitly says (p. 21), on the findings of seven other studies, which it lists. But those seven include:

    • Three studies that came out before the EPA published the draft CPP, meaning they don’t actually study the CPP as proposed—even though that’s the supposed focus of the NBCC/MISI analysis
    • One that was just (self-described) “preliminary analysis” from the United Mine Workers of America, a group you’d be hard-pressed to characterize as an unbiased voice in this debate
    • Three other studies funded by other fossil fuel interests who oppose the Clean Power Plan

    Two of those studies were the focus of a recent UCS webinar showing how such studies use bad assumptions and get used to sow confusion and spread disinformation about the CPP.

    One of those, done by IHS on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is the report most cited in this new work, even though it was one of those that came out before the draft CPP, and even though there was, as the Chamber itself admitted, “a big difference” between what they’d modeled and what EPA put forth (which the new study doesn’t acknowledge).

    The flaws in the study by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) for Peabody Energy (the largest U.S. coal company) are also clear. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has pointed out that, unlike other studies, EVA’s didn’t even show a business-as-usual case, meaning that any CPP results were floating in a vacuum, without reference to a base case of shifting energy costs and other economic factors.

    Fact-checkers at PolitiFact and The Washington Post had both highlighted severe problems with the 2014 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that was a main source for NBCC's study. From a 2014 PolitiFact analysis:

    [The U.S. Chamber] study wrongly assumed the administration would set a benchmark of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent before 2030. The regulations released June 2 actually put forward a 30 percent reduction within that timeframe. The chamber itself told PolitiFact its estimates are not based on the goals as announced.

    For that same reason, The Washington Post's fact-checking team gave Republican politicians who cited the Chamber of Commerce study in 2014 a "Four Pinocchio" rating, its lowest.

    Separate fact-checks cast doubt on another study that the NBCC report relied on, this one conducted by NERA Economic Consulting in 2014. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote that the NERA study "falsely inflates the cost of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan by denying energy efficiency’s proven ability to save consumers money," and went on to explain that the study used "a 2012 study that has been repeatedly discredited" to justify its inflated cost estimates. The Washington Post's fact-checking team also raised serious questions about the NERA study.

    The NERA study was funded by industries that had much to gain from stymieing the Clean Power Plan, including fossil fuel interests. Among the commissioning groups were the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the National Mining Association.

    Clean Power Plan would have benefited Black, Latinx, and other minority communities

    Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, became a central figure in a disinformation campaign backed by fossil-fuel interests because he was willing to assert that the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan would harm communities of color. He placed anti-Clean Power Plan op-eds in at least seven newspapers and saw right-wing outlets echo and amplify his discredited assertions.

    In fact, the EPA under Obama took steps to ensure that the Clean Power Plan addressed many of the environmental and economic concerns of minority and low-income communities, after pressure was applied by civil rights leaders, environmental justice groups, and environmental activists.

    When the NBCC report came out in 2015, a coalition of environmental justice groups, including Green For All and Voces Verdes, challenged its claims that the Clean Power Plan would hurt minority communities. The groups argued instead that the plan would in fact help marginalized and low-income Americans:

    The report alleges that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will harm African American and Hispanic families, when in fact findings from numerous independent organizations show the plan will actually benefit communities.

    In reality, the Clean Power Plan will prevent asthma and other pollution-related illnesses, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and save families money on their utility bills. Low income and minority Americans, who are most often the hardest hit when it comes to the effects of climate change, will benefit substantially.

    Recently the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) produced a report reaffirming and further outlining these benefits. The report also refutes many of the myths asserted by the NBCC, known to [be] funded by special interests groups seeking to preserve the bottom line for dirty energy companies.

    Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy rule will harm minority communities

    Environmental justice activists point out that the Trump administration's new plan is the one that poses a real threat to communities of color. The advocacy group GreenLatinos issued this statement from its president and CEO, Mark Magaña:

    The Trump Administration continues to put the health of the Latino community and all Americans at risk by gutting the Clean Power Plan, the first and only federal limit on carbon pollution from power plants — a major source of the pollution that exacerbates climate change — which protects public health and promotes climate change solutions.

    The Latino community is hit first and worst by climate change and we suffer disproportionate public health effects with 40% of Latinos living within 30 miles of a power plant. The stakes are too high, with Latinx children being 40% more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino white children.

    Today, as we continue to witness these severe weather patterns and devastating impacts of carbon pollution on public health, the Trump Administration is moving to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, endangering the health of our communities and undermine the transition to cleaner and safer renewable energy sources.

    GreenLatinos rejects the efforts by the Trump Administration and Acting Administrator Wheeler as they disregard the overwhelming support for increasing efforts to protect our air quality.

    Other environmental justice advocates also spoke out against the Trump EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule. “They’re really putting people’s lives in danger,” Mustafa Santiago Ali, a senior vice president at the Hip Hop Caucus and former EPA advisor on environmental justice, told Earther.

  • Koch-funded groups mount PR and media campaign to fight carbon pricing

    Worried about momentum for carbon taxes, climate deniers go on attack via right-wing media

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters  

    A coalition of right-wing organizations is waging a multilayered attack to erode growing support for carbon pricing. Most of the groups involved have been funded by the Koch network or other fossil fuel interests.

    Several different carbon-pricing mechanisms -- variously backed by groups of progressives, Democrats, establishment Republicans, or business interests -- are being proposed at the state and national levels. To counter these initiatives, the right-wing coalition is running a public relations campaign featuring industry-friendly arguments and climate denial. Their advocacy includes exerting direct pressure on lawmakers to oppose carbon-pricing initiatives and placing op-eds in right-wing and mainstream media publications.

    The basics of carbon pricing  

    A carbon price is a cost attached to emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, intended to reduce those emissions. According to the World Bank, there are two main ways to price carbon:

    An ETS [emissions trading system] — sometimes referred to as a cap-and-trade system — caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters. By creating supply and demand for emissions allowances, an ETS establishes a market price for greenhouse gas emissions. The cap helps ensure that the required emission reductions will take place to keep the emitters (in aggregate) within their pre-allocated carbon budget.

    A carbon tax directly sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or — more commonly — on the carbon content of fossil fuels. It is different from an ETS in that the emission reduction outcome of a carbon tax is not predefined but the carbon price is.

    Some 45 countries and 25 states, provinces, and other subnational regions have implemented some variation of carbon pricing, including California and the nine Northeastern states that are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

    Momentum is building for carbon-pricing policies

    Carbon pricing has almost no chance of being implemented on the national level anytime soon. The last serious push came early during the Obama administration when the U.S. House passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, but it died in the Senate in 2010.

    President Donald Trump opposes carbon pricing, as do the vast majority of Republican members of Congress. Nevertheless, the approach is gaining traction at the state level, and a growing number of business interests and establishment Republicans are promoting carbon-pricing proposals at the national level.

    • The Climate Leadership Council -- which is composed of a number of influential conservatives, including former Secretaries of State James Baker and George Schulz, and major oil companies and other corporations -- is one of the most prominent organizations advocating for carbon pricing. It launched in 2017 with the release of a report, “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.” Its proposal is known as the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan.
    • In June, a new political action committee, Americans for Carbon Dividends, was launched to build support for the Baker-Shultz plan. It is co-chaired by former Sens. Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux (D-LA), who both represented oil states.
    • Other conservative groups that support carbon pricing include republicEn and R Street.
    • Conservative thinkers who have endorsed carbon pricing or called for it to be given serious consideration include Weekly Standard editor at large Bill Kristol, New York Times columnist David Brooks, the Cato Institute's Peter Van Doren, and American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Aparna Mathur, among many others.
    • The nonpartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which advocates for a carbon fee and dividend proposal, has a conservative caucus and counts Shultz and former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) as members of its advisory board.
    • Six House Republicans recently exhibited openness to carbon taxes by voting against an anti-carbon-tax resolution. Two years ago, no Republicans voted against a similar resolution.
    • Two House Republicans are pushing a carbon-tax bill. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, introduced the Market Choice Act on July 23. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) is the bill's co-sponsor.
    • A few congressional Democrats are also pushing carbon-pricing bills: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and David Cicilline (D-RI) have introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) has introduced the America Wins Act.
    • More than a dozen states have taken serious strides toward enacting a carbon price. Legislators in eight states have introduced carbon-pricing legislation in 2018 alone: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In June, the Massachusetts Senate passed a carbon-pricing bill, which now goes before the state House. 
    • In January, nine states -- Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington -- formed the Carbon Costs Coalition, which is advocating for carbon pricing.
    • At the December 2017 One Planet summit held in France, two states -- California and Washington -- joined five Pacific Rim countries -- Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico -- in committing to implement carbon pricing.

    Although some of the more conservative, oil-industry-backed carbon-tax plans are opposed by progressives, and the more progressive plans are opposed by conservatives and the oil industry, they all have one foe in common -- the Koch-backed anti-carbon-pricing coalition.

    Alex Flint, the executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, a group of conservative leaders who support carbon pricing, said in April, “Those who oppose a carbon tax are rallying their defenses for a reason: they see supporters gaining momentum.”

    A right-wing campaign against carbon pricing ramps up

    On July 19, the U.S. House voted 229 to 180 to approve a nonbinding resolution opposing a carbon tax, largely along party lines. Six Republicans voted against it, and seven Democrats voted for it. The anti-carbon-pricing coalition helped to make sure almost all Republicans were on the "yes" side.

    The measure had been introduced on April 26 by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), House majority whip and possible contender for House speaker, and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) -- both climate deniers. The “sense of the House” resolution declared that “a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States,” and it garnered 48 co-sponsors total. (Scalise had previously sponsored anti-carbon-tax measures in 2013 and 2016.)

    On the day the resolution was introduced, the leaders of more than 25 right-wing and industry lobbying groups released a letter calling on members of Congress to support it. "We oppose any carbon tax," the letter read (emphasis in original). On July 9, many of these same groups sent a follow-up letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) urging them to hold a vote on Scalise’s resolution. Groups sent one more letter to members of Congress on July 17, two days before the vote.

    The influential right-wing group Americans for Tax Reform, which signed onto all three letters, put out its own call for representatives to vote yes.

    Altogether, 51 groups signed at least one of the letters in favor of Scalise's resolution:

    At least 42 of the 51 groups (82 percent) have received money from the Koch network, a conglomerate of fossil fuel executives, donors, think tanks, and advocacy groups that work to advance the right-wing deregulatory and anti-environment objectives of the Koch brothers and their company, Koch Industries. Scalise is a recipient of Koch money too: In 2017 and 2018, KochPAC, a political action committee that represents Koch Industries, gave $105,000 to Scalise and to a PAC and leadership fund he runs.

    Koch Industries also weighed in directly in support of Scalise’s resolution by sending a letter to members of the House on July 16.

    The Koch brothers have waged a multimillion-dollar crusade to undermine acceptance of climate change and support for climate change solutions since the mid-2000s. Starting in 2008, the Kochs' main political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, cajoled hundreds of elected officials, including many congressional Republicans, into signing its influential “No Climate Tax" pledge. “The pledge marked a pivotal turn in the climate-change debate, cementing Republican opposition to addressing the environmental crisis,” Jane Mayer wrote in The New Yorker last year.

    Right-wing groups' arguments against carbon pricing often feature the Kochs' libertarian talking points or straight-up climate-change denial.

    For example, the American Energy Alliance makes vague free-market arguments in a piece on its website titled “ICYMI: There’s Nothing Conservative About a Carbon Tax”:

    Simply calling something “conservative” or “free-market” doesn’t make it so. The Climate Leadership Council’s carbon tax is an affront to the principles that conservatives have championed for decades. Most important, a carbon tax would destroy American jobs, encourage more wasteful spending from Washington, and burden consumers with higher energy costs. You’d be hard pressed to find a more damaging policy for American families.

    The Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Koch-funded think tank that argued Scalise’s resolution understates the harm of carbon pricing, denied the well-established scientific consensus around human-caused climate change in its April 30 white paper, “Does a Carbon Tax Support Prosperity?”:

    There remain questionable fundamental issues about the way carbon dioxide affects the climate. Observed temperatures by sophisticated technologies greatly and consistently conflict with today’s widely accepted, although highly questionable, scientific consensus about the effects humans have on climate change.

    Conservative and right-wing media amplify the anti-carbon-tax campaign

    In the days after Scalise’s resolution was introduced, it was covered in the right-wing and conservative mediasphere and praised in op-eds by commentators from right-wing think tanks.

    • The Hill published an op-ed supporting the resolution, written by the authors of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's anti-carbon-tax white paper.
    • RealClearPolicy published an op-ed opposing carbon taxes in general, written by a researcher from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
    • The Washington Examiner ran an op-ed from a Heartland Institute senior fellow praising the resolution and contending that a carbon tax would be "disastrous."

    Conservative outlets continued to publish anti-carbon-pricing opinion pieces from Koch-funded think tanks up until the House voted on Scalise's resolution.

    • TribTalk, a publication of The Texas Tribune, published an op-ed denouncing carbon taxes that was co-written by an author of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s white paper and a senior economist at the Institute for Energy Research. The latter is a Koch-funded partner group of the American Energy Alliance.  
    • RealClearEnergy ran an op-ed by staffers from the Texas Public Policy Foundation and ALEC that incorporated many of the white paper’s talking points.
    • The Daily Signal published an opinion piece co-written by an analyst and an intern from the Heritage Foundation that promoted Scalise's resolution and denounced the Baker-Shultz plan.
    • The Washington Examiner published an op-ed from Americans for Tax Reform’s director of strategic initiatives that endorsed the Scalise resolution.

    After Scalise’s resolution passed, anti-carbon-pricing groups took a brief victory lap before quickly turning their attention toward attacking Curbelo’s carbon-tax bill.

    • The Daily Caller wrote about Americans for Tax Reform’s press conference, highlighting opposition to Curbelo’s proposal: "Conservative and anti-tax groups from around the world joined together to speak against a carbon tax bill that has been introduced in Congress." 
    • Reason published an article contending that Curbelo’s bill could raise privacy concerns for businesses.
    • The Miami Herald published a letter to the editor attacking Curbelo’s legislation from the president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a group that has sided with polluters in other fights over environmental issues.
    • The Washington Examiner published an op-ed co-written by staffers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance that argued Curbelo's bill would be "a costly failure."
    • Forbes published a piece attacking carbon-pricing proponents written by an executive for Americans for Tax Reform.
    • CNSNews published an op-ed from a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute that bashed Curbelo's bill.
    • The Star Beacon, an Ohio newspaper, published an op-ed from the president of American Commitment condemning Curbelo’s bill.
    • The Washington Examiner published an opinion piece by an analyst from the Family Business Coalition that attacked progressives’ “delusional tax reform ideas,” including proposals for a carbon tax.

    Anti-carbon-pricing coalition enlists minority groups in its campaign

    The anti-carbon-pricing coalition is also trying to make it look like its effort has the support of minority communities -- a strategy the polluter lobby has used often. The National Black Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, two Koch-funded minority groups with long histories of opposing climate solutions, were enlisted as signatories on the coalition's letters endorsing Scalise's anti-carbon-tax resolution.

    National Black Chamber President Harry C. Alford gave a quote to Scalise to support his resolution: “We can continue to reduce regulations and watch our economy rise with the recent tax reform. Bringing unnecessary hurdles before us like a carbon tax will preclude that growth and hurt our economy immensely.” Alford, a climate denier, has previously opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to impose smog restrictions on factories and power plants and to reduce carbon emissions from coal plants through the Clean Power Plan. The National Black Chamber of Commerce also led a disinformation campaign against rooftop solar in Florida in 2016.

    The Hispanic Leadership Fund participated in Americans for Tax Reform's press conference criticizing Curbelo's bill. In 2015, the fund joined with other Koch-aligned groups in asking a federal judge to vacate the Clean Power Plan. In 2009, it co-sponsored a Heartland Institute conference on climate change, which was based on the premise that “Global Warming is Not a Crisis.”

    The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is also part of the anti-carbon-tax effort. Its president wrote a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald opposing Curbelo’s legislation. In 2016, the group supported a utility-backed ballot measure designed to restrict consumer access to rooftop solar power in Florida.

    These efforts are especially harmful because minority and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from the burning of fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change and minorities are generally more concerned about climate change than white people. 

    Taking the fight to the states

    Curbelo’s bill won’t be passed into law by this Congress, and the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan and other national carbon-pricing proposals won’t get much if any traction this year either. But in a number of states, carbon-pricing measures are gathering more support and have more chance of being enacted. The right-wing, anti-carbon-pricing coalition wants to halt this trend, so it's at work on the state level too. Media Matters will examine these state-focused efforts in a forthcoming piece.

  • Newspapers are failing to connect extreme heat to climate change

    During the recent heat wave, only about 11 percent of articles mentioned global warming, a new report finds

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER

    Almost 90 percent of articles about the recent heat wave in the biggest 50 U.S. newspapers failed to mention hot weather’s connection to climate change, according to a new report published by the nonprofit Public Citizen.

    This unfortunate trend extends beyond newspapers. Media Matters has documented how rarely broadcast TV networks cover climate change. Our most recent study looked at how the major broadcast networks covered the links between climate change and extreme heat and found that over a two-week period from late June to early July, only one segment out of 127 about the heat wave mentioned climate change.

    Public Citizen looked at coverage of extreme heat in the top 50 U.S. newspapers by circulation over the first half of 2018 and found that less than 18 percent of the articles mentioned climate change:

    In the top 50 newspapers, a total of 760 articles mentioned extreme heat, heat waves, record heat, or record temperatures from January 1 to July 8, 2018. One hundred thirty-four of these pieces (17.6 percent) also mentioned climate change or global warming.

    In late June and early July, when a heat wave was afflicting much of the U.S., the percentage of articles mentioning climate change was even lower:

    During the period June 27 to July 8, only 23 of 204 heat-related articles (11.3 percent) mentioned climate.

    Public Citizen also looked beyond the top 50 papers to see how extreme heat was covered in papers in 13 states where 10 or more local areas broke heat records from June 27 to July 8. This more localized newspaper coverage was even worse:

    During the heat wave, there were 673 articles, with 26 (3.9 percent) mentioning climate.

    While writers and editors may want to exercise caution in attributing any individual event to climate change, the science is clear that our warming climate is making extreme events like heat waves, floods, and fires more intense and more frequent. That’s why environmental journalists and communicators have been calling on major news outlets to do a better job of covering climate change and the environmental rollbacks that could make things worse.

    Public Citizen’s report did highlight notable exceptions when newspapers did strong reporting to connect extreme heat to climate change -- such as a story by Austin American-Statesman reporter Roberto Villalpando that explained how climate change is bringing 100-degree days to Austin earlier in the year. Despite this, the report concluded, “U.S. news outlets continue to tell only half the story. These exceptions need to become the norm if the public is going to wake from its slumber on climate change in time to take the bold action we urgently need to avoid catastrophic harm, and possibly even an existential threat to the U.S., later this century.”