Home Environment New ad campaign attacks Portman’s environmental record

New ad campaign attacks Portman’s environmental record

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It has the feel of numerous campaign advertisements: the ominous plinking piano, the stern voice of a woman, the black-and-white images of smoky factories, concerned citizens and an unflattering shot of an opposing politician.

The new campaign comes courtesy of the National Resources Defense Council and the Moms Clean Air Force. The target is freshman Ohio Senator Rob Portman for trying to get around new rules designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Portman tried to add an amendment to the Senate budget that would give states an exemption from President Obama’s plan to cut emissions.

The proposal said that states would be exempt from the emission regulations if a governor or legislature could prove that going off coal would increase costs. The proposal was never voted on, but it caught the attention of the NRDC, which subsequently began running ads.

Most scientist connect greenhouse gas emissions to global warming, while doctors believe they cause respiratory diseases like asthma.

But many members of the government have trouble taking this connection as fact, including Rob Portman.

Portman’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, claimed that the ad campaign was an attempt to help out Ted Strickland. The former governor of Ohio is the most likely candidate to nab the Democratic nomination for Portman’s seat.

“This is not an electoral campaign at all,” said Henry Henderson, the Midwest director for the NRDC. “The accusations from the Portman campaign is an attempt to avoid responsibility for an attack on the Clean Air Act.”

Bliss claimed that the NRDC was closely affiliated with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that Strickland had worked for until recently. And Portman certainly has a reason to be concerned — the senator is facing a 9-point deficit to Strickland, according to a recent poll. But the advertisement makes no reference to Portman’s political party or any Democratic nominee.

“This campaign is specifically a response to his proposal to make the Clean Air Act non-applicable in Ohio,” Henderson said.

Portman believes that the plan to cut carbon emissions crafted by the Obama Administration would unfairly punish states that are dependent on coal, like Ohio, which uses coal in 67 percent of its plants. His proposal would have allowed an exemption only if retail electricity prices, not overall homeowner costs, went up, although some believe the new EPA regulations will most likely drive overall household costs down.

Under the proposed plan, power plants in the Buckeye State would have to start shifting to alternative forms of power, like natural gas. As evidenced by his legislative record, Portman is more interested in energy efficiency as a solution to climate change.

Although Portman has been at odds with environmental groups at times, there have been instances where the two sides have come together. Less than a month ago, Portman sponsored a bill that provides new energy efficiency initiatives. The bill was co-sponsored by New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and was lauded by environmentalist groups. Among those groups was the NRDC, who even tweeted a congratulations.

But the good will that Portman earned was not enough to stop the NRDC from attacking Portman over his proposal. The television spot will run on television stations around the state, but will be focused in the major cities: Cleveland, Columbus and especially in Portman’s home Cincinnati, according to the NRDC.

“The senator wants to focus on destroying, fundamentally wrecking the foundations of health, and safety in the United States,” Henderson said. “This is not a small, momentary effort. You can’t care about the health of people and stand in the way of climate change. It’s utterly inconsistent.”

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