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Campaign Quandaries for Environmentalists

Campaign Quandaries for Environmentalists

If you're an environmentalist heading into this year's midterm elections, defending the greater good—the Democratic Senate—is not going to be so great.

 

To keep the Senate blue, Democrats need to pick up or retain seats where candidates from both parties are fossil-fuel backers. To wit:

You don't want to support a Democrat who champions coal, like Alison Lundergan Grimes, seeking to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, but a Grimes win would knock off one of the EPA's biggest—and most powerful—critics.

You don't want to back Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, a Keystone-touting Democrat who's about to chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is considering targeting her in an anti-Keystone campaign. But, her main challenger, GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, also supports Keystone.

 

The path to the greater good for greens may mean accepting the lesser of two evils.

Amy Harder
@AmyAHarder
aharder@nationaljournal.com 

P.S. Is Obama right to bet on natural gas? Take the NJ Energy Poll

TOP ENERGY NEWS

By Clare Foran (@ckmarie) and Ben Geman (@Ben_Geman)

 

STUDY TIES PACIFIC WINDS TO GLOBAL WARMING SLOWDOWN. A new paper says stronger Pacific Ocean winds that push warm waters down and bring cooler water up could be a key reason why the increase in global surface temperatures has slowed over the past 15 years or so.

  • Our take: The surface warming slowdown has given new political ammunition to critics of carbon emissions regulations, but it's not clear whether emerging research can affect the policy battles.

THE FIVE BIGGEST ENERGY CHANGES IN THE PAST SIX YEARS. The energy and climate world has been turned on its head in less than a decade.

LIBERAL DONORS PUT PERSONAL AGENDA AHEAD OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY. By targeting moderate Democrats on energy and gun control, the left could end up helping Republicans retake the Senate.

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STUDENTS SENT HOME FROM WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOLS AMID FEARS OVER WATER CONTAMINATION. A month after a chemical spill led to a partial tap-water ban in the state, reports of water contamination continue to surface.

COMPANY RESPONSIBLE FOR CHEMICAL SPILL IS A NO SHOW AT HEARING. Freedom Industries was not represented at a congressional field hearing to examine the West Virginia water contamination case.

CANADIAN AMBASSADOR SAYS REJECTION OF KEYSTONE WOULD STRAIN DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the U.S., said a decision not to approve the pipeline would "be perceived as being political."

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: KEYSTONE WILL GO FORWARD. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes that if Obama doesn't approve the pipeline, another president will.

SALT BEDS OFFER POTENTIAL SOLUTION TO MOUNTAIN OF NUCLEAR-WASTE PROBLEM. Salt beds in New Mexico could serve as an alternative to the now defunct Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository.

CHINA BOOSTS SUBSIDIES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES. In a bid to cut back on air pollution, Chinese officials are working to make electric cars more affordable for consumers.

WINTER WEATHER BLANKETS THE SOUTH. A number of southern states have been hard hit by winter weather and in Georgia a state of emergency has been declared as a result of icy conditions.

YOUR TAKE…

NATIONAL JOURNAL ENERGY POLL: Is Obama making the right bet by fully backing natural gas?

A) Yes, completely

B) Partly, but he needs to bet more on renewable energy too

C) No, not at all

D) Undecided

Click here to respond

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING…

IS OBAMA MAKING THE RIGHT BET ON NATURAL GAS? In his State of the Union speech, Obama doubled down on his support for natural gas, calling it "the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution that causes climate change." Is that the right decision?

"The president's right to embrace natural gas. This abundant domestic resource is as close to a sure bet as any President could ask for when it comes to energy." -Marty Durbin, president and CEO, America's Natural Gas Alliance

"Gas is cleaner than coal, more flexible, and is at record low prices, thanks to directional drilling and fracking. Because of a massive construction binge in the 1990s, there is a huge amount of available capacity in the gas power plant fleet. These factors have made it the obvious short-term choice for utilities with coal headaches.But, we need a diverse fuel supply to hedge against future risks and to reduce conflict with heating and industrial uses of gas. Renewables are the obvious complement, and are also rapidly growing." -Ben Paulos, director, America's Power Plan

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders

HAPPENING TOMORROW

ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE EVENT. The Aspen Institute holds a discussion on India-U.S. perspectives on energy and climate change and opportunities for cooperation.

GREEN JOBS EVENT. The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation holds its "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" conference.

UTILITY CONFERENCE. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners holds its winter meeting.

SOLAR JOBS BRIEFING. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a briefing on the 2013 Solar Industry Job Census results.

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Exactly what I need as a busy college student."

Samantha, Student

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