Tom Steyer’s Green Group Isn’t Talking About the Environment, for Now

LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 13: A view at the Las Vegas Bay overlook shows the Las Vegas Wash (L) feeding into Lake Mead on July 13, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. Much of the area in the foreground used to be underwater. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels.
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
July 30, 2014, 10:01 a.m.

Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate, the brainchild of ma­jor Demo­crat­ic be­ne­fact­or Tom Stey­er, has prom­ised to make cli­mate change a key is­sue in the midterm elec­tions. But you wouldn’t know that from watch­ing the green group’s latest ad.

A tele­vi­sion spot re­leased by the or­gan­iz­a­tion on Wed­nes­day sidesteps cli­mate en­tirely and fo­cuses squarely on jobs. The ad ac­cuses Iowa Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate hope­ful Joni Ernst of prom­ising to pro­tect tax breaks that be­ne­fit com­pan­ies re­spons­ible for ship­ping jobs abroad. It makes no men­tion of glob­al warm­ing or the en­vir­on­ment.

The mes­sage marks a de­par­ture from what has been a strictly en­vir­on­ment­al re­frain from the group un­til now. It may also sig­nal the start of a broad­er push from the Stey­er-backed or­gan­iz­a­tion as the midterms ap­proach.

Glob­al warm­ing has nev­er been a top voter pri­or­ity. And en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues have long taken a back seat to the eco­nomy in polling on voter pref­er­ence. In a sur­vey con­duc­ted by Gal­lup in April, 47 per­cent of re­spond­ents cited eco­nom­ic woes as the most press­ing prob­lem fa­cing the U.S., while only 1 per­cent chose the en­vir­on­ment and air pol­lu­tion.

Yet Nex­t­Gen has nev­er­the­less in­sisted that talk­ing about cli­mate change can drive voter turnout. The green group’s mis­sion state­ment is to bring “cli­mate change to the fore­front of Amer­ic­an polit­ics.”

Nex­t­Gen an­nounced in May that it would sup­port four pro-en­vir­on­ment, Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate can­did­ates in com­pet­it­ive races in Col­or­ado, Iowa, Michigan, and New Hamp­shire as well as Demo­crat­ic gubernat­ori­al can­did­ates in Flor­ida, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

Don’t ex­pect Nex­t­Gen to stray too far, however. The ad is the first in a series of tele­vi­sion spots that will link Ernst to the oil in­dustry and claim that the can­did­ate would cut sup­port for thou­sands of clean-en­ergy jobs in Iowa if she wins her elec­tion.

“We’re high­light­ing the fact that Ernst is in the pock­et of big oil and spe­cial in­terests — the same crowd that’s fight­ing good-pay­ing re­new­able jobs and doesn’t be­lieve we need to take ac­tion on cli­mate change,” a spokes­per­son for Nex­t­Gen said when asked wheth­er the ad spelled a change in strategy.

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