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New Report by Top Senators Details Financial Ties Between Fossil Fuel Industry and Clean Power Plan Opponents

Rolls of hundred dollar bills.

On September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in a major challenge to the Clean Power Plan, West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — an enormously high-stakes legal battle, that could determine whether Obama's climate plan is ever put into effect.

The stakes are high not only for the environment, but for fossil fuel companies — and those companies have poured enormous sums of money into efforts that would help ensure the Clean Power Plan never goes into effect, according to a report issued this week by four members of Congress.

Hillary Clinton Is Raking In Fossil Fuel Money At An Alarming Rate

In speeches and press conferences, and occasionally in policy, the Democratic Party in the United States has always claimed the high ground on the issue of climate change and the need to move the country off oil, gas and coal towards renewable energy. As a result, the fossil fuel industry has heavily backed Republican politicians for decades.

But the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has once again proven unique by every measure. A new report by The Wall Street Journal shows that Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pulling in far more money from the fossil fuel industry than her Republican opponent Donald Trump.

The report shows that, through July, Hillary Clinton has received almost three times as much campaign cash from fossil fuel employees than Trump, to the tune of about $525,000 compared to Trump’s $149,000. Her joint account with the Democratic National Committee has also received an additional $650,000 from fossil fuel executives and employees.

Koch-Funded Groups Slapped With Fines By Federal Election Commission

Charles and David Koch, the nefarious Koch Brothers, have vowed to spend as much as $889 million on the 2016 elections in the United States. This money will be funneled through a massive network of faux grassroots organizations, lobbyists, and direct candidate donations. This $889 million is the single largest sum ever committed by individuals, meaning that Charles and David will have more financial sway over the 2016 elections than any other individual, or group, in the history of American politics.

Of course, the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions, if not billions, on political activities in recent years, and their seemingly unlimited spending finally drew the ire of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This week it was announced that three Koch-linked groups are being fined a combined total of $233,000 for violating campaign finance laws by concealing the sources of their funds. The three groups are the American Future Fund, 60 Plus Association and Americans for Job Security.

The New Attack On Climate Scientists: Drain Their Funds With Frivolous Lawsuits

The average cost to hire an attorney in the United States is around $300 per hour. The average lawsuit, not including class action or mass tort cases, takes between one and two years to reach a conclusion. These financial and time-related costs quickly become a huge burden for anyone on the receiving end of a subpoena, and that’s why climate change denial groups are using the court system as a means to put the brakes on the work of climate scientists.

Leading the way in this new attack is the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E), a climate science denial organization that receives funding from fossil fuel companies like Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources, according to The Guardian.

Recently, the group filed a lawsuit in Arizona to get their hands on thousands of emails between climate scientists, with this particular lawsuit focused on the emails sent by Dr. Malcolm Hughes from the University of Arizona and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, the lead author of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The lawsuit is seeking 6 years of Dr. Hughes’ emails and 13 years of Dr. Overpeck’s emails.

Republican Climate Activist Funding Environmentally Conscious Conservatives

For too long, climate change has been a partisan issue in American politics. In spite of the overwhelming scientific data about the role that human beings have played in the warming of the planet, the Republican Party of the United States has consistently refused to acknowledge the scientific consensus, and even their presumptive nominee for the presidency this year has outright denied the existence of climate change and repeatedly referred to it as a “hoax.”

But here’s where things get interesting: The Republican denial of climate change is far more prevalent in elected Republicans than average conservative voters. In fact, the latest round of polling shows that close to half of Republican voters accept the scientific consensus on climate change, which is an increase of nearly 20% over the last 2 years on this issue. So there is obviously a sharp divide between the views of the voters and the views of Republican politicians.

Has The Fracking Industry Already Won The 2016 Election?

June has been a fantastic month for the fracking industry.

On June 21st, a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department does not have the authority to regulate fracking on federal lands because the agency lacks the overall authority to regulate fracking. The judge said that his decision was based on the fact that Congress had not given the agency that power, and therefore they overstepped their authority in attempting to regulate natural gas fracking activities.

A few days after that court ruling that gave the industry free rein over our federal lands, the Democratic Party handed them an even larger gift. At a DNC platform committee meeting on Friday, June 24th, the committee voted to NOT include a ban on fracking as part of the Democratic Party’s platform for the 2016 election.

The moratorium on fracking was proposed by 350.org founder Bill McKibben who was selected to join the Party’s platform committee by Senator Bernie Sanders. McKibben also introduced resolutions to support a carbon tax and prohibit new fossil fuel leases offshore and on federal lands, but these items were also nixed by a majority of the committee members.

The decision by the committee to roll over for the fracking industry is not only dangerous for the environment, but it also goes against the will of voters who identify as Democrats.

Democratic Senator Believes His Party “In Denial” About Fossil Fuel Importance

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has always been at odds with the majority of his fellow Democrats in terms of environmental protection, but his statements a few weeks ago show that he might have actually become an enemy to the environment.
 
In early April, Manchin told The Wall Street Journal that while Republicans have plenty of “deniers” on their side who refuse to admit that climate change is real, the Democratic Party has plenty of “deniers”, too. According to Manchin, those “deniers” are the ones who believe that the United States can move to a fossil fuel-free society.
 
In his own words:  “Even worse than that, we have deniers that believe we’re going to run this country or run this world without fossil…That’s a worse denier, thinking they’re just going to just shift it and everything’s going to be hunky-dory.”

Hillary Clinton Suddenly Backs Off Her Strongest Environmental Proposal

The biggest criticism lobbed at President Obama from the environmental movement is that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. While he has always accepted that climate change is real and needs to be addressed, his proposals have always been countered by some sort of gift to the fossil fuel industry — leasing new lands for offshore drilling, expanding coal leases, increasing domestic oil exploration, lifting the crude oil export ban, etc.
 
So last November, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she would do away with the coal industry if elected president, environmentally conscious voters applauded her actions. Her proposal was broad, ambitious, and would have made a serious impact on the amount of carbon that the United States was producing while at the same time protecting both the economy and the environment.

Where Do The Remaining Presidential Candidates Stand On Climate Issues?

We are now officially through half of the United States Presidential election primary and caucus season, and there are currently 5 contenders left in the Republican and Democratic parties vying for their party’s respective nomination. Delegate math shows that Governor John Kasich has no chance to become the Republican nominee, so we’re left with four real candidates to examine.
 
The differences between the candidates of the two major parties could not be greater. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates who proudly embrace science and agree that action on climate issues is sorely needed. On the Republican side, both of the remaining candidates reject the scientific consensus and instead argue that climate change is nothing more than a series of unfortunate weather events.
 
It is important to remember that acceptance of climate science is not necessarily limited to one political party. Recent polls show that majorities of voters within both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as Independent voters) accept that climate change is real and that human activity is a contributing factor. The discrepancy between the desires of voters and the views of the candidates can best be seen in the contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which will be described in detail later.
 
As for the candidates remaining in the race, only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump lacks a record to verify his statements on climate change. But judging on his statements alone, he will not be a friend to the environment if he secures the nomination and subsequently wins the White House.

Congress Is Infected With Climate Change Deniers, But Their Constituents Understand The Dangers

Here’s an inconvenient truth for the fossil fuel industry: The majority of Americans accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real and that it is a threat that must be addressed. This includes a majority of Democrats, a majority of Republicans, and a majority of citizens who do not identify with a specific political party.
 
But here’s a sad truth for Americans who believe in science: The majority of members of the ruling GOP party in Washington, D.C. refuse to accept the science that climate change is happening and that human beings are to blame.
 
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 59% of the House Republican caucus and 70% of Senate Republicans refuse to accept the reality of climate change. This means there are a total of 182 climate change deniers in the House and Senate who collectively represent more than 200 million American citizens (based on their district/state size that they represent in Congress.)

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