Earth '06 An Election Guide

(Because the planet really is in the balance)

Pennsylvania Senate
A hot-button Republican insists he has a green side
Facing a room of 400 green activists at a dinner in early June, Republican Senator Rick Santorum called himself a “practical environmentalist.” Environmental groups, which have placed Santorum on their November hit-list, aren’t buying it. In 2005, Santorum voted against tightening the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s mercury-emission rates for power plants and against a resolution that gave global warming official Senate recognition as a real threat. Santorum’s opponent, State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr.—endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters—opposes oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and supports the EPA’s Superfund program, which taxes polluting companies to clean up industrial sites. Environmentalists hope the green ally will replace the high-ranking Senator.

Missouri Senate
A fresh face hopes to convince Missouri voters that Washington needs new energy
Green causes have never been at the forefront of Missouri elections, which may be why Senator Jim Talent got through the Senate door in a special 2002 election. Talent supports oil drilling in ANWR and says he can’t understand why anyone would want to “cut its own country off from oil.” His opponent, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, is using high gas prices to spotlight the incumbent’s hefty campaign contributions from oil companies. McCaskill advocates clean energy and says global warming is threatening Missouri sportsmen’s way of life.

Montana Senate

Can a family farmer convince Montanans that their landscape is at risk?
When it comes to global warming, Montana Senator Conrad Burns knows where he stands: “Do you remember the Ice Age? It’s been warming ever since, and there ain’t anything we can do to stop it,” he said last May. So when it comes to energy policy, Burns wants Montana to mine more coal and build more oil refineries. Meanwhile, Democratic State Senate President Jon Tester says that if he’s elected, his energy policies will concentrate on renewable energy. He’s courting rural voters by stressing preserving clean lands to hunt, fish, and camp, and not selling them to oil companies and developers. Burns recently proposed legislation to protect the Rocky Mountain Front from new oil and gas leases, but Tester says it’s too little, too late, pointing out that oil companies have contributed nearly $500,000 to Burns over the course of his 18-year Senate career.

New Mexico 1st Congressional District
One lawyer’s battle against the EPA prepares her to race against an industrious incumbent
Enviros love New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid: She, along with other state attorneys general, has twice sued the EPA over lax enforcement of anti-pollution laws. Now Madrid is taking on Republican incumbent Heather Wilson, a loyal foot-soldier in the House’s GOP anti-environmental crusade. A member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the subcommittee on the Environment and Hazardous Materials, and the subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, Wilson voted to open ANWR to oil drilling this year and pushed the GOP energy bill last year. Facing the toughest challenge in her four terms, Wilson points out that she has helped to protect public lands such as the Ojito Wilderness and Valles Caldera in New Mexico.

Minnesota Senate
Two candidates fight to fill a vacant Senate spot
Three-term GOP representative Mark Kennedy has voted for legislation undercutting the landmark Endangered Species Act of 1973, supported George W. Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative of 2003 (which encourages logging), and voted “yes” to the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2006 (which makes it easier for states to open their ocean waters to oil drilling). Now, Kennedy hopes to fill the Senate vacancy caused by the retirement of Minnesota Democrat Mark Dayton. But Kennedy’s voting record has earned the ire of environmental groups, and the League of Conservation Voters is stumping for Kennedy’s opponent, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar. Greens like Klobuchar’s plan for energy independence: In a 2005 speech, Klobuchar argued that global warming gave the U.S. an opportunity to move away from dependence on fossil fuels. Klobuchar also supports initiatives to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and tax incentives for purchasers of hybrid cars.

Nevada 3rd Congressional District

A novice pol eyes an incumbent Republican’s seat
Twenty-nine-year-old Tessa Hafen, former press secretary for Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada, is challenging Republican Jon Porter, a two-term incumbent. On environmental issues, the choice is clear: Porter supported drilling in ANWR and weakening the Endangered Species Act of 1973, while Hafen says she wants to take advantage of Nevada’s abundant solar-, wind-, and geothermal-energy sources to help solve America’s energy crisis. As Nevada faces the possibility of a nuclear-waste site at Yucca Mountain, Hafen criticizes Porter for not taking a strong stand against the dump.

Connecticut 5th Congressional District
A green Republican hopes to fend off a young Democrat
Seeking her 13th House term, 71-year-old Republican Nancy Johnson faces a tough challenge from 32 - year -old State Senator Christopher Murphy. Johnson’s one of a small House coalition of green Republicans: She’s worked on land preservation issues and pushed for a ban on oil drilling in ANWR. But Murphy, an Environmental Committee member in the state senate, isn’t letting Johnson take all the green glory. On Earth Day, he blasted Johnson’s environmental voting record, saying it was the worst in the Connecticut delegation. But environmental groups, such as the League of Conservation Voters, are sticking with Johnson.

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Issue 25

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