Is Your Local Lawmaker A 'Fossil Fool?' Sierra Club Targets Environmental Foes In Midterms

Candidates who side with polluters against the environment are marked for defeat in November's elections.

The Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest environmental group, is targeting nearly a dozen lawmakers it wants to defeat in November’s midterm elections in order to help elect candidates working to address climate change and other green interests.

The group launched a new campaign on Tuesday in which it labeled 10 congressional candidates “Fossil Fools” for supporting the oil and gas industry with a simple message: “We have an opportunity to send them home.”

“Everything we’ve worked for decades is under assault by this administration, there is no check and no accountability coming from Congress,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a phone interview. “Whether it’s our clean air or our clean water that Americans want to see protected, or whether its our progress on climate change ― our values are under assault from coast to coast.”

The campaign is targeting Republicans running in several highly contested races, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (who once said climate change was “not science,” but a “religion.”) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) (who’s taken more than $577,000 in contributions from the energy industry). The Sierra Club also singled out Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is attempting to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

In the House of Representatives, the group has targeted several high-profile lawmakers, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).

“Each of our Fossil Fools has earned that title,” Brune said, pointing to Scott’s 2015 efforts to ban the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from official communications.

Climate change has become a rallying cry for many of the progressive Democrats running for office in the midterms, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won a stunning primary victory over powerful Rep. Joe Crowley (D) in New York earlier this year. Many progressive challengers have touted the platform proudly, Brune said, in an effort to push back against President Donald Trump and tap into anger over the Trump government’s repeated efforts to loosen environmental protections.

The League of Conservation Voters noted earlier this month that more than 1,400 candidates for public office were running on a platform of 100-percent clean energy by 2050. Brune said that just a few years ago, that number was closer to five.

The White House has reversed many Obama-era decisions in its first two years, withdrawing from the landmark Paris climate agreement and scrapping pollution regulations. 

The Sierra Club said rising anti-Trump anger has been a boon for the group, which now has more than 3.5 million members.

“A big part of my function at the Sierra Club is to inspire people that they can make a difference and to remind people that across not just our own country’s history, but across the planet, when people work together and set aside their differences and set big goals, they almost always succeed,” Brune said.

He continued: “I think a big part of what is needed in this time is simply a reminder that we’re powerful as people and to not give up hope that someday reason and decency will prevail.”