NRDC Action Fund and LCV Combine Forces to Represent the Public Interest in Politics

Co-authored by Gene Karpinksi

Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time. It pummels our communities with extreme weather, endangers our health, and undermines our economy with costly damages. Americans have said in poll after poll -- in red states and blue -- that they want strong action to defuse the climate threat.

Yet fossil fuels companies fight hard to drown out our voices. They spend millions of dollars to block Congressional action to rein in dangerous carbon pollution and confront the climate crisis. These efforts serve fossil fuel interests. But they don't help the American people who have to breathe the dirty air and cope with the changing climate.

Now there is a new force representing the public interest in politics. The NRDC Action Fund and League of Conservation Voters have launched LeadingGreen to stand up for all those who want the next generation to have a cleaner, safer world in which to live.

We already have the policies in hand. We already have the support of the American people. We already have a president who is committed to reducing carbon pollution. Now the LeadingGreen initiative will help build the political will for legislative action.

It will strengthen our ability to win the game where it is being played -- in Washington, D.C., in districts, and in statehouses around the country. This is where the nation's energy and climate future will be decided, and we want to be on the field leading the charge. Together, we will expand the environmental majority across both parties.

We will help elect environmental champions who are willing to tackle climate change and help protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Both our organizations have had success with this in the past. In the 2012 cycle, we supported environmental allies, including Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). Oil, gas, and coal companies and their allies spent more than $20 million to defeat Senator Brown, but still he prevailed, in part because he ran on his record of supporting renewable energy and environmental protections.

The LeadingGreen initiative will enable us to defend our champions in Congress and ensure more get elected. With NRDC Action Fund PAC support, we will expand LCV Action Fund's existing GiveGreen program with a goal of raising or contributing $5 million in 2014 for environmental champions.

The LeadingGreen alliance will also deepen our advocacy by mobilizing prominent leaders in business, research, and politics who are committed to addressing climate change. We will bring these leaders together around our shared goal of spurring climate action. Many of them have long-standing relationships with lawmakers and can convey the urgent need to reduce dangerous pollution.

And when it really counts -- when a vote arises to block the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting carbon pollution or to extend incentives for wind power -- then our network can identify which lawmakers are wavering. And our ambassadors can reach out to Members they know and persuade them to vote for clean energy and climate action.

We may never match the dollars of the fossil fuel lobby, which includes some of the richest corporations in the world. But we have a significant advantage: a vision shared by a strong majority of Americans that it is our duty to leave future generations with a better world.

More than two-thirds of voters in battleground states say the EPA should limit carbon pollution from power plants, according to a recent poll conducted by Harstad Strategic Research for the NRDC Action Fund. A Gallup poll found that more than 70 percent of Americans think we should place more emphasis on developing wind and solar power.

The vision of a cleaner, more sustainable future is a powerful force. Fossil fuel companies spent heavily in the 2012 elections. Despite that massive investment, Americans swept clean energy and environmental champions into office around the nation.

That hasn't deterred the polluters; they have already invested heavily in the midterm elections. But with the future of our planet hanging in the balance, LeadingGreen will be ready to fight for the public's interest and to amplify the call for clean energy and climate action.