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2014 climate battlefield will pit billionaires against coal states

Coal burning
Coal burning
Fair Use

While key GOP members and deep-pocketed special interest groups initiate renewed attacks on Obamacare, 2014 midterm elections are also shaping up to be critical for the success or failure of President Barack Obama’s climate plan.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is facing a precarious re-election against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The embattled McConnell, who has struggled in popularity in his own party and the polls, has already signaled his plan of attack on Grimes, which is to connect her with another Republican-fabricated war; this one dubbed the “war on coal,” which accuses Obama of using the Environmental Protection Agency to cripple the use of coal, threatening American jobs.

“Across Kentucky, thousands of coal jobs are disappearing. Obama's war on coal is hurting whole families and communities. But Obama says he needs more allies in Congress to finish forcing his liberal agenda on our country. That's why here in Kentucky Obama's supporting Alison Grimes,” says McConnell’s super-PAC ad.

However, according to a Friday report in The Hill, the EPA is simply paving the way for new coal-powered plants to operate with carbon-capture technology to prevent C02 emissions from polluting the air, known as carbon capture and sequestration (CSS).

Nonetheless, conservative politicians and industry business groups complain the technology is too costly, without any regard to the price future generations will pay for pumping unfettered tons of dirty carbon into the environment.

“EPA expects that this amendment will substantially reduce the uncertainty associated with identifying these CO2 streams under RCRA subtitle C, and will also facilitate the deployment of (geologic sequestration) by providing additional regulatory certainty,” the 58-page rule states.

But environmentalists say coal mining and mountain top extraction is irresponsible. At any given moment, coal seam fires continue to be a risk and can burn for decades. Health hazards associated with toxic coal pollution, including transportation in open rail cars, are well-established, with negative economic, social and ecological impacts.

On the campaign front, the American Energy Alliance is already running ads against Democrats, who support taxing carbon in an effort to influence dozens of races in coal country and Gulf Coast states where more offshore drilling is planned.

But the duplicitous ads won’t go unanswered, because activists with deep pockets of their own, like former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, will be on the counterattack.

Steyer’s New Year’s resolution is to educate 2014 voters on the risks of climate change and make it a vital issue during the midterm elections.

“This election year, more than ever, we must hold our leaders responsible for the role they play in the fight against climate change,” he wrote on his NextGen climate website called

In addition, the powerful Sierra Club plans to mobilize more than 2 million voters by highlighting where candidates stand on energy issues.

“Americans widely support climate solutions like accelerating job-creating wind and solar energy growth, tackling dangerous carbon pollution from dirty power plants, securing strong strangers to protect our air and water, and protecting our public lands from destructive drilling and mining — we will help ensure the contrasts between candidates on these issues are clear,” Sierra Club Director Michael Brune wrote in an email to The Hill.

Green billionaires, like Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and Mark Zuckerberg, combined with the influence of environmental activist groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, are prepared to counter the influence bought and paid for by the likes of ultraconservative Koch brothers and their funded lobbyists.

The League of Conservation voters spent $15 million to get candidates elected in 2012 and $1.7 million on Virginia’s gubernatorial race to get Terry McAuliffe elected, which included the first “climate denier” ad used against Jeff Gohringer.

Meanwhile, climate deniers in Congress, many representing oil and coal states, continue their misinformation campaign on global warming, which generates anomalous weather events like the arctic blast that is currently gripping northeastern states for the second time in recent weeks.

GOP opponents claim the midterm election can be summed up in simple terms regarding US accountability for reducing C02 emissions: Obama and Democrats want to advance renewable energy to reduce pollution in a responsible way that protects current jobs, while opening up new fields in wind and solar to create thousands of others; while Republicans simply want to fabricate and fund their way into keeping the status quo, environment be damned.

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