New Hampshire Candidates Quiet on Climate and Clean Energy

What if you spent months organizing a forum to allow voters to quiz their congressional candidates directly about climate legislation, energy policy and green jobs—and none of the six invited candidates bothered to show up? If you’re chairman of the New Hampshire Carbon Action Alliance, you don’t punt. Instead, you forge ahead with Plan B. “We were confident that at the very least we could get one or two candidates to show up,” a disappointed but resilient Farrell Seiler told SolveClimate News in a post-forum interview. “I was after them and after them up until the last minute. Our goal was to let them know that these topics matter. My concern is that candidates aren’t paying attention to these vital environmental issues.” Even just one candidate for Congress or the U.S. Senate appearing would have led to an overflow crowd at the Wednesday gathering, Seiler emphasized. As it was, however, about 30 New Englanders trekked to a downtown hotel in Manchester—the Granite State’s largest city—to hear a revised forum agenda that featured New Hampshire-centric talks about public perceptions of climate change, threats posed by global warming and the status of renewable energy. But lack of candidate turnout at an environmental debate is evidently par for the campaign course nationwide in an election year when the “tea party” movement has incumbents on edge, conservative voters are energized, Republicans are benefitting from oodles of advertising dollars from undisclosed sources and a Democrat can barely utter the phrase “cap and trade” without being drowned out with a counter chant of “cap and tax.” Candidates are treading gingerly during these tricky times, says Andy Smith, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, where he directs the UNH Survey Center. “Democrats are trying to appear as moderate as possible, so that’s why they want to stay away from an environmental forum,” Smith said in an interview. “On the Republican side, they’re not going to do anything to alienate voters who are really motivated. Conservative Republicans are really animated this year. “Environmental issues can work in a year when there are no economic issues,” he continued. “Otherwise, they are seen as boutique issues. And that’s not unique to New Hampshire. When the economy is bad, you have to talk about what you’re going to do about jobs.” Climate Denier Leading N.H. Senate Race Any other year, an energy-issues forum would be a natural fit for Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes. Not only did he vote “yes” for the American Clean Energy and Security Act that the House approved in 2009 but his Web site lays out a succinct six-page plan explaining how clean energy technology can create jobs in New Hampshire and nationwide. The document praises the state’s renewable electricity standard of 23.8 percent by 2025 and calls for a national RES. In addition, the white paper details not only how the country can invest in clean energy entrepreneurship and spur energy efficiency, but also spells out which programs to cut to provide the funding. But Hodes is up against a formidable challenger,Republican Kelly Ayotte, in his attempt to fill the seat being vacated by the popular three-term GOP Sen. Judd Gregg. The nonpartisan and independent Cook Political Report has the Senate race leaning Republican. Most political handicappers give the nod to former state attorney general Ayotte—one local poll shows she has a 15-point lead—and word on the street is that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled its funding for Hodes. ((24 OCT 2010))
























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