Scott Brown can’t seem to make up his mind on climate change. As a US Senator for Massachusetts, fighting for re-election against Elizabeth Warren in 2012 (she eventually beat him), Brown acknowledged that climate change was partly due to human activity. Once defeated, he crossed the border to New Hampshire to try for Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s seat and changed his mind. At a Republican primary debate in August, Brown denied that climate change had human causes. Was he trying to appeal to conservative Republican primary voters? After winning that party’s nomination, Brown switched once more. Debating Shaheen on October 6, he went back to his earlier position that human activities contribute to climate change.
What Brown appears to stand for in the climate debate is his own political career. Worse, according to the Huffington Post, he’s willing to obstruct progress to enhance that career. Brown called Republican Senators last May asking them to keep the bipartisan Shaheen-Portman energy bill from coming to a Senate vote. (To her credit, NH Senator Kelly Ayotte voted to end the filibuster against Shaheen-Porter.)
The bill encourages commercial and residential energy efficiency and would create thousands of jobs. It has both Republican and Democratic sponsors. This is a moderate bill supported by the US Chamber of Commerce. But according to Huffington, Brown wanted the bill to fail in order to deny Shaheen an accomplishment that could matter in the campaign. Brown was not the only Republican to play politics with the bill, but if the Huffington article is correct, he’s partly responsible for keeping it bottled up without a vote.
Shaheen-Portman is an important bill and deserves our support. New Hampshire voters should be too smart to put up with Brown’s games.
Whether you worry more about the environment or the economy, reducing fossil use here in New Hampshire matters a lot. It’s time to ask local political candidates what they plan to do about it.
Most people now recognize that build-up of CO2 from fossil fuels in the atmosphere disrupts our seasons, endangers wildlife, threatens farm crops, and increases dangerous storms.
But excessive fossil fuel use is a drag on our economy, too. No longer does feisty little New Hampshire put Massachusetts to shame by sprinting out ahead. In recovery from the Great Recession, it’s our flatland neighbor to the south that leads the way. New Hampshire has yet to regain all the jobs lost since 2008, compared to Massachusetts which has surged 3% ahead of 2008.
Does fossil fuel use play a role? Think about it. In its latest state rankings, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked New Hampshire behind every other New England state in energy efficiency policy. Massachusetts? Number One in the nation. In a region where energy prices are a real burden, reducing fossil fuel expenses really matters.
Fortunately, the NH Office of Energy and Planning has just released a new state energy strategy. It is full of policy recommendations for encouraging energy efficiency as well renewable energy, grid modernization, and transportation upgrades. The plan is the product of a year of efforts by many stakeholders. A few of recommendations are troubling, including increased use of CO2-emitting natural gas. (Look what that switch is doing to projected electric rates this winter.) But on the whole the plan is an important roadmap for state policy makers.
So when you talk to state and local candidates this election season, ask them if they support the state’s new energy plan. Now, if they’d just get the 2009 state climate plan off the shelf, too.