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This time, it's TransCanada of "our pipelines never leak except when they do" fame, and it's a natural gas pipeline.

500 people have been evacuated in rural Berrien County. The noise sounded like a tornado. The gas line rupture on a large main line destroyed trees and sent debris flying hundreds of feet in the air. A potato farmer's crops have been ruined.

Oh, and TransCanada is sorry for the inconvenience.

The last time Big Oil spilled in Fred Upton's district, it was the Kalamazoo River. Upton sent out press releases demanding answers for about a week, then shrugged and went right back to doing what he does best - representing Big Oil in Congress.

This time, Berrien County deserves better answers and better representation. Climate Hawks Vote has endorsed Upton's opponent, Paul Clements, who wants to bring clean energy jobs - not hazmat/first responder jobs! - to southwest Michigan. Yesterday, our organizer registered two voters; today, people are angry, and they want Upton gone. Clements is Upton's best challenger in years. Can you chip in to help our organizing on the ground, and to help vote Fred Upton out of office?

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Climate Hawks Vote announces endorsements of two Michigan Democrats: Paul Clements for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth District, and Gary Peters for Senate, because the Koch brothers and Big Oil need to stop using Michigan’s shores as a dumping ground for their pollution and Michigan’s politicians for their agenda.

kzoo peregrines CHVPaul Clements is challenging none other than Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee - these days, the House Big Oil Lackey Committee. As the face of Big Oil, Upton has been named the number one enemy of the earth. It’s into his pockets that Big Oil money goes - he’s among the top recipients of money from the oil, gas, and coal-fired electric utility industry. And when Big Oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River, Upton demanded answers for about a week, then went back to business as usual, pushing bills to gut the EPA.

Voting out Fred Upton piqued our interest… but Climate Hawks Vote won’t get involved in a race between a horrible Republican and a mediocre Democrat (we won’t name names, but our scorecard will). Luckily for the voters of southwestern Michigan, Paul Clements is a true climate champion. “Climate change is the greatest threat to Michigan and to the world in the 21st century,” he says.

We wouldn’t be endorsing if we didn’t think Clements has a chance; he’s considered to be Upton’s toughest challenger in years, and anything can happen to entrenched incumbents in a year in which Eric Cantor lost. The district begins as R+1, i.e. a very slight Republican edge that can be beaten by smart Democratic campaigning. Clements has doubled prior Democratic challengers' fundraising, and has a hard-hitting new ad calling out Upton for failing to create cleantech jobs. And he has a message for moderate voters of all parties: formerly moderate Upton changed when he became chair of the Energy & Commerce committee. He's out of touch with the district.

We’re also endorsing Gary Peters, running against Terri Lynn Land in an open seat for Senate. Like Clements, Peters is explicitly running on climate change and the effect it’s having on the Great Lakes. Peters fought the Koch Industries-created piles of petcoke in Detroit, and he’s been carrying a bill to boost electric vehicles - a classic made-in-Michigan solution to climate change.  

Michigan Dems 9-5-2014As before, we’re backing up our endorsement with talons, er, boots on the ground for Peters + Clements voters. Our on-the-ground organizers helped Brian Schatz close the deal in the Hawaii Senate primary, and we helped Ruben Gallego defeat a coal-funded opponent in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District. We're beginning with a voter registration event in Benton Harbor, Berrien County. We aim to win in Michigan.

Organizer Samantha with a friend and our endorsed candidates Paul Clements and Gary Peters

Obligatory request: help us win - every $5 counts.

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Susan Collins is generally considered to be a moderate Republican, especially on environmental issues. But just how good is she? If she were a Democrat in the House, she'd be the seventh worst Democrat on climate - better than Nick Rahall and a few members of the CoalBlue caucus. Climate Hawks Vote has crunched the numbers, and Collins' leadership score on climate is -13 on a scale of +100 to -100.

Yep, minus 13 is what passes for Republican leadership on climate.

Briefly, the Climate Hawks Vote scorecard seeks to measure leadership - not just votes - on climate. We look at six factors - public engagement , bills authored, bills cosponsored, press releases, caucuses, and website - to gauge who's leading on climate and who's not. The scorecard covers all House Democrats so far, and it's tough - the average score is +23. While working on one for Senate Democrats, we've decided to include a handful of Senate Republicans who might be considered moderate on climate, including Susan Collins. And her score is shockingly low.

Here's the details.

We weight public engagement far more than any other factor. Speeches on the Senate floor, roundtables with fishermen concerned about ocean acidification, a photo-op at a new wind farm in the district - all of those would give Collins a positive score, if she did any. But she hasn't. It's so bad that a local alt-weekly asks: Where's Collins on carbon? Instead, she gave a GOP rebuttal speech complaining about EPA overregulation, and Senator Wyden called her out on a Senate floor speech. Her score is -11 (40 points possible).

Collins has authored ten bills scored as climate bills (Climate Hawks Vote scores bills introduced whether or not they're up for votes) since the beginning of the 112th Congress. Five constitute attacks on the EPA, such as S. 1538, the Regulatory Time-Out Act of 2011 seeking a one-year delay on EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases and the CURB Act (S. 602 in the 112th Congress, S. 1730 in the 113th Congress) requiring all "major regulations" (DC-speak for, mostly, EPA rules) to be tracked and attacked. Five are scored positively, including two to create a mercury database, two on clean cookstoves, and one on energy efficient schools. But because Collins' bad bills are core and her good bills less important, Collins ends up with a score of -8 (20 points possible) on this item.

Collins has also cosponsored ten bills, so far, scored by Climate Hawks Vote as climate bills. Again, her record is mixed - she's supported one of the many "build Keystone XL pipeline now" bills, but also some energy efficiency bills. She ends up with a net +1 (10 points possible).

Collins has put out 19 press releases scored by Climate Hawks Vote. Some are positive, such as her praise for clean cookstoves (more on that below), offshore wind, and the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. But her very mixed record is, perhaps, epitomized by this press release in which she blasts Senator Mitch McConnell for wanting a permanent moratorium on greenhouse gas regulations, while at the same time demanding a two year moratorium on the exact same greenhouse gas regulations! All of the positive and negative press releases cancel each other out, so her score ends up as a zero (10 points possible).

Collins hasn't joined the Climate Action Task Force or any other internal work group (10 points possible).

Her website acknowledges that climate change exists, but doesn't tout solutions, so she scores +5 (10 points possible). Total score: -13, which puts her above Nick "All Coal, All The Time" Rahall and John Barrow of Georgia, but below retiring Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and oil-drenched Henry "Must Be Primaried" Cuellar of Texas. By comparison, Chellie Pingeree and Mike Michaud, representing Maine's First and Second Congressional Districts respectively, score +54 and +25.

Oh, about those cookstoves? The idea is to provide developing nations with clean cookstoves that don't spew soot, aka the super-pollutant black carbon. But there's a cookstove manufacturer in Gorham, Maine that's vocally upset about EPA emission standards, and Collins acknowledges seeking the views of a Maine woodstove manufacturer before writing a letter to the EPA on those same standards. So the cookstove bill looks to be as much product placement for a local business as it is a climate bill.

MESen CHVIn short, Collins acknowledges that climate change is real, which puts her light years ahead of most Republicans in Congress; but far from proposing credible solutions, her actions range from policy homeopathy to delay to active hindrance. If she were a Democrat, she'd be in the very bottom tier. National environmental groups don't blindly support all Democrats just because they play on the blue team. But apparently some national environmental groups support Collins just because she's a Republican.

Collins' delay-and-dither approach is flat out wrong. Maine, faced with ocean acidification and warming seas affecting its iconic lobster harvest, deserves better. Support for business-as-usual politicians like Collins, and her many counterparts on the Democratic Party side, is tantamount to acceptance of a business-as-usual carbon emissions trajectory.

I co-founded Climate Hawks Vote to elevate the voices of those few leaders who see the climate crisis as a priority. Shenna Bellows has earned our endorsement. She will seek limits on carbon emissions. She opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. And - unlike Collins - she’s taken a firm stand on an issue important to Maine voters and the larger climate community: she’s opposed the proposed Portland Montreal Pipeline Reversal, a plan to re-engineer an existing pipeline to carry carbon-intensive tarsands from Canada to Portland, Maine and then to the global marketplace. Read more on the Climate Hawks Vote endorsement of Shenna Bellows on our website.

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Ruben Gallego, running in a heated primary in central Phoenix's AZ-07, tried to talk climate change with the paper of record in Phoenix:

He recalled that during a recent meeting with the Arizona Republic's editorial board, he raised the issue of energy policy but was told the newspaper wasn't interested in discussing it.

"We have the Navajo Generating Station right there up north, we have Palo Verde [Nuclear Generating Station], one of the biggest nuclear power plants in the state, we have a lot of coal generated up at the Four Corners area, and the biggest newspaper didn't even want to have a conversation about that," Gallego asserted.

The editors' response? They call the race a battle of personalities (warning: autoplay video).

This is horserace journalism at its utter worst. Ed Pastor is retiring after two decades of quietly representing the district, and suddenly the primary is one of the hottest races in the state. Voters deserve to know the issues. Wilcox FECThe Arizona Republic hasn't covered the secret sweetheart deal between coal-funded Mary Rose Wilcox and shrouded-in-dark-money APS. Nor has it covered the electric utility contributions to Wilcox.

After all, it's not like climate change matters to Phoenix voters Phoenix may not survive climate change.

Climate does matter to Ruben Gallego, along with other issues such as immigration reform and income inequality. He's endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote alongside DailyKos, MoveOn, and other progressive groups. And we're holding a Climate Matters rally this Sunday, just in time for the Tuesday primary. Speakers from the political, national security, and business communities will talk why climate matters to voters.

Take action!

In the district: RSVP for the Climate Matters rally this Sunday, August 24 at 1 PM at Steele Indian School Park

Gallego Rally v2-page-001

Anywhere: sign this petition to tell the Arizona Republic and other important Phoenix-area papers to cover the candidates' positions on climate change.

And save the date:

Sign up for the People's Climate March in New York City September 21
Discuss

A story about a parking lot is really a story about dark money, secrets, and dirty coal. This, in a long read on Mary Rose Wilcox, is ugly.

Wilcox increased her net worth through land deals, with at least one in 2003 involving an acre purchased from Arizona Public Service for hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value. She didn't disclose that transaction even as she voted as a county supervisor on APS-related projects.
Cholla_power_plantWhat is APS? The largest electric utility in Arizona and 27th largest coal energy producer in the United States has ownership interests in three huge coal-fired power plants: the Cholla Generating Station, the Four Corners Steam Plant, and the Navajo Generating Station. It's a corporate funder of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and sits on its energy, environment, and agriculture task force. APS is notorious for its attack on net metering solar energy, pouring $9 million - or $9 per ratepayer - into an effort to convince regulators that Arizona's precious sunshine is so rare that solar panel owners must pay to access it. Last year APS caught flak for secretly funding a Koch-backed group to run anti-solar ads, after initial denials, and this year it's widely believed to be the dark money behind two pro-coal candidates for the ACC (Arizona's public utilities commission).

More, from the same Phoenix New Times story: in early 2003, downtown power brokers, including APS, began work on a downtown master plan to transform the city's inner core over the next decade. County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox had to be aware of the planning effort. Wilcox FECIt was during this time -- when a limited number of people knew that a major downtown redevelopment plan was in the works -- that APS had sold its property at a rock-bottom price [fair market value $675,000 to $900,000, but sold for $152,750] to Wilcox. "Wilcox repeatedly voted on matters directly affecting APS, including high-profile issues such as where high-voltage power lines will be located and approval of a lucrative plan by an APS subsidiary, Northwind, to provide air conditioning to county buildings in downtown Phoenix. And she did it without ever officially disclosing that she had engaged in a major financial transaction with APS."

Fast forward to 2014, when Wilcox is running in a Democratic primary to replace the retiring Ed Pastor. Wilcox intends to stay on business-as-usual terms with the coal-funded utilities and her secret parking lot. Wilcox FEC2Her politics are the same kind of business as usual that puts the planet on an inexorable path to three to five degrees Celsius warming.

Wilcox FEC3Wilcox has been endorsed by Pastor. Pastor scored a grand total of 3 points (out of 100) on the sophisticated Climate Hawks Vote scorecard measuring leadership on climate, and those three points were achieved by cosponsoring five bills enjoying broad Democratic support. Since 2011, he has never once spoken out once on the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. All indications are that Wilcox will follow in his footsteps, promote business-as-usual politics, and continue her secret toxic dealings with APS while Phoenix suffers.

Gallego hawkLuckily, voters in the 7th District have a better alternative on August 26. Ruben Gallego has been endorsed by MoveOn, DailyKos, Climate Hawks Vote, and other progressive and environmental groups. Gallego will fight for clean energy project such as light rail in the district, and he'll bring a sorely-needed Latino perspective on climate change to Congress. Gallego needs to communicate to voters in this historically low-turnout district that this year they face a meaningful choice. Join us - sign up for emails, donate, or send a kosmail if interested in phonebanking. #VoteClimate - not dirty-business-as-usual - on August 26.

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schatzinpuna CHVColleen Hanabusa is now threatening litigation to keep from definitively losing to Brian Schatz on Friday. Hawaii's Senate primary remains open in two precincts hit hard by Hurricane Iselle on the Big Island of Hawaii's far east tip. The elections office has scheduled this Friday to finish the election and bring closure to the outstanding races.

Nothing sums up the contrast between Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa than this Honolulu Civil Beat story:

On Monday, Schatz was in Nanawale Estates, one of the hardest hit areas in Puna. He refused to talk to the media, instead focusing on delivering goods to residents.

Her [Hanabusa's] campaign would not tell Civil Beat where she was, although spokesman Peter Boylan did release a statement voicing displeasure with the Office of Elections decision to settle the election delay with walk-in voting on Friday.

One candidate does real work for his constituents. The other, from an undisclosed location, complains and threatens lawsuits.

On Friday, those of 8255 voters in two Big Island precincts who haven't already voted will choose between Schatz and Hanabusa. Schatz holds a narrow 1635-vote lead. Mathematics suggests that it'll be hard for Hanabusa to overcome that lead in those two precincts. So do demographics - Puna is home to Punatics and Dennis Kucinich supporters. Hanabusa faces a steep challenge of reaching voters, persuading those on the fence, and getting them to the polls in the next 72 hours; but waiting another week or two isn't going to make her math easier. The Washington Post's headline sums it up: Colleen Hanabusa hasn't lost yet, but she almost certainly will.

Hawaiian hawk CHV VictoryI'm proud to have played a role in helping Brian Schatz garner a 1635 vote lead and, I hope, the nomination. The group that I cofounded, Climate Hawks Vote, hired organizers on the ground to make over 2000 phone calls on behalf of Schatz. We signed up 50 new and mostly young voters over a few days. We hosted debate watch parties, talked up the importance of voting climate at a Honolulu conservation conference, and tweeted and facebooked and social media'd the race. We did all that because Brian Schatz understands that climate change is not just another Democratic political issue, but rather the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. Climate Hawks Vote is focused, like Brian Schatz, on working hard to achieve real results. And we're thrilled that he'll probably be tackling that challenge in the Senate. Colleen Hanabusa needs to stop obstructing elections and give up with some dignity intact.

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iselle Aug 3 CHVThe Hawaiian Islands are facing an unprecedented pair of extreme weather events. Hurricane Iselle is scheduled to hit the Big Island Thursday night, possibly as a weakened tropical storm, possibly a Category 1 hurricane, although the Wunderground models disagree considerably on just how weak it'll be. Following up, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Julio is currently forecast to veer north of the islands Sunday. In any case, Iselle will likely be the first hurricane/tropical storm to make landfall on the islands since Hurricane Iniki devastated Kauai in 1993.

The governor has issued an emergency proclamation. However, I am hearing from sources on the ground that the August 9 primary will not be rescheduled, moved, or extended. The good news: many polling places are also emergency shelters.

Are these hurricanes fueled by climate change? Maybe. Hawaii can certainly expect more hurricanes.

The hurricanes thus act as both a stark deterrent to voting, and a reminder that this Saturday is Hawaii's most important climate-related election in history. Brian Schatz, a fierce climate hawk in the Senate, faces a primary challenge from the right from Colleen Hanabusa, who has sided with polluters and against the Environmental Protection Agency. In the First Congressional District covering Honolulu and environs, the front-runners are DINO Donna Kim, moderate/pro-nuclear-power Mark Takai, and climate hawk Stanley Chang, recently endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America. Schatz and Chang are both endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote. Saturday, Hawaii's voters have a chance to return Brian Schatz to the Senate and send Stanley Chang to Congress... if only Iselle doesn't deter them. #VoteClimate.

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Redding Fire Dept August 2014

"He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."

 --Varys, regarding Littlefinger, in Game of Thrones

He might well have been describing the modern Republican Party. Overlooked among the chaos of last week's border bill fiasco: Republicans rejected aid to fight climate-fueled wildfires, and the social contract frays a bit more.

Tuesday, the House denied President Obama's request for wildfire funding, contained within the border bill, entirely. Obama requested $659 million to deal with an unusually strong wildfire season with an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion. The House's allocation in response: zero. The Hill quotes Hal Rogers: “Although on wildfires, the agencies have a big pile of money already,” Rogers said. “I don’t think there’s an urgency on the money part.”

Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked wildfire aid again, both in the border bill and in a separate standalone bill. President Obama requested $615 million to help fight Western wildfires. Senator John Cornyn R-TX) objected, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded cuts elsewhere, stating that "I also want to make sure our children have a future," and that was the end of that.

The House did manage to find $35 million to beef up border patrols, because what's more scary: refugee children wanting a better life in America or thousands upon thousands of acres burning to a crisp in the tinderbox of drought-stricken California?

And so Congress heads into a scorching hot August recess having done nothing about wildfires ravaging near districts of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and other Western members of the House Appropriations Committee. Yes, the same Kevin McCarthy who bashes Obama's climate agenda while ignoring California's drought.  

Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown declares a state of emergency as more than a dozen major wildfires burn - activity comparable to a normal September.

What's going on here? Is the modern Republican Party now driven by anarchy, the real-life Joker who just wants to watch the world burn? Does raw ambition blind it to the consequences of action - the modern Littlefinger who'd be king of the ashes?

It's easy to snark on the anarchy aspect - I've been using #GOPWantsToWatchTheWorldBurn on twitter - but we're seeing the beginning of a deeper shift. Firefighting should be one of the most basic functions of government, a paradigm example of why citizens organize and tax themselves. Gauis Publius at Americablog writes that the climate crisis will break the social contract: "Nothing like a squabble over scarcity (pretend or otherwise) to tear a society literally apart."

The White House has, quite correctly, connected the dots between the drought-scarred, overheating West and its wildfires. More broadly, Democrats in leadership positions are beginning to make the economic case for action on climate change; Sen. Patty Murray is distributing talking points to her colleagues emphasizing the costs of inaction on disaster relief, among other things. The economic pitch on climate change is simple: spend some now or spend a lot later, with the implied message that the fiscally prudent party prefers choice (a).

Yet protection of the fossil fuel industry is deeply embedded within Republican DNA.

Fossil-fuel-captured Republicans are beating both fiscally conservative Republicans and the social contract. They've gotten fairly good at denying that some effects of climate change are already happening - for example, sea level rise in North Carolina has been legislated out of existence. Admitting that this is a bad year for wildfire would be a tacit admission that they and their donors Exxon and Peabody Coal have lit the match of California. This budget skirmish is the beginning of an ugly spectacle in which Republicans will refuse to spend money on climate change adaptation, even if it means abandoning the social contract of basic government services. So they've skipped town, telling each other that it's all right because the agencies are just "sitting on a big pile of money."

Rather than acknowledge that climate change is worsening Western wildfires and that a core government function is fighting fires, Republicans are telling the West to burn during the August recess so that they can be kings of the ashes in September.

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AZ Harris' Hawk CHVotesIt's a rare chance to elect a climate hawk in the House of Representatives this year in Phoenix, Arizona. Climate Hawks Vote is delighted to endorse Ruben Gallego in Arizona's 7th Congressional District, in a Democratic primary August 26.

Here's the setup. Retiring Rep. Ed Pastor has represented the deep blue district, but he's apparently taken a vow of climate silence - he's scored a grand total of 3 points, out of 100, on our climate leadership scorecard covering Congressional Democrats by cosponsoring a handful of solar bills and otherwise ducking the issue. The front-runners are Iraq war veteran Ruben Gallego and county supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, facing each other (and assorted others) in less than five weeks.

Gallego's announcement focused on climate change and wage disparity: "There really needs to be an argument on these issues, also from a Hispanic perspective," he said. "I think we need Hispanic congressmen and congresswomen to start stepping up and talking about climate change, start talking about a living wage or at least a higher minimum wage, because that directly impacts Latinos here in this country." He opposes both the Keystone pipeline and the Rosemont copper mine, and he wants to bring more solar energy (and jobs!) to the sunny state. Rep. Raul Grijalva, MoveOn, Dolores Huerta, and DailyKos are among his endorsers. And a week after Climate Hawks Vote made its endorsement, League of Conservation Voters joined in.

Meanwhile, his opponent takes coal money but doesn't bother to include an energy/environment page on her website. Best guess: she'll avoid mentioning climate and score in the same range as Pastor. Gallego, on the other hand, can be one of the few chances in 2014 to put a climate champion in the House.

Polls show Gallego leading by a few points, but with a huge percentage of undecideds - in other words, the kind of race where voter contact and turnout make a difference. And that's why we're backing up our endorsement with boots on the ground, just as we're doing in the Hawaii primaries. Please chip in here.

A note for DailyKos folk: I made the decision to endorse at Netroots Nation 2014 after a chance meetup with an Arizona activist (and, of course, independent research) during the hotly debated topic of Netroots Nation 2015 in Phoenix. The Climate Hawks Vote organizer will be working to turn out voters in a district that historically doesn't vote much. Changing Arizona politics is a multi-year, multi-faceted effort. The more people in a deep blue district vote, the more we help turn them into habitual voters...and help turn around the politics of a sometimes-crAZy state.

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A right-wing, undeserving-of-the-label, Democrat-In-Name-Only is in a crowded Democratic primary. To prevent the DINO from being elected, progressives attempt to unify behind one of the several other candidates in the race. Political Science 101 suggests that they unify behind the most progressive alternative who represents the best chance of election.

In Hawaii's deep blue and progressive First Congressional District, they're about to do the opposite: unify behind a DINO-Lite instead of a viable progressive choice.

Donna Kim would be a Republican in many other states; in Hawaii she's a DINO. She opposes marriage equality and minimum wage increases, is way too cozy with Monsanto and its GMO testing, and believes that Hawaii should be granted an exemption from Obamacare. All you need to know can be found at Not Donna Kim. She began the race to replace Colleen Hanabusa as the frontrunner, probably owing to her 30 years in the state legislature.

Hawaii newspapers have anointed Mark Takai as the other, more progressive front-runner in the August 9 primary. Mainstream groups such as the Sierra Club and Human Rights Campaign have endorsed him. But is he actually progressive or just a Kim-Lite?

Hawaiian hawk CHV EndorsementThe Hawaii Sierra Club endorsed Takai, but he accepted an oil industry-funded junket to Azerbaijan. Takai wants to cut Hawaii's dependence on foreign fossil fuels by exploring nuclear power as a viable option.

Takai is way too cozy with Koch-affiliated groups. Hawaii has a Koch-affiliated think tank, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, with a mission to "promote individual liberty, the free market and limited accountable government." Takai calls its new president a dear friend and mentor.

Equality Hawaii endorsed Takai, but he voted no on civil unions twice, only reversing his position after deciding to run for Congress a few months ago.  As recently as 2010 and again in 2012, he stated that he would sign into law a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

And in 2010, he answered yes to this question: "Would you sign into law a bill that would give religious-affiliated healthcare institutions in Hawaii a conscience exemption in laws requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraceptives to sex assault victims?" Can he be trusted to uphold a woman's right to choose in a post-Hobby Lobby era?

"This is not the time to reduce our military strength and presence in Hawaii," he posts on facebook.

Takai's signature domestic policy bill: imposing random drug testing on recipients of public assistance.

The Hawaii Rifle Association notes Takai's supportive record; he's to the right of Donna Kim and Stanley Chang on gun sense.

Really? A Koch-friendly, pro-nuclear power, oil-funded, anti-choice candidate is the progressive alternative to Donna Kim?

Fortunately, Honolulu residents have a genuinely progressive choice. Stanley Chang has been endorsed by People for the American Way and Blue America PAC. He's pledged to join the House Progressive Caucus if elected, so he earned an early endorsement. The GLBT Caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party, which knows a flip-flop when they see one, has endorsed Chang. And my SuperPAC focused on climate, Climate Hawks Vote, has endorsed Brian Schatz and Stanley Chang. His fundraising is within reach of Takai's and Kim's - in the June 30 quarter, Kim raised $201K, Takai $199K, and Chang $145K. Chang's latest ad:

The brutal Schatz-Hanabusa race for the Senate is taking up most of Hawaii's political attention, while voters ignore the sleepy Congressional race. Hawaii has a history of sending politicians to Washington for decades. On August 9, progressive Honolulu voters can do better than either a DINO or a DINO-Lite.

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Hawaiian hawk CHV EndorsementClimate Hawks Vote has issued its first endorsements, both in Hawaii.

Practically the first words Senator Brian Schatz said upon arrival in Washington were: "Climate change is urgent, solveable, human-caused, and real." He's shaken up the Senate by, among other things, organizing the #UpForClimate all-night talkathon. And he told a Netroots Nation 2013 panel the same thing that they heard at Climate Hawks Votes' NN13 off-grid talk the previous day: we need to elect Democrats who will prioritize the climate crisis, not just treat it as yet another Democratic issue.

In short, he's Climate Hawks Votes' prototype politician - a Democrat bringing new energy to Washington, prioritizing the issue, engaging the public, and laying groundwork for bold action on climate.

He's leading on climate while also leading on other issues as well. He's become a Senate champion on protecting and expanding Social Security, gun violence prevention, and similar progressive priorities, and is endorsed by PCCC and MoveOn, among others. Oh, and he's been endorsed by a certain Hawaii-born resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

He's being primaried from the right by Colleen Hanabusa, who voted for HR 2250, one of the many fossil-fuel-powered Republican bills to delay clean air standards.

Please chip in to elect climate hawks in Hawaii and beyond.

Stanley Chang is a Honolulu city councilmember acting locally - leading the charge to ban styrofoam within city limits - and thinking global warming. He's been endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and he literally studied under Elizabeth Warren (she taught his Harvard Law class). He campaigns hard and his fundraising is excellent. He has a very solid grasp of climate science and how it affects Oahu. And he's putting climate on his website, which matters - among the many factors on our climate leadership scorecard is whether they mention clean energy (good) or advocate climate policies from opposing the Keystone XL pipeline to ending fossil fuel subsidies (much better). He's the most progressive viable candidate in the HI-01 primary to replace Hanabusa; the frontrunner is a DINO who opposes same sex marriage and minimum wage increases.

Like Sen. Schatz, Chang will bring re(new)able energy to Congress. Like Sen. Schatz, he'll also stand up for other progressive causes, from LGBT rights to raising the minimum wage. We're excited to endorse both!

photo (1)Endorsements matter in persuading voters, but talking to voters matters more. That's why Climate Hawks Vote is backing up these endorsement with organization on the ground in Honolulu. We'll be independent of both campaigns, per federal rules, to help elect both of these climate leaders. That means registering and reaching out to voters... and the obligatory fundraising request.

We did a voter registration drive in Honolulu last night!

photoPlease chip in to elect climate hawks in Hawaii and beyond via ActBlue.

About Climate Hawks Vote: as seen in Grist, is a new SuperPAC I cofounded to elect only those politicians who lead on climate change. Our goal is to elect climate hawk leaders - those who prioritize and speak on the climate crisis. Simply put, climate change is the greatest threat facing the next few generations of humanity, not just another Democratic issue, but too many politicians are afraid to talk about it. We don't tolerate elected officials and candidates taking money from tobacco companies who profit from human suffering and death; we shouldn't tolerate them taking money from coal, oil, and gas companies whose business plan is to cook the planet. Climate Hawks Vote has a complex scorecard covering not just Democratic politicians' votes, but also their leadership on climate change. Join us.

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hawk fights squirrel CHVIn the last few weeks I've picked up a sense of optimism on climate change activism within the Democratic party. From the Michigan senate race to the 90 year old activist at my local Democratic club telling us that climate change is our biggest issue, I'm finally seeing that Democrats grasp both the magnitude of the crisis we face and the ways it can help win elections. Tom Steyer's promise to put $100 million into climate-centric races has emboldened Democrats to speak on the issue.

In response, the Koch brothers now promise to spend $290 million to oppose climate activists. The Daily Beast reports on their strategy to make climate activists targets:

In the face of expanding energy regulations, stepped-up Democratic attacks and the ongoing fight over Obamacare, the billionaire Koch brothers and scores of wealthy allies have set an initial 2014 fundraising target of $290 million which should boost GOP candidates and support dozens of conservative groups—including a new energy initiative with what looks like a deregulatory, pro-consumer spin....

The energy initiative is being created under the umbrella of the largest Koch network nonprofit in apparent response to a number of developments: the commitment by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer to steer $100 million into ads in several states to make climate change a priority issue in the elections; numerous setbacks at the state level where Koch network backed advocacy groups have been fighting against renewable energy standards; and the new EPA regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The sheer amount of money being tossed around so casually has to give pause to the idea that we still are a democracy. (Note that the $290 million effort may be less than the $400 million they spent - and mostly lost - in 2012. Maybe they're beginning to catch on to the idea that money can't buy a democracy.)

Ostensibly the arms race is against Tom Steyer, who has previously promised a mere $100 million. But the money will affect all of us who care about climate change, who want to see our children inherit a decent world, who want to breathe clean air and drink clean water, who don't want to write off Miami and the Maldives to the rising seas. The Koch brothers are now targeting all of us.

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