We’re endorsing climate hawk Shenna Bellows to be the next Senator from Maine because business as usual is no longer good enough in the face of a local and worldwide crisis. Long-time incumbent Susan Collins admits the existence of a problem, to her credit; but far from proposing credible solutions, her actions range from policy homeopathy to delay to active hindrance.
While working on our sophisticated scorecard measuring leadership - not just votes - on climate for Senate Democrats, we are also tracking four Senate Republicans in advance of the 2014 election. We’re measuring Susan Collins’ record of public engagement, bills authored and cosponsored, press releases, website, and internal Senate groups joined, beginning January 2011, using the same yardsticks we’re applying to Democrats. And, to be blunt, her record of leadership is worse than her mediocre voting record.
We weight public engagement far more than any other factor. Leaders need to be interacting with citizens on this immense issue, whether it’s speeches on the Senate floor or town halls with local fishermen or keynoting business conferences. Collins hasn’t done any of that. Instead, she had one moment in the spotlight in September 2011 delivering the GOP’s rebuttal to President Obama’s weekly address, in which she demanded a time-out for EPA regulations.
The bills she’s authored have been, mostly, to track, curb, and delay “major regulations,” DC-speak for EPA rules. She’s cosponsored a pro-Keystone XL bill and bills to “rein in the EPA.”
Her press releases likewise sound a similar theme: the only acceptable response to climate change is to sit down and do nothing for a year. Or two. Or until Congress thinks of a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, ooops, we mean, EPA regulations.
Collins’ appeal to some national environmental groups is obvious: she accepts the science, unlike most Republicans of the climate zombie era, and bipartisanship sounds nice. But her 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.
We 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. Maine needs to elect Shenna Bellows to the Senate.