Environmentalist groups are spending millions of dollars on this year's midterm elections, with the League of Conservation Voters joining the fray with $25 million in campaign funding, five times more than it spent in the last midterms to "make climate change part of the conversation."
"We are to make, by far, the biggest investment we've ever made in elections," LCV President Gene Karpinski told The Washington Post.
The funding will largely be devoted to key Senate races, but some will also be spent on gubernatorial and state legislative contests nationwide.
The money is in addition to the millions that billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer
has earmarked. According to the Post, Steyer has spent some $22 million, and expects to finance an additional $26 million. Steyer is one of LCV's major backers.
In recent years, LCV has continued to multiply its spending on elections. In 2010, it spent $5 million, tripling its spending to $15 million just two years later. It has also joined forces with another group, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund PAC for the GiveGreen program, which has contributed $4 million in this election cycle.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Action Fund, has spent more than $1 million for campaigns in Colorado, New York, Michigan, Iowa, and Kansas this cycle.
But despite spending millions, the groups may have difficulty swaying voters, said Matt Dempsey, senior director for FTI Consulting, which represents fossil fuel industry interests.
Such groups, said Dempsey, "face an uphill battle at the ballot box because they simply cannot explain to the public how they plan to meet energy needs without fossil fuels, both now and in the future."
In addition, he said, many Senate Democrats up for re-election in key states, including Alaska's Mark Begich, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana openly support the Keystone XL pipeline.
But LCV backs Begich, Hagan, and Colorado's Mark Udall, all of whom support greenhouse gas emission limits.
LCV is targeting races in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and North Carolina, many of the states at play as Democrats fight to retain control of the Senate. The environmentalists also oppose Maine Gov. Paul LePage's re-election, and are trying to sway state legislative races in Oregon and Washington.
Only four Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and three state legislators, are being backed by the environmentalists.
Climate change has come into play in New Hampshire, where former Sen. Scott Brown is challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Brown believes that climate change is happening because of natural and man-made causes, said his spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton, and the "real issue" is "whether we are going to impose a new national energy tax on carbon. Scott Brown says no and Jeanne Shaheen says yes."
Meanwhile, Republicans are responding with increased spending. American Commitment, a conservative group, is running ads in Colorado and Iowa questioning Steyer's support for Democrats.
Other groups, like American Crossroads, Americans For Prosperity, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are running ads backing the Keystone pipeline, and groups run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are providing support for all people running against candidates supported by the LCV.
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