Recently, a Washington, D.C.-based radical environmental group, the League of Conservation Voters, ran an unprecedented $790,000 worth of attack ads against me alleging that I was a “climate change denier.” This is by far the largest negative political ad buy, this far out from an election, in our state's history. The attack ads were concentrated over a two-week period.
First of all, the ads claimed that “Coffman questions whether climate change is even a problem.” There is no question that climate change is real since it has existed since the beginning of time and will always be a factor that can negatively impact our environment. The role that carbon emissions, from human activity, have on climate change is still a subject of debate but, in my view, there is no question that it also has a negative impact.
What is clear is that we should do all that we can to reduce carbon emissions, irrespective of how one feels about the validity of the extent of man-caused climate change, in order to improve the quality of our environment. However, we should do so under a balanced approach that considers the economic impact of our actions.
What the League of Conservations Voters wants to do is to impose a carbon tax to raise the price of conventional carbon-based fuels in order to discourage their use and to make the higher-cost renewable sources comparatively more attractive. I oppose that strategy because working and middle-class families have had it hard enough under this economy, and they don't need to be punished even more with higher energy prices. Instead, I have voted to appropriate federal dollars to research renewable energy solutions that are not only beneficial to our environment, but will become more cost-competitive with traditional fuel sources.
The ads go on to say that I'm opposed to doing anything to reduce carbon emissions. Even by their standards, these claims are blatantly false. I've always endorsed an all-of-the-above energy strategy and have publicly supported the wind energy production tax credit. In fact, just before the ads ran I was in Brighton visiting the Vestas plant that makes turbines for the wind energy industry. I've also been active in leading the effort to sanction China for unfair trade practices when it comes to their near-monopoly status on rare earth metals that are essential to both solar and wind energy manufacturing in the United States.
I believe that we can continue to reduce harmful carbon emissions in the United States through energy conservation and the development of cleaner cost-competitive energy alternatives. These ads do not reflect that reality because they are trying to produce a partisan political outcome and not an environmental one.
It's unfortunate that there are powerful special interests groups out of Washington, D.C. that now think they can best influence elections in a state like Colorado by spending massive amounts of money on negative ads well over a year before voters will go to the polls to decide who will represent them.
Republican Mike Coffman is the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 6th District. He is a Marine Corps combat veteran and has a combined 21 years of military experience between the Army, the Army Reserve, the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve.