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Truth Test: Ad pecks at Coffman's record on carbon emissions

6:03 PM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA-The 2014 elections are a year and a few months away, but early interest in once congressional race has political ads already back on Colorado's airwaves.

Rep. Mike Coffman's (R-Colorado) race is expected to be one of, if not the very hottest race in Congress next year.

 

The ad being aired now comes from the League of Conservation Voters, which is one of many left-leaning groups you can expect to help in the effort to unseat Coffman.

The ad compares Coffman to an ostrich, saying that he has his "head in the sand" on climate change.

Not that it's politically important, but the claim that ostriches bury their heads in the sand is false.

Now, for the claims that do matter politically:

CLAIM: 97 percent of scientists agree climate change is happening and NASA says it's worsening extreme weather.
VERDICT: TRUE

The ad should have specified that the figure represents agreement specifically among climate scientists, but it is a well documented figure, backed up by reputable research.

You can also find articles from NASA discussing extreme weather as it relates to climate change and worsening fire conditions, too.

CLAIM: Coffman questions whether climate change is a problem.
VERDICT: OVERSTATEMENT

Coffman has not said that climate change isn't a problem. He acknowledges that climate change is happening, but believes that climate change is occurring naturally.

The ad's creators cites an Atlantic article in which Coffman said: "Climate change is naturally occurring. What influence do we have over that, we certainly need to look into, but that's subject to debate."

Coffman reiterates this position on his official website, which reads:

There is no question that climate change is real and 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 what is clear is that we should do all that we can to reduce carbon emissions in order to improve the quality of our environment. However, we should do so under a balanced approach that considers the economic impact of the rate at which we reduce our carbon emissions.

Coffman has repeatedly cast doubt on the extent to which humans are causing climate change, which does run counter to the consensus position of climate scientists, who say it is "very likely" that most of the increase in global temperatures is caused by humans.

If Coffman doesn't accept that, then it is fair to say he questions whether we can do much about the problem.

CLAIM: Coffman opposes efforts to reduce carbon pollution.
VERDICT: FAIR

The voiceover in the ad actually says that Coffman opposes "common sense" efforts to reduce carbon pollution, which of course inject opinion into the votes in question.

Stripping that language and focusing in on the claim, Coffman's voting record tilts heavily against measures aimed at controlling carbon emissions.

Coffman voted for a bill that would have repealed the EPA's scientific finding that carbon pollution poses a threat, and against an amendment that would have taken that piece out of the bill.

He also voted for the "Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012," which would have repealed a number of greenhouse gas regulations.

Coffman's record also includes a vote in favor of banning a tax on carbon emissions without congressional approval, which in fairness is a controversial idea.

All other House Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted the same way as Coffman on that amendment.

The only example of a move Coffman made in favor of controlling carbon emissions we could find in the past couple of years was to publicly support a regional plan to control haze in Colorado, along with the rest of our delegation to Congress.

BOTTOM LINE

This ad aims to portray Coffman in the darkest possible light, but it does so on a foundation of votes that speak directly to the issue in question.

If you want somebody in office who'll vote for more federal control of carbon emissions, Mike Coffman isn't your guy.

News you can use-- a year and three months from now.


(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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