Reality Check: Environmental groups target Johnson votes

Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson is the target of environmental groups stumping for support of President Barack Obama’s clean power plan and coming after four Republican senators who are running for re-election next fall.

Recent ads showing disappearing people and a new ad with disasters and smokestacks are the joint effort of two environmental groups. The League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Action Fund, two liberal advocacy groups, are spending $1.6 million on these ads in Wisconsin.

“When NASA climate scientists and the United States military study the link between carbon pollution and the extreme weather events costing lives and billions of dollars, they see the connection and they’re taking action,” the ad says.

News 3 finds this is true. The Pentagon has issued two reports on climate change in response to a prior request by senate Democrats. Both reports say weather events caused by climate change are affecting national security and are being considered in military command and training.

“But Sen. Ron Johnson, he voted to deny the science on climate change,” the ad says.

News 3 finds this needs clarification.

This vote was on an amendment to a bill to approve the the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The amendment was proposed by a Democrat from Hawaii and cited multiple scientific panels, saying that climate change was real and that human activity significantly contributes to it.

Johnson voted no on the amendment, which failed 50 to 49.

“He voted to deny the science on climate change while taking over $200,000 from polluters,” the ad says.

News 3 finds this also needs clarification.

The group cites Johnson’s donations from three industries as “polluters,” including oil and gas, mining and electric utilities.

They offer no evidence that any specific companies violated EPA pollution regulations, although carbon emissions are not currently regulated.

Voters should also know it’s the people who work for these companies, not the companies themselves, donating to campaigns.

“And voting to let them keep spewing unlimited carbon pollution into our air,” the ad continues.

News 3 finds this is true.

Johnson did vote in 2011 and 2013 for amendments to unrelated bills to prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. In both cases, the amendments failed.

When asked about the votes, Johnson’s campaign called the ad a “false partisan attack” and said “left wing groups don’t care how much their policies drive up energy rates.”

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