NRDC TV Ads Call Out Kirk on Climate

Million Dollar Ad Buy Shines Spotlight on Childhood Health Implications of Senator’s Pro-Polluter Vote

CHICAGO (July 7, 2015) – A new public education advertising effort chastises Illinois Senator Mark Kirk for a recent, decisive vote to block climate action. The ads running on television stations throughout Chicagoland and social media highlight Senator Kirk’s vote to block Environmental Protection Agency action to cut dangerous carbon pollution from America’s power plants, which contributes to climate change and leads to childhood asthma attacks.

“Senator Kirk had a choice: vote for climate action—or vote with the polluters. He voted wrong,” said Henry Henderson, Midwest Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That vote undercut the health of people across the state, as well as the Great Lakes. It also went against the wishes of Illinoisans who overwhelmingly support fighting dangerous carbon pollution.”

NRDC placed the million dollar ad buy titled “Smokestacks”—featuring children wearing nebulizers and drought—to call out the Senator’s decisive vote in June to prevent the EPA from implementing its Clean Power Plan, which will set the first-ever federal standards limiting carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants—the key driver of climate change. The Senator also voted to undercut new protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, and to slash funding for clean water infrastructure, undercutting the Senator’s claims of Great Lakes protection. 

Senator Kirk cast the votes in June as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The pro-polluter provisions were included in a bill funding the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior for next year.

David Goldston, director of government affairs at NRDC, added, “Senator Kirk likes to portray himself as a moderate who is concerned about the environment.  But he voted to block the most basic actions to fight climate change, clean our air and protect our water.  The public needs to know how he voted on these central issues. ”

Polls show that Illinoisans are ready to fight climate change and advance clean energy. Recent bipartisan polling shows that nearly two-thirds of Illinoisans support the Clean Power Plan and 8-in-10 Illinoisans support the state plan to cut carbon pollution, according to the poll, which was released by NRDC.

The NRDC ad focuses on childhood asthma because the proposed Clean Power Plan will reduce pollutant emissions that aggravate the disease.  About 281,000 Illinois children currently suffer from asthma. The Clean Power Plan is expected to avoid up to 150,000 asthma attacks nationally in its first year of implementation.

Climate change also threatens health. Illinois faces a 120% increase in annual heat related deaths by 2080 according to climate projections. Extreme rain events which trigger flooding have become more prevalent and will continue in the years ahead; flooding can lead to drinking water contamination and disease outbreaks. A June rain event in Chicago overwhelmed regional water infrastructure and re-reversed the Chicago River, sending millions of gallons of sewage contaminated water flowing into Lake Michigan.

NRDC has previously taken to the airwaves and social media to call out Washington decision makers for their efforts to cut off climate action, including TV ads holding Ohio Senator Rob Portman to account for an effort to block the Clean Power Plan earlier this year.

Following is the voiceover script for the ads criticizing Senator Kirk, which is accompanied by images of the Senator, polluting power plants, farmers surveying drought-stricken crops and children struggling to breathe:

“Since Senator Kirk cast the deciding vote to let power plants keep polluting our air, polluters are breathing a lot easier. 

But nearly 300,000 Illinois children aren’t. 

Because pollution from power plants is not only one of the leading causes of catastrophic climate change…

…It leads to thousands of childhood asthma attacks.

Tell Senator Kirk he needs to stop protecting polluters, and start protecting our kids.”

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