Did A ‘Green’ Millionaire Persuade Sen. Ayotte To Support EPA’s Global Warming Rule?

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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EPA published a finalized version of its global warming rule in the Federal Register Friday and it wasn’t long before New Hampshire Republican Sen. [crscore]Kelly Ayotte[/crscore] bucked her own party and came out in support of the rule.

“It’s so important that we protect New Hampshire’s beautiful environment for our economy and for our future,” Ayotte said in a statement Sunday

“After carefully reviewing this plan and talking with members of our business community, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, I have decided to support the Clean Power Plan to address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment,” she said.

Ayotte is facing reelection in 2016 and could be fending off attacks from Democrats over her stance on global warming. On the other hand, Ayotte has received sizable donations from a rich donor concerned about global warming and green energy.

North Carolina businessman Jay Faison and his group, the ClearPath Foundation, are promising to spend millions to change conservatives’ minds on global warming. This includes backing candidates they believe will push climate and green energy policies.

Faison donated $5,400 to Ayotte’s campaign in June. Four days before Faison donated directly to Ayotte’s campaign, the eco-conscious millionaire gave $500,000 to a super PAC called Granite State Solutions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That super PAC funding could be used to defend Ayotte and other New Hampshire Republican candidates during the 2016 election cycle.

Kelly’s statement also endorsed EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) during an interview Monday with New Hampshire Public Radio. She’s the first Republican to support CPP, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030.

CPP forces states to come up with plans to reduce power plant emissions in the coming years. EPA is requiring New Hampshire to reduce CO2 emissions 23 percent, but the agency projects the state will exceed its federally-mandated reductions even without CPP.

In effect, the EPA is saying CPP will have no impact on New Hampshire’s power sector because the state is already pushing its own policies to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

“I will carefully monitor implementation of the plan to make sure there is sufficient flexibility for New Hampshire to meet its goals and that the plan does not have an adverse impact on Granite State energy costs,” Ayotte said.

Ayotte is considered a more moderate Republican and represents a state that voted for President Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections. But Ayotte has also pushed legislation to subsidize buildings that voluntarily become more energy-efficient, and she supports permanently renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Ayotte’s remarks were lauded by environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer who spent $73 million last election supporting Democratic candidates and causes. Steyer has also pledged to spend millions more making global warming a major issue in the 2016 election.

“Senator Kelly Ayotte today recognized a simple political fact: New Hampshire voters overwhelmingly support policies like the Clean Power Plan that save lives, lower energy costs and address climate change,” Mike Padmore, who heads up the New Hampshire operations for Steyer’s group NextGen Climate Action, said in a statement.

“If they want to win New Hampshire, Republican candidates must support action on climate change,” Padmore said.

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