Conservation voters league names Sen. Burr to its ‘Dirty Dozen’

Sen. Richard Burr at a 2013 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Richard Burr at a 2013 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

Calling him “dangerously outside the mainstream,” the League of Conservation Voters on Friday named Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina to its “Dirty Dozen” – politicians whom it tars in election years for backing major industrial polluters.

The environmental group also contended that Burr’s positions “directly align” with those of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Burr has endorsed. Like Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” the senator disagrees with climate scientists who recognize that humans are contributing to global warming, the group said.

It quoted from a McClatchy story, published Wednesday, that described Burr’s acceptance of nearly $1.7 million from the oil, coal, natural gas and electric power industries, including nuclear utilities, since he was first elected to a U.S. House of Representatives seat in 1994.

The story quoted a spokeswoman for Burr, Rebecca Glover Watson, as stating he does believe humans are contributing to “some changes” in the global climate. She did not elaborate.

Burr has won an endorsement from a so-called super PAC, the ClearPath Action Network Inc., which is committed to financially supporting the candidacies of Republicans who work to fight climate change. The fund is bankrolled by wealthy Charlotte entrepreneur Jay Faison.

Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for Burr’s campaign, called it “no surprise that an ‘outside the mainstream,’ radical left-wing group like (the League of Conservation Voters) is trying to bail out a radical left-wing candidate” who is challenging Burr, Democratic nominee Deborah Ross.

Before serving five terms in the North Carolina House, Ross headed the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a memo explaining the basis for Burr’s designation, Clay Schroers, the conservation league’s national campaigns director, said Burr “consistently votes in favor of his big polluter backers,” including voting to protect taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies

Burr, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, has backed Trump’s positions, Schroers wrote, “even in the face of the presidential candidate’s incendiary and divisive statements.”

“Like Trump, Burr is dangerously outside the mainstream on the critical issue of climate change,” he wrote “He disagrees with climate scientists, NASA and the Department of Defense, who all recognize the significant threat of climate change fueled by human activities.”

Schroers also said Burr has supported the libertarian agenda of Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, a major oil company based in Wichita, Kansas, voting with their positions 91 percent of the time. Burr also proposed merging the Environmental Protection Agency with the Energy Department and has opposed the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan, a regulation that would require states to sharply cut their electric power plants’ carbon emissions by 2030, Schroers wrote.