Environmentalists are going after one of their own.
Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Food and Water Watch launched a television spot Tuesday criticizing Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon for supporting so-called "fast-track" trade legislation swiftly moving through Congress.
That's Earl Blumenauer—the congressman who wears fluorescent bicycle pins.
"You might think congressman Earl Blumenauer always fights to protect our environment, but you would be wrong," a narrator's voice intones during the ad. "Blumenauer just voted to fast-track a trade deal that would devastate our environment and contribute to climate change."
Blumenauer boasts a 95 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and has earned a reputation as an opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and as a champion of climate action.
But for green groups, Blumenauer's record is the reason they believe it is important to go after him. At a time when many high-profile Republicans disdain the idea of taking action on climate change, environmentalists fear that Democrats will take their support for granted. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Food and Water Watch want to make sure that even their friends understand that support for fast-track won't go unpunished.
"Representative Blumenauer has been an important champion on climate change and the environment, but he is wrong on trade," Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said in a statement. "We can't have 'environmental champions' supporting a bad trade deal."
Debate over international-trade agreements that President Obama is working on negotiating with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union, as well as the fast-track legislation that would allow lawmakers an up-or-down vote on any deal, has opened a rift between Democrats and the White House.
The White House argues that the deals will bolster the economy and help America compete abroad. But many Democrats, green groups, and labor unions say that the agreements could undercut workers' rights and environmental safeguards, ultimately worsening climate change as a result.
But Blumenauer has so far sided with the administration on fast-track.
The congressman was one of only two Democrats to vote for the legislation in the House Ways and Means Committee and penned a joint op-ed in the Oregonian last month with fellow Oregon Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden to express support for the bill. Wyden is also under fire from the left for his stance on fast-track.
Nicole L'Esperance, a spokesperson for Blumenauer, pushed back on Tuesday, emphasizing that the congressman has not indicated how he would vote on a final trade deal.
"The ads are making claims about an agreement that isn't even finalized and it's just plain false," she said. "He has said time and time again that he will review a final agreement before deciding how he would vote."
L'Esperance defended Blumenauer's vote in favor of fast-track, saying that the trade bill "for the first time includes in its negotiating objectives enforceable environmental protections."
The ads will run in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
This story has been updated.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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