'Jobs, jobs and jobs'
In light of that polling and continued grim economic news, it is no surprise that separate campaigns in favor of cap-and-trade legislation carry the same message: Pass a climate change bill and create jobs.
The largest campaign to date has come from a coalition composed of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, United Steelworkers and the Blue Green Alliance. The groups have started running a television, print and online ad campaign in nine states and the District of Columbia that features Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman, who describes how the former steel town has been decimated by job losses and could recover with increased development of components for alternative energy technologies.
The 30-second ads end with the tagline, "carbon caps = hard hats."
The campaign is expected to cost more than $3 million, and the ads will run through next month.
Additionally, the Blue Green Alliance has launched a television campaign with a roughly similar message across the Midwestern states, featuring workers touting the benefits of green jobs that could be created by "strong climate legislation."
The Alliance for Climate Protection will air radio ads in 15 states – focusing on districts that are represented by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – that also espouse the benefits of renewable energy. And the Apollo Alliance has started a campaign calling on Congress to include language in either a climate or energy bill this session that provides loans and grants to U.S. manufacturing companies to "retool" their factories to build renewable energy technologies.
All four campaigns, though calling for implementation of a carbon cap, make virtually no mention of the potential environmental benefits of such legislation and frame the issue almost exclusively in relation to job creation.
"The three top priorities for everybody on the Congress right now are job, jobs, and jobs," said Kreindler of the Environmental Defense Fund.
For the moment, environmentalists have the benefit of being mostly alone in ads on climate legislation. Though there are a number of fierce critics of the climate proposal, no group has yet launched a far-reaching campaign specifically designed to oppose the legislation.
"I think they're trying to score as many points as they can up front, and hold on in the fourth quarter," said Chris Tucker of the Institute for Energy Research, which has been critical of both mandatory carbon caps and the idea that they would create "green" jobs.
"They're trying to get folks to talk about it and generally support the idea, but they know it's going to get tougher as it goes on," Tucker added.
Already, House Republicans have built a message surrounding the issue that hinges almost exclusively on the argument that carbon caps will further raise costs for consumers and drive some business out of the country, further weakening the country's economy.
"When it comes to the issue of climate change ... it's pretty clear that if we don't work with other industrialized nations around the world, what's going to happen is that we're going to ship millions of American jobs overseas," House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said during an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "We have to deal with this in a responsible way."