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Environmental group ads target GOP supporters of energy bill

Streaming ads take aim at members in California, New York

California GOP Rep. Michelle Steel walks down the House steps after the last vote on Thursday.
California GOP Rep. Michelle Steel walks down the House steps after the last vote on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An environmental group partnered with a Democratic nonprofit to launch a volley of digital ads targeting Republicans from California and New York on Thursday, hours after they voted for energy, permitting and public lands legislation that passed the House.

Republican leaders described the bill as a top priority and something voters wanted, but the ads indicate Democrats think they will be liabilities for seven members in battleground states.

The ads will run on streaming devices in the districts of five Californians — Mike Garcia, Young Kim, Ken Calvert, Michelle Steel and Darrell Issa — and New York Republicans George Santos and Anthony D’Esposito.

All of them except Issa are in seats considered in play next year according to early ratings by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Garcia’s seat is rated a Toss-up and in 2020 backed Joe Biden over President Donald Trump by more than 12 percentage points.

The League of Conservation Voters and House Majority Forward, a nonprofit aligned with the House Democratic leadership, are funding the ads. The groups described the effort as a “six-figure ad campaign.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy touted the bill after passage as a tool to lower gasoline and electricity prices. The measure would rewrite federal water and permitting laws, and it’s highly unlikely to become law in its current form. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Thursday called the bill an “unserious” effort.

“The Senate is not going to waste our time on a bill that sets America back decades in our transition to clean energy,” he said.

In part, the bill would repeal a series of provisions from the 2022 climate, health care and tax law, including a fee that would charge fossil energy companies for their methane emissions, an EPA program to create a federal green bank to support emission reduction projects and a $4.5 billion home electrification rebate program. 

In a 30-second clip targeting Calvert, the narrator says political devotees to former President Donald Trump are in charge of the Republican Party.

“And Ken Calvert just voted to pass their extreme agenda,” the narrator says. “Bill one: A free pass for ‘Big Oil’ to rake in bigger profits, while they charge you sky-high prices at the pump.”

Republicans reserved the title of HR 1, an honor parties hold for bills they want to draw significant public attention, for the legislation.

Nick Abraham, state communications director for LCV, said the ads will likely run “several weeks” but timing may vary depending on the district.

Four Democrats — Jared Golden of Maine, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez of Washington — voted for the bill. All of them except Cuellar were on the National Republican Campaign Committee’s early target list for 2024.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents a Philadelphia-area district, voted against it.

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