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EDF targets retiring senator for defeat

By Juliet Eilperin

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is retiring from Congress this year, so he's not technically campaigning for anything. But the Environmental Defense Fund launched a climate attack ad against him anyway, criticizing his attempt to limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

According to EDF spokesman Tony Kreindler, the $50,000 his group is spending this week to broadcast the commercial on Missouri television aims to send a message to other lawmakers who will be returning to office next year and actually voting on air quality issues in the future.

"Although Senator Bond is retiring, this ad is a message to any Member of Congress who might consider blocking public health protections in the months ahead," he wrote in an e-mail. "Several weeks ago, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri moved to block new air pollution rules. While Senator Bond's effort did not succeed, it is clear that this is the beginning of a sustained assault on the air pollution rules that protect the health of all Americans."

The ad has raised eyebrows among many prominent environmental activists, who have chosen to steer their funds to other causes this election year. Those include defeating California's Proposition 23, which would roll back California's cap on greenhouse gas emissions, and opposing the election of several climate change skeptics running for the House and Senate. EDF's political arm has spent plenty of money on those causes as well, devoting $1,075,000 to the California proposition battle alone.

Regardless of what green groups spend their money on, this effort is far overshadowed by the oil industry, which, according to a new study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has spent $68.5 million this year on ads which the liberal group describes as "misleading and fictitious television ads designed to shape midterm elections and advance their anti-clean energy reform agenda."

Bond spokeswoman Shana Marchio dismissed the ad buy as a sign of panic on the part of environmentalists.

"Attacking a retiring Senator for protecting Americans from costly new energy taxes and job-killing regulations smells of desperation," Marchio said in an e-mailed statement. "Clearly it's just now dawning on these extremists that Americans have said no to unelected EPA bureaucrats circumventing Congress to impose job-killing carbon regulations under the Clean Air Act, which even the authors of the law say was never their intent."

By Juliet Eilperin  | October 19, 2010; 12:26 PM ET
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