Sierra Club Enters The Primary Fray In Arkansas

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will be the target of a new series of attack ads launched by the Sierra Club in Arkansas today. Lincoln’s support for a plan to strip the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions has drawn fire from environmental groups for a while now, and the new Sierra Club ad campaign is not the group’s first on the subject.

But coming on the heels of Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s decision to challenge Lincoln in the Democratic Senate primary, the Sierra Club’s new attack on Lincoln puts the group in the company of the AFL-CIO, MoveOn and other national groups pouring money into Arkansas in opposition to Lincoln.The Sierra Club effort is a bit smaller than the campaigns from those other groups, however. The Club will launch a series of radio ads in the Little Rock market and couple the effort with an online marketing plan. The ads don’t mention Halter or the upcoming primary election. In an interview with TPM yesterday, Halter said he disagreed with Lincoln on the EPA bill.

According to the Sierra Club, the EPA plan backed by Lincoln — as well as other Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate — amounts to little more than a government handout to an energy industry afraid of facing new emissions targets.

Lincoln is also opposed to the so-called cap-and-trade bill passed by the House last year. Her decision to join with the opponents of that plan, a central piece of President Obama’s environmental agenda, has also rallied the Sierra Club against her.

“Arkansans are wondering why Senator Lincoln wants to vote to protect the profits of the richest industry in human history,” Arkansas Sierra Club representative Benn Davenport said in a statement this morning, “all the while refusing to vote for a comprehensive climate bill that will create thousands of jobs back home.”

Late Update In an interview with Greenwire (sub. req’d) today, the Lincoln campaign responded to the Sierra Club campaign:

“This is a false and intentionally deceptive advertisement,” said Lincoln campaign spokesman Katie Laning Niebaum. “Senator Lincoln has been a steadfast champion for rural America as a leader in the development of renewable energy and biofuels that will help stimulate our economy and create new jobs, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and preserve our environment for future generations.”

Earlier this week, Laning Niebaum said, “Senator Lincoln supports the Murkowski resolution because heavy-handed EPA regulation would harm Arkansas’s small business economy.” In addition to Nelson and Landrieu, 38 Republicans support the Murkowski disapproval resolution.