Environmental group targets five GOP lawmakers for climate views

Dubbing the GOP legislators the "Flat Earth Five," the environmental group is looking to see whether it can help knock its targets out of their respective races. It will attempt to do that by amplifying those lawmakers' global-warming views and connections to the fossil-fuel industry.

So far, the group has identified Reps. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) and Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) in the ads that begin airing Tuesday. Both Benishek and Buerkle face Democratic opponents who believe greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change. The group has yet to name the other three Republicans it is targeting.

The Hill rates both races as "toss-ups."

Benishek has struggled to distance himself from his Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Gary McDowell. Benishek was holding on to a 2 percentage point lead and had the support of 40 percent of voters, according to a June poll conducted for House Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC. 

Buerkle has to fend off her opponent, Democrat and former Rep. Dan Maffei, in a race that is drawing more national attention of late. Maffei for the first time surpassed Buerkle in campaign cash on hand earlier this month, according to The Post-Standard

The League is betting it can persuade enough independents to tip those elections.

A Washington Post-Stanford University poll released earlier this month showed 78 percent of respondents believe that if nothing is done about global warming it will either be a very serious (40 percent) or somewhat serious (38 percent) problem for the United States. Seventy-two percent said the global temperature will steadily increase over the next 100 years if nothing is done to prevent it.