Greens seek to make example of Sen. Kirk

Environmental group League of Conservation Voters is using recent comments made by Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio MORE (R-Ill.) to warn other lawmakers that there is a "political price" to denying human impact on climate change.  

In a memo released on Wednesday, the green group highlights Kirk's comments as "out of step" and risky politically.

"There is a clear political price to be paid," LCV said in the memo.

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The warning comes as lawmakers near a possible amendment vote on climate change science in the Senate, which is being floated as an attachment to a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

"As a senator nearing the end of his first term, Sen. Kirk’s efforts to quickly correct his science denier statements should come as no surprise. Polling as recent as the 2014 election exit polls shows the majority of Americans believe climate change is a serious problem," LCV said.

LCV isn't the first group to react to Kirk's comments, but the memo signals that they hope lawmakers will consider the political fallout as environmental groups strive to make climate change a wedge issue in future elections.

In an brief interview with E&E Daily earlier this month, Kirk said "political correctness took over climate science." 

He added: "We had the previous warming period, which was called global optimum, and the best way to talk about that is when Leif Eriksson went west from his home, he discovered a land mass that he called Greenland, because it was. And that was called the global optimum, because the planet was much warmer. By calling Greenland 'green land,' we know that the climate has been changing pretty regularly within recorded memory."

It signaled a flip from 2009 when Kirk voted for legislation to implement a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. 

Kirk later clarified those comments in a statement, saying "climate change is real and human beings definitely play a role."

Still, LCV and number of green groups were not convinced. 

LCV said Kirk has not ranked well on their environmental score card in recent years, and said they will be keeping an eye on his and other senators vote if a sense of the Senate amendment on climate change reaches the floor.