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Obama Wins and So Does the Planet (Mostly): 6 Key Environmental Victories From Election Night

There was a notable upset on a green initiative in Michigan and the defeat of GMO labeling in California, but here is some of the good news.

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The first four years came with some environment wins, but with the Keystone XL pipeline still in limbo (and construction already beginning in Texas) and Obama’s support for fracking, the president isn’t an environmentalist’s dream. But perhaps we’re starting to see a shift in the public’s consciousness that can urge Obama to treat climate change like the crisis that it is. As Scott Rosenberg wrote for Grist:

In the wake of Sandy’s coastal devastation, there’s at least a chance of reopening the national conversation about global warming. It would be great for that conversation to be led by a president who’s a real climate crusader. 

Can we make Obama into a climate crusader? Or provide him the political climate to grow into that role? It’s possible. Michael Brune at the Sierra Club has a to-do list made up for the president — let’ see if we can hold Obama to it: 

• First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must finish the job it has begun of cleaning up dirty power plants. Working with the U.S. EPA to finalize carbon pollution standards for new power plants and to begin emphasizing efficiency and clean energy over currently operating plants will continue to be a high priority for the Sierra Club and our partners in the environmental community.

•  The president should take a hard look at what burning toxic tar-sands oil would mean for our climate future—and reject Canada’s plan to pump dirty tar sands through our farmlands and water sources.

• Make conservation and public recreation the top priority for our public lands and use the Antiquities Act to establish national monuments that will protect entire landscapes for this and future generations to enjoy.

• Last, but not least, President Obama must boldly elevate the issue of climate disruption and climate solutions. The American people understand and accept that the climate crisis is upon us. They also know that—with Iowa and South Dakota generating more than 20 percent of their power from wind and with solar-industry jobs growing at more than 10 percent annually—a clean-energy future is already here. We need strong leadership and action to address our climate challenge directly and to build on this clean-energy growth.

3. Goodbye Flat-Earthers 

There is no room for science deniers leading our country. Douglas Fischer reports for Daily Climate:

Three of the "Flat Earth Five" – Republican House members identified by the League of Conservation Voters for their anti-science stance on climate change – lost their races Tuesday, with the remaining two too close to call Wednesday afternoon.

And nine of the League's "dirty dozen" candidates – targeted for "consistently voti[ing] against clean energy and conservation" – lost their bids for public office. ...

Of the five,  Republican Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Francisco Canesco of Texas and Joe Walsh of Illinois lost their seats. In Michigan, the race between incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Benishek and Democratic challenger Gary McDowell was separated by 100 votes with 71 percent of the precincts reporting on Wednesday.

The fifth "Flat Earther," California Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, trailed his challenger, Democrat Ami Bera, by fewer than 200 votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday. 

It turns out the Earth is in fact round, and increasingly warming.

4. Optimistic in Washington

If Jay Inslee hangs on to his narrow lead for governor in Washington (still too close to call), it will be a huge win for the environment. TakePart described his credentials before the election, mentioning that some were hopeful he would be the greenest governor in the country: 

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