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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.

Photo Credit: AFP


This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

Super Storm Sandy gave climate change a late appearance in the election. And it has left many people wondering if a new era of dialogue and much needed action will follow in the storm’s wake. The aftermath of the election, too has reason for hope. It proved mostly heartening when it comes to green initiatives and the candidates who have come out in support of clean energy, climate change action, and good old-fashion science. 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:

1. Dirty Energy Comes up Empty

A lot of money was spent trying to protect dirty energy interests and their playmakers in Washington. And for the most part — it was money down the drain. Of course the fossil fuel industry didn’t go broke in the effort — but they did shell out quite a bit of cash. Noreen Nielsen writes for Climate Progress:

In just the last two months of the campaign, outside groups linked to dirty energy sources or the promotion of a dirty energy agenda spent more than $270 million on TV ads in the presidential, House, and Senate races and industry ads promoting oil, gas, and coal interest, and more than $31 million was spent on energy-related ads, according to a Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis of data from Kantar Media’s CMAG. ...

In addition to dirty energy groups’ direct spending on specific electoral campaigns, they also pumped millions of dollars into generic “branding” campaigns promoting oil, gas, and coal interests, such as the American Petroleum Institute’s “I’m an Energy Voter” campaign. From September 1 through November 5, for example, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the American Petroleum Institute spent $5.5 million on these types of ads.

Writing for the NRDC, Heather Taylor-Miesle explains where industry came up short: 

Oil, gas, and coal companies spent $20 million to defeat Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), but he won anyway. He ran on his record of supporting renewable power and environmental protections and voters rewarded him for it.

They did the same thing in the New Mexico Senate race. Fossil fuel companies opened their checkbooks for Former Representative Heather Wilson, a pro-drilling, anti-climate action candidate. But voters preferred Representative Martin Heinrich and the fact that he made clean energy and climate action a central part of his campaign.

In Virginia, fossil fuel companies and other outside interests spent heavily to take a senate seat away from the Democratic Party. Voters weren’t buying it. They elected Former Governor Tim Kaine who has a long history of standing up for clean air and public health safeguards. ...

That means these Senators are free to do the right thing on clean energy and clean air. They underwent a full-throttled, deep-pocketed attack on from the right and survived. Why? Because voters did not take the side of polluters. They took the side of clean energy champions.

Overwhelmingly voters across the country told dirty energy to go back to the 19th century.

2. Barack Obama Gets Four More Years

There is no doubt that we need an energy revolution at every level of our country — not just the top seat. But the President’s role in pushing us toward a clean economy is paramount. We also need a leader on the international stage to help make amends for our failures thus far, and to actively engage with the rest of the world on climate change solutions. We know Mitt Romney wasn’t go to be that guy. Obama could be. 

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