Big Wins and Big Losses for the Environment

There is a lot of reason to celebrate the defeat of Prop 23 in California, which would have stalled action on California's landmark climate bill that passed a few years ago. Grassroots pressure helped to defeat Prop 23, which was largely funded by out-of-state (Texas) oil interests. Perhaps one of the best reasons to celebrate this victory, besides the sweetness of the little guys taking down Big Oil, was the fact that a whole lot of the CA business community got behind it since they know that clean energy and clean tech is a driving force of California's economy and the state's fastest growing job sector. The resounding defeat of Prop 23 reinforces the point that environmental regulations can create jobs, and that we can (and must) continue to grow the economy while improving the environment. There is no choice between the environment and jobs we need them both and can have both.

And while the defeat of Prop 23 in California was good news for the environment (and the win of Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom) two other ballot measures didn't go so well. Prop 26 passed, which was another darling of dirty energy and will make it harder to hold polluters accountable. And Prop 21 unfortunately did not pass -- it would have increased vehicle license fees to help pay for state parks, which are in desperate trouble. Earlier in the year, many of the state's parks were threatened will closure.

Elsewhere in the country there were a few small gains. The AP reported that in Iowa residents approved a constitutional amendment to create a trust fund to help pay for environmental efforts like improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, protecting habitat and creating parks. The only downside seems to be this little detail:

The fund won't have any money. But supporters hope lawmakers in the future will approve a 1 percent sales tax increase, of which three-eighths of each penny would go toward the fund.


Well, I guess we can keep our fingers crossed on that one.

The big giant storm cloud over the parade of small victories is that the House is now back in GOP hands and that means that not only will nothing get done about climate change and advancing a clean energy agenda -- there's likely to be an all-out witch hunt, as Brian Merchant from Treehugger reports:

The GOP has already announced plans to attack the EPA for its plans to reign in the nation's biggest polluters' carbon emissions and to try to stop it from regulating things like mountaintop removal mining so ardently. Republican leadership has also announced plans to launch an investigation into climate scientists for their alleged involvement in the long-debunked climate gate event.

Now that it's firmly in power, expect it to make good on those plans. In addition to the above, the GOP plans to turn the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming into a farce -- literally. The committee, formerly run by the environmental advocate (and climate bill co-author) Ed Markey, may be taken over by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a climate skeptic, who will use the office to extract "sweet revenge", according to Politico. He wants to keep the global warming committee alive to attempt to prove that global warming doesn't exist, and to "police Obama's green policies."

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at November 3, 2010, 9:39am

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