We shouldn't sugarcoat it. We lost may good friends on Election Day -- friends who stood up to the Big Oil companies and championed clean energy policies. But in the one race where the words "global warming" were literally on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly voted for clean energy and the new energy economy.
Earlier this year, LCV said that the most important race in the country was California's Proposition 23, the dirty energy ballot measure funded by two Texas oil companies. This proposition would have effectively killed California's landmark clean energy and climate law, which is why LCV took the unprecedented step of naming it to the "Dirty Dozen."
Despite millions spent on ads with false and misleading claims about job losses -- and in the state with the country's third highest unemployment rate -- more than 60 percent of California voters rejected this deceptive ballot. They did so precisely because they recognize that transitioning to a clean energy future is a path towards renewed economic prosperity.
The defeat of Proposition 23 lays the groundwork for clean energy advances in other states and at the federal level, as it represents the largest public referendum in history on clean energy and climate policy.
At the congressional level we are of course disappointed that many clean energy leaders were defeated, but it is clear that this election was about larger macro issues. Incumbents who voted for and against comprehensive energy and climate legislation lost. But it's worth noting that about 80 percent of the House Democrats who voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act were re-elected, while 60 percent of those Democrats who voted against it were defeated.
Big Oil and their allies in Congress may try to claim that the election's results were a rejection of clean energy policies. Quite frankly, that's insulting to voters, and it's just not true. According to an election eve poll of 83 battleground congressional districts, when voters who chose the Republican candidate for Congress were asked in an open ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited something related to energy or cap and trade. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of battleground voters believe the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
This year we also saw a disturbing trend emerge in which nearly every Republican candidate for Senate rejected the sound and settled science that man-made carbon pollution contributes to climate change. Fortunately, voters this cycle rejected "flat earthers" Carly Fiorina, Ken Buck, Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle, choosing instead to return to Washington clean energy champions like Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid and Michael Bennet. In fact, despite strong headwinds, seven of the 13 LCV named to the "Dirty Dozen" - including Prop 23 - were defeated. Elsewhere, voters elected new clean energy leaders Richard Blumenthal and Chris Coons to the Senate.
There is no doubt that we have our work cut out for us. Yet the outcome of the elections does not change the fact that the U.S. is dangerously dependent on oil, China and other countries are making huge gains in clean energy technologies and we continue to spew carbon pollution into the atmosphere.
The fight continues.
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