THE BLOG
11/16/2012 03:30 pm ET Updated Jan 16, 2013

Elections a Defeat for Big Oil and a Win for Environmental Champions

The 2012 election didn't end the way many people expected. Two years ago, it was assumed that environmental champions up and down the ballot would be wiped off the map by the unprecedented resources oil and coal-backed groups would pour into key races across the country. But when the ballots were counted, we saw a very different outcome.

We knew we could never match the spending of the fossil fuel industry, but it was clear from extensive polling that voters are with us on the issues like supporting clean energy. We knew they wanted leaders who would confront the challenge of global warming. So our goal this cycle was to win key races by ensuring we were smart about our investments and spent enough so that voters would hear our message.

Our strategy paid off. The message beat the money and we showed that there are consequences for siding with oil companies and denying global warming. We demonstrated to our allies that there was an effective political force that had their back in the face of unprecedented attacks from Big Oil and their allies. President Obama was reelected, the Senate became decidedly more pro-environment, and a handful of House incumbents targeted specifically for denying climate change were defeated.

LCV and affiliated political committees spent nearly $14 million this cycle -- more than we spent the last three cycles combined -- defending clean energy and climate champions. On top of that, LCV Action Fund raised and contributed more than $2 million for candidates, more than we ever had before. Environmentalists gave record amounts through our GiveGreen program and help put champions like Tammy Baldwin, Chris Murphy, Angus King, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine and Martin Heinrich over the top, and helped return senators like Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown to Congress.

In the process, LCV had our most successful cycle ever. We defeated 11 of LCV's "Dirty Dozen," setting a new record for the program. We also look to have defeated four the climate-denying House incumbents we targeted as part of our "Flat Earth Five" campaign. And in the presidential race, LCV focused on the battleground state of Colorado, where we spent $2 million highlighting Romney's ties to the oil industry. Additionally, we mobilized thousands of LCV members to volunteer with the Obama campaign in Colorado and in other battleground states, including Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Overall, our independent expenditure campaigns had an astounding return on our investment this cycle: 83 percent of our electoral resources were spent in winning races. By comparison, just 7 percent of the resources spent by Karl Rove's groups and the Chamber of Commerce resulted in victories.

Our state LCV partners played a bigger role than ever before in key races, helping to elect pro-environment legislatures in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Oregon, and pro-environment governors in Montana and Washington.

The millions of dollars funneled into the system by outside groups aligned with the fossil fuel industry fell flat. Given the results of the election, it's clear that there the politics of energy and climate change are shifting. The American people made clear that they want leaders to enact policies that hold corporate polluters accountable, end the handouts to Big Oil and invest in clean energy.

Now that the campaigning is over, we must begin the hard work of turning electoral victories into policy victories that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the lands that we enjoy. In the final days of the 112th Congress, we need to defend environmental priorities and keep investing in clean energy. And with Hurricane Sandy jump-starting a new conversation about our changing climate, we look forward to working with President Obama and environmental allies in Congress to continue to make progress on reducing global warming pollution and building a clean energy economy.