Washington, DC – With the backdrop of record-breaking energy prices and the looming threat of global warming, environmental issues received unprecedented attention in one of the hardest fought elections in U.S. history.
With 750,000 members and activists, Environment America and its federation of state environment groups endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president and 29 candidates for Congress, released 42 reports evaluating the impact of candidates’ records on the environment, and had face-to-face conversations with swing voters about voting for the most environmental candidates.
“This election pitted the energy policy of last 30 years against that of the next 30 years,” said Anna Aurilio, Washington. D.C., office director of Environment America. “Sen. McCain focused on the oil, coal and nukes of the past, while Sen. Obama called for a new energy economy fueled by renewable energy such as wind and solar, investments in clean technologies of the future and 5 million new jobs. From Senator Obama on down the ballot, the candidates who won were talking about a clean energy future and voters understood that this was the key to a stronger economy, a more secure world and the solution to global warming,” she added.
Despite opposition from the current administration, the states have moved forward on a suite of policies including renewable electricity standards, limits on automobile global warming pollution, and economy wide caps on state and regional global warming emissions. For example, 28 states have passed a renewable electricity standard requiring increased production of wind, solar and other clean power.
“This is now a clean energy Congress—65 percent of new House members and all of the new Senate members come from states with strong renewable electricity requirements,” said Aurilio. “This wind shift is clearly illustrated by New Mexico voters’ decision to elect Tom Udall to the U.S. Senate, filling a seat held by the number one Senate opponent of clean energy, Pete Domenici, with the lead sponsor of the renewable electricity standard in the U.S House,” continued Aurilio.
“Also, the man who may be Oregon’s newest Senator, Jeff Merkley, led the fight as the Speaker of the Oregon House for one of the country’s strongest renewable electricity standards with a House almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans,” she added.
In addition to renewable electricity standards, 14 states have adopted clean cars standards to limit pollution from tailpipes and 6 states have enacted tough caps on global warming pollution.
Environment America illustrated even states that are still dominated by the coal and auto industries and heavy manufacturing have embraced the clean energy economy. Suppliers of automotive glass in Toledo are replacing flagging orders from the auto industry with new technologies for solar panels. In Battle Creek, Michigan United Solar Ovonic is building a $220 million solar panel factory that will employ about 350 people.
“Sen. Obama defied conventional wisdom and swept the Midwest on the promise of using clean energy to revitalize economy. Voters in some of the hardest hit states made the connection between rebuilding the economy and repowering America,” said Aurilio. “Those Americans will be looking to the new president and Congress to deliver energy savings, new green jobs, and environmental benefits by boosting wind and solar power as well putting us on the path for independence from oil.”
As the new administration takes office and the 111th Congress begins to set its agenda, the environmental community is urging a commitment to clean energy to revitalize the economy and curb global warming pollution.
“Environment America is calling on President-elect Obama and the new Clean Energy Congress to repower, refuel and rebuild America with clean energy,” said Aurilio. “We need to repower America with 100 percent clean electricity, refuel America by cutting our oil dependence in half, and rebuild America by creating 5 million new jobs through investment in wind power, solar power, energy efficiency and public transportation,” she concluded.
Environment America will co-host a press conference with other national environmental organizations to discuss the environment and clean energy under our new president and Congress. The event will be held on Nov. 5 at 2 PM at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The news advisory can be found at PRNewswire.