How did environmental issues fare in Tuesday's election?

Keith Gaby

If you’ve been around politics for a while, you know that things run in cycles.

The sixth year of a presidency rarely brings good election results for the party in the White House, and we saw that again on Tuesday. There’s no question that some good candidates lost, some bad ones won - and that we may have some tough fights ahead.

But it’s important to remember that it was candidates who lost, and not environmental issues.

Americans support environmental protection

In an election focused mostly on other topics, we saw no sign of Americans backing away from their support for common-sense climate solutions. Two-thirds of the public has consistently supported the Obama administration’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants, and there’s no indication that has changed.

Here at Environmental Defense Fund, we work with Democrats and Republicans, grassroots citizens and business, to meet our environmental goals. So if new leaders in Congress have fresh ideas for solving our toughest environmental challenges in the coming year, we’ll be eager to listen.

At the same time, we’ll fight hard to stop any attempts to weaken protections for our air, water and land – or to roll back important first steps to solve climate change.

Clean energy gets attention

While most of the election was fought on other issues, there were places where environmental issue and clean energy were a focus.

In coal states such as Kentucky and West Virginia there were campaign ads attacking the Environmental Protection Agency, but in most races around the nation, pro-environment positions seemed to dominate.

Tom Wolf, who will be the new governor of Pennsylvania, used pro-environment positions to distinguish himself from incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett. In industrial Michigan, clean energy was a major component of the winning message for Senator-elect Gary Peters.

And Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins in Maine and Rep. Chris Gibson in New York showed their party that a positive message on clean energy is politically powerful.

Perhaps the best news of the last few months has been the growing grassroots movement for climate action.

In September, we saw 400,000 march in New York for climate action. In Colorado, EDF’s Defend Our Future campaign - an effort aimed at young people - collected 125,000 pledges to vote for climate action. There is no question that the climate movement is growing.

The fight continues - like it always has

So what happens next?

Some members of Congress will probably over-reach and try to dismantle important environmental protections, including EPA’s Clean Power Plan. But we just need to keep fighting for our cause.

Our goal, protecting future generations from the dangerous impacts of climate change, is simply too important to ignore.

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