Climate change supporters suffer losses

Despite millions spent to make climate change a wedge issue during the midterms, environmentally friendly candidates didn’t fare well on Election Day.

Green groups funneled an unprecedented amount of money into top Senate races that determined control of the upper chamber but fell short.

ADVERTISEMENT
The nation’s top environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate spent at least $85 million on six Senate races.

Out of those six races, only two candidates willing to take action on climate change won their races.

In Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters (D) won, and in New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) held on to her seat. But Republicans picked up crucial Senate seats in Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina.

The results are still out for the final Senate race greens collectively spent on, Sen. Mark Begich’s (D) reelection bid in Alaska.

“Despite the climate movement’s significant investments and an unprecedented get-out-the-vote program, strong voices for climate action were defeated, and candidates paid for by corporate interests and bolstered by sinister voter suppression tactics won the day,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said on Wednesday.

But Brune said that the climate fight isn’t over.

“This election marked a pivotal change in how candidates confront the climate crisis,” he said. “We’re not backing down.

"Public support is solidly behind action to tackle the climate crisis. While we have lost friends in Congress, we are gaining them in the streets, as our movement grows stronger and broader," Brune added.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said greens will continue to back leaders on climate on both sides.

“Whatever may have driven individual races, the American people want action on climate change,” Beinecke said.

“They didn’t vote to roll back foundational environmental safeguards for the sake of polluter profits. We will empower the voice of the people," she said.

Greens will have to gear up to help the administration defend the president’s signature carbon pollution rules for existing power plants, which are high on Republican's hit list.

“Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and in state capitols across America, are prepared to take on the administration’s misguided, overreaching regulatory climate crusade,” Mike Duncan, CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a statement Wednesday.

With the new GOP majority, President Obama’s agenda will be under fire. While Republicans might be able to push through votes blocking the administration’s climate regulations, they are sure to be vetoed by the president.

The White House said on Tuesday that Obama would continue to take executive action on climate change and will not look to Congress for approval.