Did Americans reject clean energy by voting Republican?
US environmentalists concede disappointment at the GOP's surge, but say the defeat of California Prop. 23 shows voters were motivated by the economy and not a rejection of clean energy.
US environmentalists, assessing the Republican tsunami that washed over the country, chose Wednesday to tout a key Election Day victory in beating back California's Proposition 23, a ballot initiative that would have reversed clean-energy requirements statewide – and led quite possibly to similar initiatives in other states.Skip to next paragraph
It was a sign, they said, that voters were not rejecting clean energy or the environment, but were responding to concerns about jobs and housing.
"In the one race where the words ‘global warming’ were literally on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly voted for clean energy, and did so in a state with the country’s third highest unemployment rate," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. "This victory 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.”
But at the congressional level overall, Mr. Karpinski conceded, "we are of course disappointed" since a number of pro-environment voices were defeated.
Despite efforts by environmentalists to portray the election result as a glass half full, the big electoral swing to the Republicans was clearly "a wake-up call" for the White House and states trying to regulate emissions, noted Kevin Book, an energy analyst with ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington market research firm.
That wake-up is led by the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
"Increasing domestic energy production through an all-of-the-above energy plan and ensuring that public lands are actually open to the public" are priorities for the new Republican-led House and Natural Resources Committee, according to Rep. Doc Hastings of Wash. the ranking Republican on the committee. He noted on the minority's portion of the committee's website that "the livelihoods of rural communities, especially in the West, are dependent on the smart use of our public lands, water, timber, minerals and energy resources."