More than 100 million people voted in the midterm elections—nearly 48 percent of all eligible voters. That’s far more than the 39 percent of voters that voted in the 2014 midterms. It’s the highest turnout for a midterm election in more than 50 years.
People voted passionately. And, ultimately we can celebrate several victories and progress made for climate change and clean energy issues.
While several high-profile renewable energy bills failed to pass—a carbon tax in Washington, elevated renewable energy standards in Arizona, and increased regulation on natural gas fracking in Colorado—the overall news was good. For example, voters in Nevada gave initial approval of a 50% renewable energy mandate for their state. And, many pro-environment and pro-renewable energy leaders were elected.
Congress Will Focus More on Science and Climate Change
Democrats with demonstrated records of supporting clean energy took back the majority in the House of Representatives. They plan to make climate change one of their highest priorities, reinstating the committee on climate change as well as fighting some of the regulatory decreases at the EPA. Their goal is bipartisan work to reduce pollution and climate change.
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson from Texas, who won reelection this week, is projected to be the new leader of the House science committee, replacing Lamar Smith, the former leader who fought to cut funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. Johnson, the first nurse elected to US Congress, pledges to prioritize renewable energy and climate change research.
New Governors and Representatives Support the Paris Climate Agreement
For the past few years, most climate leadership in America has come up from the people through state and local governments, rather than from the top-down. That trend will continue, and with even more momentum thanks to the people elected on Tuesday, both as governors and as representatives on states’ congresses.
Illinois elected a pro-clean energy governor, J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker has called for Illinois to reach 50 percent renewables by 2025, and 100 percent by 2050. Six other states who had not already agreed to uphold the Paris climate agreement—Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin—elected governors concerned about and willing to act on climate change. While the actual clean energy policies that may come are yet to be seen, the Wisconsin and Michigan have already committed to 100% carbon-free electricity in the years ahead.
We All Can Create a Cleaner Future, Together
Regardless of political party affiliations, Americans overwhelmingly support renewable energy. What the elections showed is that, while solar and wind are popular, proponents and supporters will continue to fight against a fossil fuels-based future.
While there is much more work to do, a renewable energy is gaining ground, slowly but surely. Now is the time to celebrate the successes, and look forward to the opportunities for progress ahead.
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