Americans Want More Clean Energy & Climate Action, Not Less

Capital Building Dome by David Paul Ohmer
The Capital Building Dome by David Paul Ohmer (Flickr)

Saying things that are boring but true won’t get you invited on all the Sunday talk shows. You’ll get a lot more attention for saying things that are interesting but unjustified. Just look at the media’s analysis of Tuesday’s elections & the role of the American Clean Energy & Security (ACES) Act.

The boring truth: The president’s party tends to lose seats in mid-term elections. And when the mid-term elections come in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression, the wave can be especially high.

However, the boring truth doesn’t sell newspapers or draw clicks, so instead we get analysis pinning Tuesday’s election results on anything else – including House passage of the ACES Act.

But the reality just doesn’t back up that storyline. According to a new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll (PDF), voters continue to strongly support clean energy & climate action:

  • 55% support an energy bill that would limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy.
  • 58% back Environmental Protection Agency regulation of global warming pollution from sources like power plants, cars and factories.
  • When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked in an open ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1% cited something related to energy or cap & trade.

What about the effect of ACES on the re-election chances of members of Congress? As Brad Johnson reported, it’s far from cut & dried:

  • Out of the 211 Democrats who voted for ACES, only 41 either lost or retired and saw their seats go Republican. Thus 81 percent of Democrats voting for the climate bill won their races.
  • Of the 44 Democrats who voted against ACES, 28 lost, retired and lost the seat to Republicans, or in the case of Parker Griffith flipped parties and lost the Republican primary. That means 64 percent of Democrats voting against the climate bill lost their seat.
  • Of the eight Republicans who voted for the bill, only one was punished by the voters — Rep. Mike Castle (DE-AL), who lost his U.S. Senate primary to eventual loser Christine O’Donnell. Reps. Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Dave Reichert (WA-8), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), Chris Smith (NJ-4), and Leonard Lance (NJ-7) were re-elected. Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-10) was elected to the U.S. Senate and Rep. John McHugh (NY-23) became Secretary of the Army.

In fact, climate action was literally on the ballot in one state. Big polluters got behind Prop 23, a campaign to kill California’s climate law. The result? Voters stood by climate action & rejected special interest-funded obstructionism, rejecting Prop 23 61% to 39% — the largest margin of any proposition on the ballot in California this year.

Members of the 112th Congress will get a chance to quickly signal to voters whether they share their priorities on clean energy & climate action. President Obama has said bipartisan, bite-sized energy reforms remain at the top of his agenda. And the Clean Air Act’s protections against carbon pollution are expected to once again come under fire from Big Oil’s allies. At every step of the way, the National Wildlife Federation will be there to remind our elected officials that Americans support creating clean energy jobs, cutting carbon pollution, and protecting America’s natural resources for our children’s future.

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Published: November 5, 2010