While economic issues have far overshadowed environmental ones in the 2010 election cycle in the United States, the stakes on Tuesday for clean water, clean air, and protecting natural open spaces are high.
Update 11/6 – See Beth’s environmental election results wrap-up here.
Environmental Implications of Election 2010
- Congressional Leadership and Obama’s Environmental Agenda
Political party control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will determine key leadership roles that could make or break much of President Obama’s environmental agenda. A GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate could put arch environmental opponent and climate change denier James Inhofe in charge of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Inhofe was on the League of Conservation Voter’s Dirty Dozen list for his abysmal environmental record and, according to OpenCongress.org, has voted in favor oil interests 100% of the time.
- State Races and Momentum on Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Energy
The relative green-ness of governor and state legislative candidates elected around the country will affect whether the states can keep driving innovative climate change and open space policy forward as well how they vigorously they enforce federal air and water protection laws. States have traditionally been the laboratory for public policy that eventually affects the whole nation. Even as the U.S. Congress grid locked on climate and energy policy during the last few years, the states have been pushing forward, passing clean energy incentives, efficiency programs, and cutting edge climate policy around the country.
- The Environment in Your Own Backyard
Local races will have immediate impacts on environmental quality of life issues as city and town councils decide priorities for open space use, recycling programs, public transit and more. With everything from bottled water bans and plastic bag taxes and bike lanes and Cool Cities initiatives, local government leaders can enhance or hinder environmental issue that affect citizen’s daily lives.
- Vote Directly on Environmental Policy
And finally, ballot initiatives in dozens of states will directly change environmental laws and fund (or not fund) the conservation of some of America’s great natural places. Prop 23 in California would suspend the state’s landmark climate legislation and have a chilling effect on similar efforts around the country. Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy amendment (Question “1″) would create dedicated funding for critical wetlands restoration. Conservation funding, in fact, is on the ballot in at least half a dozen states, including Maine, where the Land for Maine’s Future program is up for renewal.
Find out which Candidates are Most Green in Your State
The League of Conservation Voters, Environment America, and the Sierra Club all have state affiliates or chapters which have endorsed candidates and ballot measures in the 2010 election. LCV and the Sierra Club have posted summaries of endorsements for federal offices, but for state and local races, you’ll have to check your state program’s web site. Because the groups priorities vary, do check all three for endorsements, especially on ballot initiatives.
What Else Can You Do?
Share this post. Encourage your friends and family not to sit out Election 2010. Our environment depends on it.