While environmental groups acknowledge that they lost many supporters in the 2010 mid-term elections, they add that the election was not a referendum on environmental issues, but on the economy and jobs.
“This was an election about unhappiness over the economy, first and last, and the majority paid the price,” says Rodger Schlickeisen, president, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.
“We lost a lot of champions and a lot of long-timer supporters,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. But he adds that voters still overwhelmingly support clean energy and curbing pollution. Brune points to California voters’ rejection of Proposition 23 on Nov. 2, which would have repealed the state’s clean energy and climate law, as an example of public support for environmental reforms.
A poll released Nov. 3 by the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations showed that majorities of voters support both clean energy reforms and Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon pollution under the clean Air Act.
The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found that 58% of the survey group--1,000 voters who cast ballots in 83 “battleground” districts—support the regulation of greenhouse gases from powerplants, cars and factories to reduce global warming.
“There was no mandate on turning back the clock on environmental protection,” says Heather Taylor-Miesle, director the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “Polls galore show continued and strong public support for making continued progress to protect our health and boost our economy.”
Anna Aurilio, director of the D.C. office of Environment America, says, “A big question here in Washington, D.C. will be whether Congress responds to public support for clean energy, clean air and clean water, or is beholden to the polluters who invested heavily in these elections.”
Aurilio says there is bipartisan support in Congress for incentives for green building and a Renewable Energy Standard, which she says will spur job creation. “A RES is a no-brainer,” she says.
But she adds that Republicans will likely continue to push bills to block or delay EPA regulations greenhouse gases, and “revive their strategy of trying to slip anti-environmental provisions into must-pass legislation” like appropriations bills.