Environmentalists insist midterms not a ‘referendum’ on climate votes
Environmentalists scrambled today to get control of the midterm narrative following a crushing defeat for Democrats in the House and Senate.
At a press conference today at the National Press Club, the heads of the major environmental groups stressed to reporters that the midterm election was not a “referendum” on climate change.
As I noted in my story this morning, in total, more than 43 Democrats who voted for the House climate bill either lost their races or retired their seats, which were then won by Republicans. The two most stinging defeats, and the ones cited in most energy-related stories on the issue (including mine), were those of Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who worked furiously behind the scenes to secure benefits for his coal-dependent state in the bill before finally giving his “yes” vote, and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who became something of a celebrity on the left for standing by the more liberal wing of his party on a number of key votes, including cap-and-trade, despite the conservative makeup of his district.
But cap-and-trade proponents counter that 27 of the 43 Democrats who voted against the House climate bill lost their seats and point out that many other issues were at play in the races.
At the press conference today, the environmental groups — including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Environment America and the League of Conservation Voters — also released a poll surveying 1,000 voters in 83 “battleground” congressional districts that they say “clearly illustrates that members’ support for the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) did not contribute to this defeat.”
In the poll, Republican voters were asked to name their biggest concern with the Democrat running in the race. While 27 percent chose voting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) agenda, only 7 percent said it was because the Democrat supported the House cap-and-trade bill when offered a list of six options.
In polling results conducted in Perriello’s district, only 5 percent of the people who voted for Hurt said their biggest concern was Perriello’s vote for the House cap-and-trade bill.
The environmentalists also touted California voters’ rejection of Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state’s landmark climate change law. They said California was the only state where climate change was on the ballot and therefore was the only case where the votes could be a referendum on climate change.
There was no mention at the press conference of California’s Proposition 26, which would require that any new fees imposed on industry be approved by a two-thirds vote in the state legislature. The ballot initiative, which passed, could greatly impact the implementation of the states climate law, environmentalists have said.