Environment Wins in Democratic Landslide
WASHINGTON, DC, November 8, 2006 (ENS) - Democrats upset Republicans
across the country Tuesday to win control of the House of
Representatives for the first time since 1994 - spelling an end to
the terms of some of the legislators most disliked by
The Democrats could also win control of the U.S. Senate, but that
outcome hinges on close races in Montana and Virginia.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California will move into the
Speaker's seat, becoming the first woman Speaker of the House in U.S.
history. Her environmental views match those of conservationists,
particularly on climate and energy issues.
Pelosi supports legislation to control global warming introduced by
Democrats earlier this year. The measure would establish a market-
based emissions trading system for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Nancy Pelosi of California will become the first woman Speaker of the
House in U.S. history. (Photo courtesy Office of the Congresswoman)
"The Safe Climate Act will harness free market forces to ensure that
our nation takes the steps necessary to prevent dangerous,
irreversible warming of our planet," Pelosi said in July.
Her position is opposite to that of the Bush administration and the
Republican Congressional leaders who have attempted to deny and
suppress evidence of climate change.
Pelosi opposes drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. "We should not sacrifice the Arctic coastal plain,
one of America's last truly wild places, for the sake of a small
amount of oil," she said.
"Democrats are stepping forward with new ideas and new solutions,"
Pelosi said. "We can't drill our way to energy independence but we
can grow our way to energy independence. America's farmers are ready
to grow energy crops that will end our dependence on oil from
"Today, the American people voted for change, and they voted for
Democrats to take our country in a new direction. And that is exactly
what we intend to do," Pelosi said.
In California's 11th Congressional District, Congressman Richard
Pombo, who had used his position as chair of the House Resources
Committee to weaken the Endangered Species Act, was defeated by Jerry
McNerney, a wind engineering and renewable energy professional.
Heavy spending on anti-Pombo commercials by out-of-state
environmental groups helped tip the balance against the seven-term
California voters elected Democrat Jerry McNerney to replace
Congressman Richard Pombo. (Photo courtesy McNerney campaign)
As McNerney outpaced Pombo, the Sierra Club declared
victory. "Pombo's defeat is not just a victory for the people of
California's 11th-district, said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl
Pope. "This is a moment to be savored by anyone who loves Yosemite
National Park or the California coast or Giant Sequoia National
Monument, places Pombo worked to mine, drill, or log."
"On the issue of energy policy in particular, America is extremely
fortunate to be replacing someone who's energy priorities were
dictated by Big Oil with a man who is an expert on renewable wind
power and who has the vision to help our nation develop smart new
energy technologies and jobs," said Pope.
The League of Conservation Voters used a radio ad to inform voters
about "the $120,000 Pombo has taken from Big Oil, his ties to
disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his use of a taxpayer money to rent
an RV for a family vacation, and the fact that dirty air and water
are not a concern of his."
Calling him the "leading opponent of animal welfare in Congress," the
Humane Society Legislative Fund launched a campaign to help defeat
Pombo. The group cited Pombo's support of commercial whaling, horse
slaughter, bear baiting on public lands and the use of leghold traps
on National Wildlife Refuges.
But California voters rejected the costliest ballot initiative
campaign in state history, defeating Proposition 87 that would have
taxed state oil production to fund alternative energy research to the
tune of $4 billon.
Oil field in California's Kern County. California is the third-
largest on-shore oil producing state. (Photo courtesy BLM)
Oil companies spent close to $100 million to kill Proposition 87,
saying they already pay too much in California's high corporate
income tax and other taxes.
Other conservation initiatives were approved by voters, including a
$17 million Arizona bond for recreational opportunities, open spaces
In Alaska, a $3.95 million bond to protect water quality and to
preserve and enhance open space and natural areas failed by a narrow
Michigan turned down the shooting of mourning doves, authorized by a
bill narrowly passed by the legislature and signed into law by
Governor Jennifer Granholm last year. The new law permitted the
shooting of mourning doves in Michigan for the first time since 1905.
The Committee to Keep Doves Protected successfully campaigned to
overturn the bill and to restore Michigan's 100 year tradition of
protecting the mourning dove, Michigan's official bird of peace.
California voters appeared likely to approve Proposition 1E, which
proposes $4.1 billion in debt financing for levee repair and flood
control programs to shore up the state's deteriorating levee system
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Early this morning the measure
had 63 percent support.
Proposition 84, a measure seeking $5.4 billion for California flood
control, water and natural resource projects, had won 52 percent of
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who won an easy
reelection victory, had campaigned in favor of the measures.
Elsewhere across the country, Democrats took the majority of the 36
states that elected governors, and Democrats now hold 28 governors'
New York voters chose Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to
replace departing Republican Governor George Pataki, whose
environmental advances included the preservation of millions of acres
of open space and parklands.
Massachusetts elected Deval Patrick as its first black governor to
succeed incumbent Republican Governor Mitt Romney, who did not run
for a second term. Patrick becomes only the second black governor
ever elected from any state.
Wilderness on New Mexico's Otero Mesa is threatened by oil and gas
exploration. (Photo by Raymond Watt courtesy New Mexico Wilderness
Democrats were reelected in Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New
Hampshire, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico and Tennessee, while
Republicans were returned to office in Georgia, Nebraska, Connecticut
In Colorado, Democrat Bill Ritter defeated GOP Congressman Bob
Beauprez to claim the governor's mansion.
Arkansas chose a Democrat, attorney general Mike Beebe, over
Republican Asa Hutchinson, who served as one of the prosecutors
during the Senate impeachment trial of Arkansas native son President
Bill Clinton in 1998.
Republicans for Environmental Protection, REP, said the Republican
Party must learn from its Tuesday election losses by focusing on
solving national problems that concern citizens instead of catering
to special interest agendas.
REP President Martha Marks said, "It's too bad that the wayward
actions of party leaders tarnished Republicans as a whole and cost
some of our most conscientious, responsive, and pro-environment
Republican lawmakers their jobs."
"Exit polls Tuesday night showed that citizens were very upset about
ethical lapses in Congress," said Marks. "The corrosive effects of
catering to narrow, parochial agendas not only caused scandals, but
it resulted in our party failing to lead on the urgent energy and
climate challenges facing our nation."
"True conservatism does not condone greed, arrogance or waste. It
requires us to be prudent, exercise restraint, and act in the long-
term interest of both present and future generations," said REP
Government Affairs Director David Jenkins. "That legitimate brand of
conservatism would have prevailed at the polls. It is too bad that so
many of our party leaders are strangers to it."