Climate Action And 100% Clean Energy Are Breakout Midterm Issues

This election cycle, Democratic candidates running for office at all levels of government are making bold action on climate and clean energy a central campaign issue by running vocal ads on the topic, calling out opponents’ denial and inaction, and committing to a 100% clean energy transition. This new emphasis couldn't come at a better time, as a harrowing new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that we have just over a decade to dramatically scale up climate action if we are going to prevent some of the most extreme consequences of dependence on fossil fuels.


The most remarkable development of the 2018 midterm cycle is the incredible number of of gubernatorial candidates who have expressed their support for a transition to 100% clean energy. As reported by Politico and relayed by LCV, these candidates include Jared Polis (CO), JB Pritzker (IL), Gavin Newsom (CA), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Kate Brown (OR), James Smith (SC), Christine Halquist (VT), Tony Evers (WI), and Ned Lamont (CT). In response, the Democratic Governors Association recently went so far as the make a profound institutional statement supporting these efforts.


This national political trend comes after over 95 cities nationwide have made a commitment to a complete renewable energy transition -- including cities run by Republican Mayors like San Diego and Abita Springs, Louisiana. It also follows the passage of transformative legislation in California and Hawaii, as well as an executive order signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy that mandates the development of an Energy Master Plan transitioning New Jersey to 100% clean energy by 2050.


This outpouring of support is not surprising when you consider that a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy polls extremely favorably in states like Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania, with strong support from over ⅔ of voters in each state.


And the price is right. According to a report from industry publication Utility Dive, “Even in Indiana, new renewables are cheaper than existing coal plants.” Just as important? Clean energy creates far more jobs that dirty fuels, and already there are far more people working in clean energy than dirty fuels.


The need for climate action is also making a strong impact on the election, with many House candidates making it central to their campaigns. For example, Democratic California House candidate Mike Levin, an environmental attorney hoping to flip the state’s historically red 49th district, is explicitly using his position on climate change to draw a stark contrast with his opponent, Republican Diane Harkey, who has said, “I am not a scientist. I can’t read all of that stuff and make a decision. It’s not where I was educated. I’m an economist person.” Levin told supporters at a recent fundraiser that, “I don’t think we have the luxury of being so uninformed in a district that has some of the leading scientists in the world.”


And Levin is not alone. His efforts echo those of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Steve Sisolak (NV), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), and Gov. Gina Raimondo (the incumbent in Rhode Island), who have also made climate and clean energy action major factors in their campaigns. Sisolak recently released a television ad promising to uphold the Paris Agreement if elected, and Grisham climbs a wind turbine in her latest campaign video while talking about the importance of clean energy jobs in New Mexico.


Sean Casten, running for Congress against Peter Roskam in Illinois’ 6th House District, is both a scientist and clean energy entrepreneur. He’s made his renewable energy background - which contrasts sharply with Roskam’s accusation that climate change is “junk science” - a key part of his platform, outlining a comprehensive plan for incentivizing a renewable energy transition and reduction in carbon pollution.


Meanwhile, Randy Bryce, a former ironworker running for Wisconsin’s first House District, joins many other new candidates in calling for a transition to 100% clean energy as well as a total end to subsidies for fossil fuels, as well as rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.


What’s clear this election cycle is that climate change and bold clean energy action are officially on the ballot next tuesday.