Last week's election will have major consequences for U.S. climate and energy policy. Republicans won a net victory of 60 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate, and at least 6 governorships. A number of climate champions lost tight races to candidates who deny climate science, but in California's Prop 23, the only race with global warming on the ballot, climate won by a decisive margin.
With hope of a climate bill this summer stamped out by partisan politics, the House and Senate have been working to pass narrowly-focused oil spill response and drilling reform measures. The House bill passed on Friday, 209-193, with two Republicans supporting it. The Senate bill failed to attract bipartisan support, and is being postponed until after recess. Members of the House are on recess beginning this week, and the Senate will follow suit after voting on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation later in the week. August recess will be a key time to hold senators accountable for their inaction on climate and energy.
Last week, a million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan. My wife grew up on that river. She recalls a childhood watching the ducks, egrets, and fish that populated the river just out her back door. We were married right along the river on a warm day in July fourteen years ago. For us, it was a symbol of the flow and continuity of life. My wife sobbed as we watched the news reports about the spill, knowing it may or may not converge into Lake Michigan and that the clean up is expected to take months.
By Clean Water Minnesota organizer Darrell Gerber. -- Luis
Minnesota experienced an incredibly rare occurrence this year: for the first time in over 100 years, it has not snowed in the month of March. While other parts of the country are experiencing damaging snows and torrential rains, we have seen the other side of the coin. We can’t necessarily attribute this to climate change but it certainly has been on the minds of many across Minnesota.
It was against this backdrop that a group of dedicated activists showed up last Monday (3/29) on an unusually beautiful day at Rep. Tim Walz’s office in Mankato, Minnesota. They were there to thank him for his vote last year on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act; the only comprehensive climate and energy bill to pass either body of Congress. (See pictures from the event below.)
By Clean Water Action organizer Jesse Worker. -- Luis
As we stood outside Rep. Mark Schauer's office (MI-7th) in the bright spring sunshine holding signs reading "A storm of support: Thank you for protecting the Clean Air Act" and "Mark Schauer brings clean energy power," I couldn't help but recall my first visit to his office just days before the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) act vote. Rep. Schauer was a first-term Congressman whom Clean Water Action (my organization in Michigan), had worked hard to get into office based on his strong environmental platform. After a productive discussion of why the ACES bill was so important for Michigan's economic and environmental future, we received a call on the day of the vote from his office assuring us that he would be supporting the bill.