Advocates for mandatory action on greenhouse emissions—they're now calling themselves "climate hawks"—took a shellacking last night. Here's a sampling of the punditry and reporting, which accompanies my livetweeting results as they happened.
There's no hiding the House Democrats' bloodbath, with more than two dozen members who voted for the Pelosi-led climate bill losing their seats, and more likely to fall as the final tallies come in. The outcome sends a strong signal to moderate lawmakers as they consider any risky votes in future Congress' on energy and environmental issues.
"It's going to be cap and tax forever more, and I don't think any of these guys are ever going to touch it again," said Linda Stuntz, an industry attorney who held a top Energy Department spot during the George W. Bush administration. "I think anyone who thinks there's vitality left is kidding themselves."
On the defeat of longtime Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat who voted for the climate bill last year. (He'd argued that regulating carbon with a law would be better than letting the EPA control it with the existing Clean Air Act.):
"I don't think there's any question about it, cap and trade was the issue in the campaign," Andy Wright, a former Boucher chief of staff, told POLITICO. "If Rick had voted no, he wouldn't have had a serious contest."
Grist, somewhat unpersuasively, sees "plenty of counter-examples":
In Kentucky, a coal state that just elected Ayn Randian ubermensch Rand Paul to the Senate, Rep. John Yarmuth (D) and Rep. Ben Chandler (D) both voted for the bill and held onto their seats.
This isn't exactly a revelation, but exit polls reveal that this election was about the economy.
From the Natural Resources Defense Council:
There is no mandate for GOP climate positions in this election. Quite the contrary: a series of recent polls shows that a commanding majority of the public continues to support clean energy and climate legislation.
A full 62 percent of independents, for instance, see global warming as a problem that justifies national leadership, according to a survey commissioned by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that 87 percent of Americans favor legislation that would require utilities to generate more electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. And 78 percent favor tougher energy efficiency standards.
Numbers like these constitute a mandate.
Rare good news for the climate hawks in California, Reuters reported:
One of the world's most ambitious laws to combat global warming survived a challenge on Tuesday as California voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have put the state's plans for more renewable energy and a market to curb greenhouse gases on ice.
The defeat of Proposition 23 marked a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who poured millions of dollars into defending California's AB 32 law and protecting their massive investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars.
After the failure of federal climate legislation in Congress this year , the fate of California's law was viewed as a US turning point – either away from addressing global warming or toward stronger action to curb greenhouse gases.
"This is reaffirmation that we are a country of some enlightenment," said Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, a trade group.
How much enlightenment? Today, as advocates on each side of the issue re-evaluate the redrawn political map, the answer depends on whom you ask.