US Elections: The ‘Green Wave’ that failed to materialise
The United States presidential race is still up in the air, and the battle for control of the Senate appears far from over. But one thing is clear the day after Election Day 2020: The “green wave” that environmentalists had hoped for failed to materialize.
There were bright spots for the environment. In the Senate, two Democrats, John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Mark Kelly in Arizona, have defeated incumbent Republicans who have received poor marks from environmental and conservation groups for their voting records.
Mr. Kelly was endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote, a progressive group that promotes candidates who promise to take action on climate change. Mr. Hickenlooper was not. While he declared during the campaign that action on climate change was urgently needed, his past ties to the oil and gas industry in Colorado made some groups wary.
Mr. Hickenlooper could turn out to be the greenest of green lawmakers, but if Democrats don’t win control of the Senate it might make little difference. While the House looks certain to remain in Democratic hands, in the Senate the party needs more victories: Two, if Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the presidency, which would allow Kamala Harris to break tie votes; or three, if President Trump is re-elected. Even two more Democratic victories seemed less likely on Wednesday than they did before the vote count began.
Climate and the environment were front and center in several state and local elections, and the outcomes appear certain in a few of those.
In a Texas race that was closely watched by environmental groups, a Democrat, Chrysta Castañeda, appears to have lost her bid to serve on the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator. The Republican candidate, Jim Wright, led by nearly 10 percentage points, with most of the votes counted, according to Decision Desk HQ.
As my colleague Lisa Friedman wrote recently, Ms. Castañeda’s campaign received an infusion of $2.5 million from the billionaire Michael Bloomberg in hopes that a Democrat would win a seat on the three-member commission for the first time in the 21st century and prompt more oversight on climate-related issues like methane flaring. Mr. Wright, who was supported by the oil and gas industry, was criticized by environmental groups for promoting fringe theories about climate change and renewable energy.