Advocates for taking rapid action to avoid an increasingly likely human-caused climate catastrophe celebrated as candidates across the country who have campaigned on a implementing a Green New Deal and fighting to phase out fossil fuels that have driven global warming won their midterm races on Tuesday while Democrats recaptured the U.S. House of Representatives.
"We need public officials who refuse to be bought and paid for by Big Oil and can stand up for groundbreaking climate policy like a Green New Deal."
—May Boeve, 350.org
Those candidates, described by some as "climate hawks," included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York—who, at 29, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress—Deb Haaland of New Mexico, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Antonio Delgado, also of New York.
"We need public officials who refuse to be bought and paid for by Big Oil and can stand up for groundbreaking climate policy like a Green New Deal," declared 350 Action executive director May Boeve. "Candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Deb Haaland, and Ilhan Omar ran on platforms supporting a phase out of fossil fuels and toward 100 percent renewable energy, and won."
"We may never be able to outspend oil and gas executives, so it's our job to build a political movement large enough that our voices drown out their dirty money," Boeve added. "It's time to say 'no' to fossil fuel money and invest in renewable energy solutions that put millions to work in family-supporting union jobs."
Since her shocking primary upset in a reliably blue New York district earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez has been heralded as one of Congress' next climate leaders. While some scientists have charged that her "Green New Deal lacks some important details" and called for fleshing out the proposal, the prospect of pairing labor programs with measures to combat the climate crisis has been widely welcomed by experts and progressives alike.
"This is the sort of bold and audacious thinking that we need when it comes to confronting the ever-pressing challenge of averting catastrophic climate change," Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, told The Huffington Post Tuesday night.
Although the contingent of Green New Deal supporters in the House could have been bigger—Randy Bryce lost his race in Wisconsin and Kevin de León, who was behind California's historic 100 percent renewable energy bill, failed to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein—some other advocates for climate action were able to win their races on Tuesday.
Scientist and clean energy entrepreneur Sean Casten, who campaigned on the line that he "has dedicated his life to fighting climate change," unseated Republican incumbent Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois' historically red 6th District in the Chicago suburbs. As 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben noted on Twitter late Tuesday, Casten "is going to be one of the most climate-savvy folks in Congress right from the get-go."
Environmental attorney Mike Levin of California—who, like Casten, was endorsed by the Climate Hawks Vote political action committee—is expected to win in the San Diego area district previously held by retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.
Democrats also won or were projected to win five other "hotly contested" seats in districts where more than two-thirds of residents are worried about the climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported:
- Anti-pipeline and offshore drilling Democrat Tom Malinowski beat Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in New Jersey's seventh district.
- Democrat Colin Allred, who wants to rejoin the Paris agreement, defeated incumbent Republican Pete Sessions, who wants to scale back the EPA. This is in Texas' 32nd district, which saw unusually deadly storms and flooding this fall.
- Also in Texas, Republican incumbent John Culberson lost to Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in the seventh district that includes parts of Houston deeply impacted by Hurricane Harvey last year.
- Florida's 26th district is its southernmost point, already grappling with tidal flooding due to sea level rise. Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo was not a climate denier, and in fact founded the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. But Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell promised more environmental action and won.
- The race between Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic challenger Harley Rouda for California's 48th district, which includes parts of coastal Orange County at risk from sea level rise, is still too close to call. But Rouda, who opposed offshore oil drilling and promised clean energy, is leading.