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Election Day Victory for Environment and Clean Energy - Environmental Champions Elected to Congress, White House

Environmental groups are praising American voters for electing pro-environment candidates across the country. President-Elect Barack Obama repeatedly said that rebuilding the economy with clean energy would be "priority number one" in his administration. Environmental groups today called on Obama and the new Congress to translate the extraordinary attention paid to energy and environmental issues during the campaigns into action in the coming year.

"Change was the great rallying cry of this election and America’s energy future was a key issue for voters looking for change," said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. "The story of this election will be that the American people made a choice between the failed energy policies of the past and a new, clean, renewable energy future. The environmental community came together as never before to help voters make the right choice for America’s future."

Despite pro-environment majorities in both houses, the 110th Congress left behind a record of failure and missed opportunity on most global warming and energy issues. Too often, a minority in the Senate used the threat of filibuster to block important energy legislation. While many Senate races remain too close to call, we are closer than ever to a principal goal of the environmental community, a 60-vote, filibuster proof, pro-environment majority. In April, the community announced its Big Three 2008 targets: the Senate races in Colorado, New Hampshire and New Mexico. Over the summer, the community expanded its efforts into Senate races in Alaska, North Carolina, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, and other races in key states.

"Working together, environmental organizations carefully chose races where the outcome would make a difference to America’s energy and environmental policy and in which our work could have decisive impact," said John DeCock, president of Clean Water Action. "With those targets in mind, we began the largest electoral campaign efforts in the history of the environmental movement."

Groups went door-to-door, ran phone banks, ran ads and organized online, convincing voters to support the candidates that have the best environmental track record. All together, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, Environment America, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, and the Sierra Club contacted voters 6,200,000 times in critical states and districts. Television and radio ads aired tens of thousands of times in targeted markets.

"This is now a clean energy Congress - 65 percent of new members of the House and all new members of the Senate come from states with strong renewable electricity requirements," said Anna Aurilio, Washington DC office director of Environment America. "From Senator Obama on down the ballot, the candidates who won were talking about a clean energy future and voters understood that this was the key to a stronger economy, a more secure world, and the solution to global warming."

Scientists agree that to avert the worst effects of global warming, America and the rest of the world must quickly convert from a pollution-based economy to an economy powered by clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. In 2008, candidates from across the political spectrum campaigned on breaking America’s addition to oil and implementing clean energy solutions.

In 2006, 17 campaign ads prominently featured images of windmills as a shorthand for clean energy. In 2008, that number is above 54, with candidates from every region and at every level featuring solar panels and windmills in TV ads and mail pieces.

Another success of this election was the wide spread support for clean energy that transcended party, geography, and demographics. From sportsmen to students to unions, conservation groups worked with new constituencies this cycle to elect new candidates who will lead the country into the clean energy future.

"These election results just confirm what our polls have shown - sportsmen are looking to hear about more than just gun rights. They want conservation candidates who'll champion clean energy solutions," said Sue Brown, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. "Now they'll be looking to our new Congress and new president to deliver clear results on clean energy and climate."

Today, the environmental community celebrates success, not only in electing larger pro-environment majorities in both houses of Congress, but also helping to elect Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

"For the first time, candidates and voters are really connecting the dots between energy, the environment and the economy. Barack Obama, in particular, made it clear that investing in cleaner energy will be 'priority number one' in his plans for economic recovery," said Sierra Club Political Director Cathy Duvall. "Two consecutive elections now show a clear demand from the voters for the clean energy solutions that will put us on the path to economic recovery. Our champions have the mandate they need to move forward on solutions like wind and solar power and more energy efficient buildings and transportation."