3 climate winners (and losers) from the California midterms

Ever since President Donald Trump began rolling back climate
efforts, environmentalists have pinned their hopes on California
— and on Election Day, they weren’t disappointed. Well,
mostly.

There was a ton on the ballot in California: Voters had to
decipher confusing initiatives concerning farm animal space
requirements, rent control, and even a proposal to perpetually stay
on daylight saving time. And many of the voters’ choices have
implications for the climate.

Overall, the recent election suggests that voters and
politicians in the state continue to embrace their role as the
keepers of the (green) flame. But there were a few surprising
exceptions. To cut through that tangle, here are three
environmental-policy winners and three losers from the California
midterms.

Winners

The solar industry

Leadership — both in the governor’s mansion, and the
statehouse where Democrats maintained a strong majority — matters
when it comes to the robustness of a state’s renewables industry,
and it’s looking mighty sunny for solar in California. California
has picked renewable energy, especially solar, as its primary tool
in forging a carbon-free future, and that’s not going to change.
There probably won’t be much difference between the environmental
policies of outgoing Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin
Newsom (Grist
wrote more on Newsom
when he was all-but-elected in the
primary). Also winning: Tesla, General Motors and other electric
automakers. Brown started policies to boost electric cars and
Newsom is likely to double down on those efforts.

Bikers and bus riders

California voters defeated an effort to repeal an existing gas
tax while at the same time approving $6 billion in bonds to build
affordable housing. Both decisions will likely nudge people to
drive less. The gas tax makes driving more expensive and provides
money for transit and infrastructure; and opening up new affordable
housing options could allow more people to live in areas where
walking, biking, and public transit are an option.

Climate skeptics

Even though the state has a deeply liberal reputation, big
sections of California are Trumpy, conservative, or some other
shade of red. The state will be sending at least a half-dozen
(we’ll update as the numbers come in) representatives  to the
U.S. House who routinely thwart climate policy. They include
Representative Duncan Hunter (California’s 50th District), who
was
recently indicted
on charges of fraudulently spending $250,000
in campaign contributions on vacations and shopping sprees. “Is
there human-caused climate change?”
Hunter asked
, rhetorically. “I don’t buy that.” (What he
allegedly does buy are video games, golfing clothes, Steelers
tickets, and lots of alcohol,
according to his indictment
.)

Losers

The Central Valley

California voters rejected Proposition 3, a bond measure
that would have paid to improve dams, provide water to families
with dry wells, and preserve wildlife areas — mostly in the
state’s rural Central Valley. Californians rarely see a bond that
they don’t love, but this one — put on the ballot by a
coalition of farmers, anti-poverty advocates, and environmentalists
— shriveled up and died like an unwatered almond tree in a
drought. Some environmental groups opposed it because it would have
given a lot of money to the dams and canals that keep agribusiness
alive.

Oil companies

Governor Brown made it a point to
include petroleum interests
when bargaining over environmental
policy, and even got the powerful Western States Petroleum
Association to
support his cap-and-trade bill
. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom

has signaled
that he’ll be more antagonistic to oil
companies.

Climate skeptics

No, this is not a typo: Climate skeptics were losers as well as
winners. Those who won were the usual suspects — lots of
incumbents in politically “safe” districts. But in toss-up
races, climate became an important issue for candidates. The votes
are still being counted (and we will update this, too), but it
looks like Democrats will pick up at least one seat in the U.S.
House formerly held by climate deniers. Representative Darrell
Issa, who got a
“Climate Change Denier Award”
from the League of
Conservation Voters, decided he wouldn’t even bother running in
his coastal district north of San Diego. He’ll be replaced by an
environmental lawyer, Mike Levin, to represent California’s 49th
District.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
3 climate winners (and losers) from the California midterms
on
Nov 8, 2018.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
3 climate winners (and losers) from the California midterms