On Tuesday, voters elected Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States – ushering in what promises to be a radical shift in U.S. environmental policy in the coming years. In his acceptance speech, however, Obama acknowledged the hard work that will be required to achieve change.
‘For even as we celebrate tonight,’ Obama said, ‘we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in crisis, the worst financial crisis in a century.’
As part of his campaign platform, Obama promised to establish a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 10% by 2012 and create a cap-and-trade program that would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next 40 years.
Whether Obama can generate support in Congress for these policies remains to be seen, but his work likely will be easier with the exit of several legislators known for their consistent opposition of clean energy measures. According to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) early Wednesday, at least seven of the 12 members of Congress targeted by the LCV for their stances on clean energy have been unseated.
In addition to the presidential election, voters across the U.S. addressed clean energy issues on Tuesday.
The Kansas City Star reports that voters approved a new 15% RPS for Missouri utilities, and The Sacramento Bee reports that voters in California rejected a proposition to increase the state's existing RPS to 50%. California voters also turned down a longstanding plan that would allow San Francisco to operate its own public power system and require the city to obtain all of its electricity from renewable resources.