Climate change may have been completely ignored in the presidential debates this year for the first time in 24 years, and other serious green issues may have only gotten some attention in passing as Obama and Romney rushed to convince voters that they hold the secret to resuscitating the economy and lowering gas prices, but there are important political races this year where the environment and the fate of the planet are not being overlooked.
Check out these three senate races where prominent, national environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club are dumping some serious dough in the hopes of stocking the Senate with green-minded members:
Massachussets - Elizabeth Warren (D) vs. Scott Brown (R)
Elizabeth Warren is known more for her progressive economic policies than environmental advocacy, but Warren has vowed to help make America a leader in green technologies, rebuild public transit infrastructure, eliminate subsidies for big oil and fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. Her opponent, Scott Brown, while supporting the extension of the vital production tax credit for wind energy, also supports expanding offshore drilling, has repeatedly voted against EPA's efforts to regulate greenhouse gasses, would support the pipeline from Canada and received over $330,000 from oil-and-gas industry.
New Mexico - Martin Heinrich (D) vs. Heather Wilson (R)
During his time in the House of Representatives, Martin Heinrich earned an impressive 95% lifetime score on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard. He has consistently voted to protect the Clean Air Act, served on the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and supported cap-and trade legislation back in 2009. Heather Wilson is a climate skeptic and has the dubious distinction of being one of the top recipients of oil and gas money in Congress. In television ads, the Sierra Club has hit Wilson for being in the pocket of big oil and letting the industry get away with contaminating ground water, endangering the health and safety of families in New Mexico.
Maine -Angus King (I) vs. Charlie Summers (R)
Former two-term Independent governor Angus King is battling it out with Republican Charlie Summers for the senate seat vacated by Olympia Snow. King helped secure the largest increase in protected lands in Maine's history and is a staunch advocate for the wind industry. Summers, on the other hand, has stated that he doesn't believe that human activities impact the climate and The Sierra Club Independent Action Fund and the League of Conservation Voters have recently launched a six figure ad campaign to draw voters attention to the clear contrast between King and Summers on environmental issues.
Charlie Summers’ refusal to accept scientific consensus on climate change is out of step with Maine, but Angus King has built his career on making investments in clean energy that grow our economy, create jobs and protect the environment,” said Navin Nayak, LCV Senior Vice President for Campaigns in a statement released with the announcement of the ad campaign.
Joanna Foster is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. Her background is in ecology and evolutionary biology, and having always lived near water—be it Lake Michigan, the Indian Ocean or the North Sea—she is passionate about the conservation and restoration of this most precious resource. She is a regular contributer at the Energy and Environment blog at The New York Times, and her work has also appeared in OnEarth Magazine and at the American Museum of Natural History. TakePart.com