This year’s mid-term elections for the United States House of Representatives and the Senate saw several important victories for climate advocates, many of whom were LGBTQ+ individuals and/or other minorities. Democrats kept the Senate, whereas Republicans took the House by a slim margin. This year, an estimated 340 individuals who identified as LBTQ+ were elected; notable winners include Maura Healey and Eric Sorenson. Several minorities made history too, including Summer Lee and Andrea Campbell. Aside from climate change-related issues, the aforementioned candidates focused on issues as varied as abortion, marijuana decriminalization, and voting rights. Of course, climate change has been on many voters’ and candidates’ minds, so it’s important to know where recently-elected candidates stand regarding this very important issue.
Source: WZMQ 19 News/YouTube
Gretchen Whitmer, who was the subject of a failed kidnapping plan by members of the far-right, was reelected as the Governor of Michigan. In April of this year, Whitmer unveiled a Healthy Climate Plan for Michigan, which would protect water and air, in addition to creating many new jobs. The plan is focused on obtaining carbon neutrality by 2050, with the hope of combating climate change as much as possible by 2030. Whitmer’s plan also aims to clean the state’s electric grid, increase electric transportation statewide, and deal with environmental injustices, among other ambitious goals. A longtime supporter of fighting climate change, Whitmer joined the U.S. Climate Alliance in 2019; this is a bipartisan climate alliance that addresses greenhouse gas emissions.
Source: Maryland LCV/YouTube
Maryland’s Governor-elect, Wes Moore, wants to leverage the state’s natural resources as a way to make people want to live and grow a family there. He ran his campaign on several climate-related issues, with a focus on “building a more resilient” state, partnering with others to combat climate change, and setting “aggressive clean energy and emissions reductions standards.” In June of this year, when the Supreme Court made the decision to destroy the EPA’s authority and sided with polluters, then-candidate Moore announced this “aggressive climate agenda.” Moore said that, within his first 100 days in office, he would leverage his new connections to address climate change. “The urgency of the climate crisis is here,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves, our state, and our future generations to take bold actions now.”
Source: Climate Vote MN/YouTube
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who was reelected this year, recently announced a plan to slow the effects of climate change. This aforementioned plan is quite broad and includes specific benchmarks for increasing the prominence of electric cars on roads in the state and for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Walz said, during this announcement, “to not address climate change will be that existential threat to the health, wellbeing, and economic future of Minnesotans for generations to come.” The 60-page plan, titled “Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework,” aims to protect the state’s clean air and water, the health of its citizens, their outdoor traditions, and its four seasons.
Source: Democracy Now!/YouTube
This November, Maura Healey became the first lesbian governor in the country when she was elected governor of Massachusetts after having served as the state’s Attorney General. One of her campaign issues was indeed climate, as she says she focuses on climate change as a way to obtain good-paying jobs for the state’s citizens, protect its communities, and address environmental injustices. Healey’s history with climate issues is strong; for example, in 2019, she sued Exxon for deceiving Massachusetts investors and consumers. Massachusetts was the first state to challenge Exxon’s lies and deceptions regarding the climate-related risks caused by its fossil fuel products.
Source: Oregon League of Conservation Voters/YouTube
Shortly after Maura Healey’s victory Tina Kotek became the second lesbian governor when she was elected governor of Oregon. During her campaign, she talked about how she would make solving the climate crisis a “priority,” if elected. Also, she made it a point to mobilize and reach out to younger voters, who are often leading the fight against climate change. She said that she wanted to protect the current progress of this fight and to keep fighting to protect clean water and air in Oregon; her plan also included supporting public transportation, increasing usage of zero-emissions vehicles, and transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Source: Local 4 News WHBF/YouTube
This fall, Eric Sorensen made history by becoming the first out LGBTQ individual from Illinois elected to congress. The gay former meteorologist won the election held in Illinois’ 17th District, and two of the issues on which he ran his campaign focused on the environment: creating sustainable jobs for citizens of Illinois and addressing climate change. Sorensen has long been ahead of the curve regarding reporting on climate change as a meteorologist, and he received multiple Emmy nominations for his weather reporting. In an interview with Moms Clean Air Force in 2018, he said that “it is our duty as on-air meteorologists to report on climate change,” and that he was disappointed in his colleagues for not following suit.
Zaynab Mohamed, who was recently elected as the Senator for Minnesota’s District 63, is Muslim and of Somalian heritage. One of her central issues has been environmental justice, in which she recognizes climate change as a huge threat to life on our planet. Her focus has been on how this specifically affects Minnesota and its citizens, as “decades of substandard climate policy” has lead to such things as watershed degradation, higher lumber prices, and ecosystem destruction. By addressing climate change, she hopes to protect individuals and communities of color who have been “disproportionally impacted” by these issues and create a sustainable economy for the state, which includes the creation of many more green jobs statewide.
This fall, Summer Lee was elected to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives in District 34, becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress in Pennsylvania. Lee is focused on tackling the climate crisis and is a champion of the Green New Deal. Also, she has experienced first-hand the environmental racism in many communities statewide, which are “used as dumping grounds by corporate polluters who sacrificed” the citizens’ health for their profits. As such, she wants to guarantee clean and safe water for all, she believes that it is “unconscionable that anyone in America wouldn’t have access to clean water,” especially because the necessary financial resources exist.
Andrea Campbell, a former member of the Mattapan City Council, is set to become the first Black female Attorney General in Massachusetts. Two of Campbell’s top priorities include protecting the environment and tackling the climate crisis, as well as continuing the fight for environmental justice in Massachusetts. She believes that “every resident deserves the opportunity to live in a healthy and safe community,” especially communities of color, which tend to experience the worst environmental devastation. In 2021, as a mayoral candidate, Campbell held a virtual climate justice town hall, in which she answered questions regarding climate and spoke about her plans for environmental justice.
It’s certainly promising that so many climate change-focused individuals have been elected to various positions nationwide, although it remains to be seen how accurate their campaign promises will be, as well as how successful and effective any action they take will be. Reach out to your local representatives and make sure they are fulfilling their promises regarding climate issues, and don’t forget to continue to vote for candidates whose values most align with your own.
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- Petition: The EPA’s Solution to Truck Pollution Doesn’t Go Far Enough to Protect Us From the Poison Pouring From Tailpipes
- Jalonne White-Newsome Announced as New Director of Environmental Justice for The White House
- Petition: Some Corporations Are Making Climate Change Worse. It’s Time for Them to Acknowledge That.
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