The Democratic Party’s wins across the country yesterday weren’t just a repudiation of President Donald Trump’s regressive agenda, but an endorsement of progressive climate policy.
Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy—the governors-elect of Virginia and New Jersey, respectively—both campaigned on joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade coalition. Member states of RGGI put strict limits on how much power plants can emit annually, but allow power plants to buy credits if they want to pollute more. It’s a proven success. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, pollution from power plants in these states has decreased significantly and raised more than $400 million for energy-efficiency programs.
Northam’s win was also a rejection of his pro-oil opponent Ed Gillespie, who promised to increase offshore drilling and supported Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement. Meanwhile, fossil fuel corporations poured millions of dollars into two losing candidates in Washington state. Democrats now have full control of the state government, raising the chance that they will pass a state cap-and-trade law or carbon tax, ThinkProgress’ Natasha Geiling reports:
With a Democratic majority, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) could find enough allies to advance his environmental and climate agenda, which for years has included trying to pass a carbon tax. In 2015, a Republican-controlled legislature refused to take action on a cap-and-trade bill backed by Inslee; in the meantime, Inslee has directed the state Department of Ecology to craft a plan for carbon emission reductions, but has suggested that he would prefer passing a carbon tax through the legislature.
It’s huge news that three more states might adopt carbon pricing systems. These are significant policies to lower emissions, and make an actual dent in the fight against global warming. What’s more, as the Financial Times points out, regional carbon pricing would be “a counterforce to the Trump administration’s reversal” of the Paris agreement—just another way states are taking the climate fight into their own hands in the face of Trump’s inaction.
Tuesday saw some smaller environmental victories, too. Denver voted to require all new large buildings to install green roofs with either vegetation or solar panels. And Miami voted to fund a $200 million initiative to fight against sea-level rise, giving new meaning to Tuesday’s wave election.