It is election season and as election day fast approaches, candidates are bringing out the big guns!  This is the time when the mud really gets slinging and the outrageous attack ads get double play. For myself, this is the worst time in politics and a time to shut out the chatter and focus on the issues that matter most.  With a majority Democrat Congress and a Democrat President, you would think that energy and environmental policy would take the front seat. However, this summer, environmentalists and people concerned with our current energy policy were saddened to see that no climate bills would be passed this year. Furthermore, it felt as if this might be the last chance for any sort of new environmental policy for a while, as it is projected Republicans will gain seats in Congress this November.

Even though the environment seems like a non-partisan issue, seeing as how it affects us all regardless of party lines, Republicans are notorious for lacking in real environmental change.  Making matters worse, a recent Wonk Report shows that all GOP senate candidates are not supporting environmental policy and the fact that they ALL question climate change science. Even candidates such as John McCain, who fought for climate policy during the Bush years, now fights against it.  The political climate seems to have turned it’s head to the environment. Polls are whatever you take them to be, but  a recent poll conducted in 23 states shows the majority of Americans support clean energy policy and would vote for a candidate who supports this. Yet the entire Republican party is against real climate . How can that be?

In a year where we had a six month oil spill and a few coal mines collapses, it is surprising there is less focus on sustainable energy policy. These events should be a giant distress call, however, they have been pushed to the back burner while candidates discuss talking points needed to win elections. In a normal election year, something as cataclysmic as a six month oil spill would be on every politicians tongue.  But it seems this year is proving different. The importance of our environment has taken a huge hit. If polls are suggesting right, the Republicans who question environmental destruction and who think focusing on offshore drilling will be the answer to our problem, will be flooding the House and the Senate; thus killing environmental policy. We don’t always take party sides, but we are fearful of any politician who is not willing to act on providing this country with adequate sustainable energy policy.

So, if this “takeover” occurs we are surely looking at a regression in policy when it comes to the environment. Which is incredibly unfortunate, given the issues our country and planet face in the near future. At some point, the oil will run out and if we don’t have a backup plan quickly we will continue to fall behind the rest of the world. While other countries are improving solar and wind technology and trying to decrease pollution, we are looking for ways to continue to squeeze the Earth of the last few oil reserves. This is just delaying the inevitable and when the oil finally does dry up, we will have to look to foreign powers to bail us out.

What can we do? When you are choosing a candidate next week, make sure you know their stance on the environment and do not vote for someone who does not support environmental policy.  After the election, continue to pressure your local representatives and senators to act on the environment and encourage them to support sustainable policy. And if we cannot get our government to act on these major issues, consider volunteering or donating to non profits who will take action on our environment. We have the power to change the future of our environment, so make informed decisions and get active!

-Gina Williams