Green-backed U.S. Senate candidates win half their races in the Great Lakes states


Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series on environmental issues in the 2022 election.

By Mackenzie DeRaad, Sierra Moore, Dina Kaur and Elaine Mallon

Three Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in the Great Lakes state won on Election Day with strong backing from environmental groups.

Among them was John Fetterman, who flipped a seat in Pennsylvania with support from the Conservation Supporters of Pennsylvania, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and Clean Air Action.

Image: Asher Freedman

A report from the four advocacy groups said Fetterman believes that climate change is an existential threat and that a transition to clean energy needs to be made as quickly as possible.

“But we must do it in a way that preserves the union way of life for the thousands of workers currently employed or supported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and the communities where they live,” Fetterman said on his website.

In Illinois, incumbent Tammy Duckworth won re-election with an endorsement from the Blue Green Alliance.

And in New York, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer got another term with endorsements from the Blue Green Alliance and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund.

However, green-backed Democrats Tim Ryan of Ohio, Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin and Thomas McDermott of Indiana lost in their races against Republican incumbents..

Michigan and Minnesota didn’t have Senate seats on the ballot this Election Day..

For Marc Smith, the policy director at the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, seeing new blood in the Senate — especially one who is promoting clean sustainable energy – is exciting for his organization, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Smith said Fetterman’s presence in the Senate “is going to be a boost for us. We have a lot of things we need to get done here in the Great Lakes to combat invasive carp.

“It really depends on where Fetterman’s committee assignments are, but in terms of just general voting, I think it’ll provide an opportunity to help advance some good policies for the Great Lakes,” he said.

Blue Green Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh said his organization is founded on the belief that people don’t have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment and that both can and should be achieved.

Walsh said Duckworth’s position on environmental issues aligns with that mission.

In a press release, he called Duckworth “a champion for building a clean, prosperous, and equitable future.”

Duckworth serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and said on her website that she supports  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employees. She also said she’s working to guarantee that programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continue to help Illinois and the region flourish while bringing more resources to the Midwest.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, the senior vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, credited Schumer with Senate passage of the country’s biggest-ever investment in climate action, clean energy and environmental justice.

“Schumer’s leadership was essential to this historic victory and, because of his tireless efforts, we finally have the chance to reduce our climate emissions and cut toxic pollution at the scale and pace that science and justice demand,” Sittenfeld said in a news release.

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