Climate Change Champion Wins Massachusetts Senate Race

Congratulations to Ed Markey, who became Massachusetts’ new Senator in this week’s special election. 

Markey moves to the Senate after serving in the House for some 37 years and is one of the people we rely on to champion the causes we care about – environment, climate change, and transitioning to a green economy.

He replaces John Kerry, who became Secretary of State earlier this year, another climate lion. 

Ed Markey

For example, when the Interior Dept released its disappointing proposed regulations on fracking, Markey was one of the few outspoken critics in the House, saying "This rule essentially says to oil companies that they can frack first and ask questions later." 

His report, "Oil for Nothing… And Gas for Free: Royalty Breaks for Big Oil Cost America Billions"  shows that over 100 companies actively drilling in the Gulf of Mexico don’t even pay royalties to the US government.

During the BP oil spill fiasco, he was a bulldog, and even produced a report exposing Republican efforts to prevent action on climate change and derail any agenda that puts the US on a path toward energy efficiency and renewable energy, and away from fossil fuels.

Even when House Republicans passed the "Stop the War on Coal Act," he added an amendment calling for a national Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to source 8% of energy from renewables and ramping  up to 50% between 2035-2040. 

Here’s what Kiley Kroh, deputy editor of Climate Progress says about him:

Among his many long-term credentials, he co-authored the historic climate change legislation with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) that passed the House of Representatives in 2009.

Climate change was a pillar of Markey’s campaign for Senate, prompting the National Journal to deem him the "first real ‘climate candidate.’"

In his acceptance speech, Markey emphasized his commitment to prioritizing environmental issues in the Senate, telling supporters, "I want to lead the effort to launch a clean energy revolution in our country."

Markey has long been a vocal foe of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and reiterated his opposition throughout the campaign. He also advocated for ending tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, a focus throughout his time in the House, and establishing the U.S. as a leader in clean energy.

When Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in 2007, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi chartered a new committee, U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and selected Markey to head it up. Over the next four years, Markey went head-to-head with Ranking Member Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), a long-time climate disinformer who says that the science of man-made global warming is an "international conspiracy."

When Republicans took back the House in 2010, they shut down the committee. Markey, however, remained undeterred in his quest to educate the public about the realities of climate change, fend off relentless attacks from his Republican colleagues, and holding fossil fuel companies responsible for their destructive practices.

Seizing the opportunity to elect a dedicated advocate to the Senate, clean energy and environmental groups lined up to support Markey’s bid. As Politico reports, the majority of the $2.6 million Markey received from the energy sector came from independent expenditures by environmental groups, with the League of Conservation Voters alone spending more than $1.6 million supporting Markey or opposing his opponent, Gabriel Gomez.

Markey also received a substantial boost from the NextGen Committee, a super PAC backed by billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer – member of the Center for American Progress’ board of directors – which spent more than $853,000. The remainder of the outside spending came from campaigns by the Sierra Club Political Committee, the 350.org Action Fund and Environmental Majority.

Markey’s unwavering commitment to combating climate change, taking on fossil fuel companies, and advancing renewable energy will be a critical voice for action on a national scale. Despite the Senate’s failure to pass the Waxman-Markey climate and clean energy bill in 2009, and the overwhelming wave of climate denial throughout Congress, Markey’s mission is unchanged: "I want to go to the Senate to make sure we pass meaningful climate change legislation."

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