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What The Midterms Mean For The Environment
A Look At A Few Key Environmental Issues & Candidates On The Ballot
As most of you know, I don’t like getting involved in politics because it doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, your economic status, or the color of your skin; we all need access to clean water.
If there’s one agenda across the board that I think everyone needs to be united on, it’s making sure we all have safe drinking water.
With the midterm elections just around the corner, I want to remind everyone that a powerful tool we all can use when it comes to environmental issues is voting.
We are less than a week away from Election Day (November 8), so it’s time do your research! Get to know your local candidates. Where do they stand on environmental issues that matter to you?
If you’re not sure who is running or what they stand for, check out local orgs who may have put out a voting guide or endorsements for candidates such as:
The Sierra Club is an environmental org with chapters in all 50 United States, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. They endorse candidates who are working for the environment.
The League of Conservation Voters is another environmental advocacy group that, “advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates.”
Many states and counties also have local voter guides and can help you find out more.
And then get yourselves to the voting booth and bring your friends too!
Local governments have a huge influence on how your community runs. Many communities find out too late—after pollution has ravaged an area—that the local politicians are not interested in environmental issues.
Want to know what’s on your ballot? Try Ballotpedia's Sample Ballot tool. Put in your address and you can view a sample ballot.
It’s About Being Engaged, NOT Taking Sides
Let me say again: this isn’t about taking political sides or choosing a political party. I’ve been disappointed by both Democrats’ and Republicans’ approach to these issues. And in truth, environmental issues aren’t political issues, or they shouldn’t be. They are reality issues. If we can’t drink the water, it’s game over for everyone!
Here are a few interesting ballot initiatives & candidates running in states that are dealing with toxic water or other environmental issues.
In New York, The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 would allow the state to sell bonds to fund $4.2 billion for environmental improvements to “preserve, enhance, and restore New York's natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change.” It has allocated $650 million for water quality in resiliency infrastructure, which would translate to actions like removal of lead pipes from communities and support addressing water contaminants, like PFAS and 1,4 dioxane.
In California, voters have the opportunity to help combat climate change with Proposition 30, the Tax on Income Above $2 Million for Zero-Emissions Vehicles and Wildfire Prevention Initiative. This initiative would fund wildfire suppression and prevention programs, along with zero-emission vehicle subsidies and increase zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, like bringing charging stations into low-income communities.
Harris County, Texas
Harris County, Texas, is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the country, which includes Houston and its surrounding areas with a population of more than 4.5 million people. In 2017, all 22 of Houston metro’s major freeways were flooded and impassable during Hurricane Harvey, according to the Harris County Flood Control District’s final report. More than 60,000 residents were rescued by government resources across the county, most of them from their homes, and an estimated 300,000 vehicles were flooded across the county.
Even before the major storm hit, residents started writing to me in 2014 because their tap water had a strong chlorine smell, along with sediment and sludge showing up in it.
“The Harris County judge is more like a CEO with broad jurisdictional power over the nation’s largest county in the Houston area, home to sprawling oil and petrochemical industrial operations,” writes Rebecca Leber for Vox.
This November, Lina Hidalgo is fighting to keep her seat as county judge for Harris County, after a surprise win in 2018.
Hidalgo’s campaign has emphasized her environmental priorities that include incorporating climate flood maps into city planning and hiring environmental prosecutors.
Meanwhile her opponent Alexandra del Moral Mealer website says, “County is not the appropriate entity to solve Climate Change, let’s fix potholes first.”
Corpus Christi, Texas, City Council
Another small Texas race with huge stakes is happening in the humid coastal city of Corpus Christi, where aging infrastructure combined with chloramine use has been just one of the issues causing boil-water orders on and off for years.
The Port of Corpus Christi has become the number one exporter of crude oil, and there are a slew of new petrochemical projects proposed in the region A slate of candidates running for city council have a vision to put people and planet before polluters profits. We’re proud to support the following in their bids for City Council:
The climate group Lead Locally lists four endorsed candidates running for city council, who share goals with a common theme of increased accountability, civic engagement and transparency. They are putting more attention on preparing for climate change and increasing focus on clean energy.
Arizona Water Issues
Remember Arizona is a dealing with a severe megadrought and needs candidates who can pass water conservation measures and keep environmental issues at the forefront.
Just last summer, for the first time ever, drought conditions forced the federal government to declare a water shortage in the Colorado River, reducing how much Arizona can use.
In the governor race, Katie Hobbs is running on a platform of “protecting women’s reproductive freedom, investing in our public schools to give every child in Arizona a world class education, finally addressing our water crisis and securing our water supply, and lowering costs on everything from housing to groceries to school supplies,” according to her campaign website.
In the Arizona state legislature race, I want to give a special shout-out to Laura Terech, running for Senate Legislative District 4. She’s an elementary school teacher who was inspired to run for office when her school building was so underfunded the ceiling of her classroom caved in during class. Now that’s an infrastructure issue!
What races are you watching in the Midterms? What issues are you considering as you go to the polls this week? Sound off in the comments below and don’t forget to vote!