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Clean air, clean elections needed in the United States

It’s the way climate economists at the Union of Concerned Scientists described the results if clean-energy technologies were powering the nation’s economy. It’s advantages Californians were striving for when they passed a Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 that would reduce heat-trapping air-pollutant emissions to 1990 levels.
The state enjoys the lowest rate of electricity consumption in the nation, but the average homeowner would save another $200 annually through efficiency investments spurred by the law. It would preserve 14,000 acres of forestland each year or re-forest previously cut land, improving air quality and safeguarding future water supplies.
Supporting a switch to fuel-efficient vehicles, it would save drivers hundreds of dollars per year and shield against volatile gas prices. It would strengthen the state’s clean-energy industry, one of the bright spots in its economy. Each $100 million invested in it was creating 2,700 jobs.
Of California’s $4 trillion in real-estate assets, $2.5 trillion are at risk from increasing extreme weather, wild fires and sea level rise spawned by global warming.
To address the risks sooner when the costs are far less, and secure the economic and strategic benefits of an accelerated clean-energy transition, citizens supported the Global Warming Solutions law.
They did so again, overwhelmingly, this Election Day. As reported in the “renewablesbiz” online journal, out-of-state oil interests had heavily funded a ballot initiative that would have suspended this law. With “fear-mongering and scare tactics” they had predicted dire negative job impacts from its implementation, although jobs in the clean-energy sector had grown by five percent even as unemployment had surged.
California’s citizens soundly defeated the campaign to derail the clean-energy law. Campaign donors were known in this case. But most outside interest groups that heavily funded “issue communications” this year did so while hiding funders’ identities.
As recently as 2006, nearly 100 percent of election-campaign ads revealed their donors. Less than one-third did this year — an unintended outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding free speech spending in elections.
The DISCLOSE Act now in the U.S. Senate and passed by the House would require the top five donors to an organization that purchases TV ads to be listed on the screen and registered lobbyists to disclose election spending of more than $1,000.
The consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen, echoes the will of citizens and their right to voting-relevant information not contaminated by private-interest monies. The group has set up a website, www.citizen.org/disclose-act-action, where one may seek senators’ support for clean elections.