Here Are the Races to Watch if You Care About Global Warming

Your state-by-state guide to the climate fallout from Tuesday’s election.

AndreyPopov/iStock; Peter Kirillov/iStock; Carlos Barria/Reuters via ZUMA; photoillustration by Ivylise Simones/Mother Jones

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The climate didn’t get much attention in this year’s debates, but Tuesday’s election will still have major consequences for the fight against global warming. Donald Trump thinks climate change is a hoax; he’s pledged to withdraw from the historic Paris climate accord and to repeal President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants. Hillary Clinton has said she will continue Obama’s climate legacy and has called for installing half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term.

The debate isn’t restricted to the top of the ticket; there are a number of state races that will play a key role in determining US climate policy, along with a handful of ballot initiatives covering everything from rooftop solar to a proposed carbon tax. The situation in each state is unique. Some races—New Hampshire’s Senate contest, for instance—feature two candidates who want to act on climate change. Others, such as West Virginia’s gubernatorial election, feature two candidates who are champions of the coal industry. The impacts of climate change also vary from state to state: Alaska faces wildfires and melting permafrost; Florida is confronting rising seas; Iowa could be hit with falling corn yields. And of course, the voters in each state are different, too. Coloradans overwhelmingly acknowledge that humans are warming the planet. Their neighbors in Utah: not so much.

Below, we’ve listed every state with a competitive presidential, Senate, or gubernatorial race—as well as ones that are voting on climate-related initiatives. And we’ve included a few key facts: namely, where the candidates stand on climate; the specific consequences of warming in each state; and the percentage of each state’s residents who are climate science deniers (according to research from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication). One final note: For the sake of consistency, we included every Senate and gubernatorial race that the Cook Political Report rates as “toss up,” “lean,” or “likely.” Many of these elections will probably be close, but a few (see: Alaska’s Senate race) almost certainly won’t be.


Impacts of climate change: “Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation, bringing widespread impacts. Sea ice is rapidly receding and glaciers are shrinking. Thawing permafrost is leading to more wildfire, and affecting infrastructure and wildlife habitat. Rising ocean temperatures and acidification will alter valuable marine fisheries.” [National Climate Assessment, 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 47%

Presidential battleground? No.

Senate race:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R): “I do believe that our climate is changing. I don’t agree that all the changes are necessarily due solely to human activity.” [Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee session, 1/8/15]

Joe Miller (L): “We haven’t heard there’s man-made global warming.” [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 8/22/10]

Ray Metcalfe (D): “Every [Alaskan] has witnessed climate change over the past fifty years. Our winters are warmer, our summers are longer, and our Arctic Village shores, once protected by sea ice are eroding. Bold clean energy action is needed to stave off a climate hostile to human life. Unfortunately, Congress is protecting the profits of those opposed to protecting the planet.” [Metcalfe Facebook post, 8/2/16]


Impacts of climate change: “Annual precipitation has decreased in Arizona during the last century, and it may continue to decrease. So soils are likely to be drier, and periods without rain are likely to become longer, making droughts more severe…Increasing droughts and higher temperatures are likely to affect Arizona’s top agricultural products: cattle, dairy, and vegetables.” [Environmental Protection Agency, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Maybe.

Senate race:

Sen. John McCain (R): “I think we need to address greenhouse gas emissions. But I try to get involved in issues where I see a legislative result…So I just leave the issue alone because I don’t see a way through it, and there are certain fundamentals, for example nuke power, that people on the left will never agree with me on. So why should I waste my time when I know the people on the left are going to reject nuclear power?” [Time, 3/2/14]

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D): “The EPA’s [Clean Power Plan] is another example of Washington’s lack of understanding when it comes to rural and Western energy issues. I oppose this new rule because it hurts my district, which has four coal-fired plants that power Arizona’s big cities, small towns, businesses and residences. These plants also provide good-paying jobs in our tribal and rural regions. The Navajo Generating Station in Page, for example, employs hundreds of people, mostly Native Americans, and provides nearly all of the power for the Central Arizona Project. That means our entire state has a big stake in the energy production and economic stability of these plants. We need to find a balance between protecting our local economies while pursuing the longer-term goal of producing clean, affordable and reliable power. I will not support efforts that kill jobs in my district and lack provisions for responsibly transitioning us toward a clean-energy economy.” [Kirkpatrick press release, 6/2/14]


Impacts of climate change: “Rising temperatures have and will continue to impact the state’s resources in a variety of ways, including more rapid snowmelt, longer and more severe droughts, and longer growing seasons…Moreover, Colorado experiences numerous climate-related disasters, such as [tornadoes], hailstorms, and wildfires, that will continue to occur and may be exacerbated by climate change.” [University of Colorado and Colorado State University, January 2015]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 41%

Presidential battleground? Yep.

Senate race:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D): “Colorado’s economy is already being threatened by unchecked climate change…[The Clean Power Plan] is an important step toward curbing carbon pollution and addressing climate change.” [Bennet press release, 8/3/15]

Daryl Glenn, El Paso County commissioner (R):

Ryan Warner, Colorado Public Radio: To get you on the record, you do not agree with the majority of scientists who say climate change has human causes. Is that correct?

Glenn: Well that’s your assumption. You’re bringing an assumption to the table and the premise to your question has me to basically adopt your position and I can’t do that without verifiable data.

Warner: Oh it’s not my position. It’s that the majority of scientists believe that climate change has a human caused component. Do you concur with them?

Glenn: Again, you are bringing facts to the particular issue that I don’t have, been presented to me. You’re saying that the majority of scientists are saying that. That’s your statement.

Warner: Right. Well, that’s a fact. Is it a fact that you agree with?

Glenn: Well that’s the fact that you’re representing and I don’t accept your premise of that question.

Warner: Do you believe that climate change has human causes?

Glenn: Well again, I would, I am a data guy, I would want to see the, a verifiable information of that.

Warner: There’s a lot out there. Have you looked at it?

Glenn: We’ve looked at a lot of things. We’ve also looked at that and we’ve also looked at the economic impact of this policy and how they are disproportionately hurting people when it comes to their livelihood. So that’s really where the focus is. We need to make sure we’re looking at policies like that that we’re looking at both sides of the equation instead of just one. [Colorado Public Radio, 7/29/16]


Impacts of climate change: “There is an imminent threat of increased inland flooding during heavy rain events in low-lying coastal areas such as southeast Florida, where just inches of sea level rise will impair the capacity of stormwater drainage systems to empty into the ocean. Drainage problems are already being experienced in many locations during seasonal high tides, heavy rains, and storm surge events.” [National Climate Assessment, 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 42%

Presidential battleground? Always.

Senate race:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R): “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it…And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it—except, they will destroy our economy.” [ABC News, 5/13/14]

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D): “Everywhere I go in Florida, I see the effects of [climate change]. Sen. Rubio denies science.” [WFTV debate via Media Matters, 10/17/16]

On the ballot:

Rooftop Solar (Amendment 1): This is a confusing initiative that could actually undermine rooftop solar in the Sunshine State. As we reported in March, “Amendment 1 was created by an organization with a grassroots-sounding name: Consumers for Smart Solar. In reality, though, the organization is financed by the state’s major electric utility companies as well as by conservative groups with ties to the Koch brothers…The amendment says state and local governments have the authority ‘to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.'” That’s widely seen as an attack on net metering, the policy requiring utilities to pay consumers for the extra power produced by their solar panels.


Impacts of climate change: “Sea level is rising more rapidly in Georgia than along most coasts because the land is sinking. If the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, sea level is likely to rise one to four feet in the next century along the coast of Georgia. Rising sea level submerges wetlands and dry land, erodes beaches, and exacerbates coastal flooding…[H]urricane wind speeds and rainfall rates are likely to increase as the climate continues to warm. Whether or not storms become more intense, coastal homes and infrastructure will flood more often as sea level rises, because storm surges will become higher as well.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 45%

Presidential battleground? Apparently so.

Senate race:

(Goes to a runoff if no one wins a majority)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R): “I’ve done everything I can as a United States Senator to educate myself on the carbon issue and the climate change issue. Seven years ago I went with Sen. Boxer from California to Disko Bay in Greenland with Dr. [Richard] Alley who’s the leading glaciologist in the world to study for a while what he says about the possibility of carbon being the cause of climate change. And there are mixed reviews on that; there’s mixed scientific evidence on that.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 3/18/15]

Jim Barksdale (D): “Climate change is a reality and if left unchecked, rising ocean tides will harm Georgia’s Atlantic coast and threaten our state’s robust tourism and shipping industries.” [Barksdale campaign website, accessed 10/28/16]

Allen Buckley (L): “Change the gas tax to be an energy tax with the following general concept—the cleaner a fuel is, the less tax it bears and the dirtier a fuel is, the more tax it bears. For example, the current federal excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline. If, in the future, one-third of our vehicles run on gasoline, one-third run on batteries and one-third run on hydrogen, and the respective ‘well to wheels’ carbon dioxide output is 6, 3 and 1, then the 18.4 cent excise tax should be allocated so that gasoline bears 33.1 cents per gallon, battery-powered cars pay 16.6 cents per gallon in gasoline-equivalent terms and hydrogen vehicles pay 5.5 cents per gallon in gasoline-equivalent terms…Concerning global warming, while I believe it is happening, the degree to which it is man made is very hard to gauge.” [Buckley campaign website, accessed 10/28/16]


Impacts of climate change: “Changing climate is likely to increase the frequency of floods in Illinois. Over the last half century, average annual precipitation in most of the Midwest has increased by 5 to 10 percent. But rainfall during the four wettest days of the year has increased about 35 percent, and the amount of water flowing in most streams during the worst flood of the year has increased by more than 20 percent. During the next century, spring rainfall and average precipitation are likely to increase, and severe rainstorms are likely to intensify. Each of these factors will tend to further increase the risk of flooding…In Lake Michigan, changing climate is likely to harm water quality. Warmer water tends to cause more algal blooms, which can be unsightly, harm fish, and degrade water quality.” [EPA, Aug. 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 39%

Presidential battleground? No.

Senate race:

Sen. Mark Kirk (R): “I have voted that climate change is happening and it’s also caused by man…The best thing that we can do on climate change is make sure that China converts to a more nuclear future to limit those—that one coal-burning plant coming on a week that we expect—that would really help the planet…We need to work cooperatively with developing countries to make sure they emit less.” [WICS debate via Media Matters, 10/27/16]

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D): “Of course climate change is real. And I support an all-of-the-above approach attacking climate change—everything from moving our country towards being carbon-neutral, moving our country towards clean energy…My opponent has not been consistent…Depending on whether or not he’s up for election…he’s either voted for the Clean Power Plan or against the Clean Power Plan. He’s switched back and forth.” [WICS debate via Media Matters, 10/27/16]


Impacts of climate change: “Changing the climate is likely to increase the frequency of floods in Indiana…During the next century, spring rainfall and average precipitation are likely to increase, and severe rainstorms are likely to intensify. Each of these factors will tend to further increase the risk of flooding…Although springtime in Indiana is likely to be wetter, summer droughts are likely to be more severe…Longer frost-free growing seasons and higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase yields for some crops during an average year. But increasingly hot summers are likely to reduce yields of corn and possibly soybeans.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 46%

Presidential battleground? No.

Senate race:

Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D): “Evan Bayh supports Indiana’s coal industry, including opposing the EPA’s coal rules. Pointing out that the coal industry contributed $2 billion to Indiana’s economy, Evan argued that the EPA’s rules would put ‘tens of thousands’ of Hoosier jobs at risk. In the Senate, Evan not only voted twice against cap-and-trade legislation, he signed a letter stating that he would not support any climate change bill that did not protect Indiana jobs.” [Bayh campaign website, accessed 10/28/16]

Rep. Todd Young (R): “My mind remains open about the various scientific questions and so forth. We’re often told that there is a consensus among scientists, and I’ve come to discover—as the number of scientists I’ve talked to and the number of things I read—that’s not necessarily the case. But I think we need to prepare for the worst, and so I support energy efficiency measures. I think natural gas has been a big part of the solution if in fact we need to reduce man-generated carbon dioxide emissions. And I think any public policy that doesn’t account for the fact that most CO2 emissions don’t come from the United States, but they come from other countries, is a flawed policy. So let’s not unilaterally tax our power, our people, to solve a global problem.” [WLKY, 10/8/14]

Gubernatorial race:

John Gregg, former Indiana speaker of the House and former coal lobbyist (D): “Like my family, I’ve worked in the coal industry. And I’ve opposed federal rules impacting coal jobs.” [Gregg campaign ad, 8/11/16]

Lt. Gov Eric Holcomb (R): “[Holcomb will] stand strong against unreasonable Federal EPA rules, like the so-called Clean Power Plan, that continue to lead to higher prices for Hoosiers.” [Holcomb campaign website, accessed 10/28/16]


Impacts of climate change: “[Iowa] will face the highest likely losses of any Midwest state from climate-related commodity crop yield declines. By the end of this century, absent significant adaptation by Iowa farmers, the state could face likely declines in its signature corn crop of 18% to 77%—a huge hit for a corn industry worth nearly $10 billion.” [Risky Business, January 2015]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 44%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R): “We had global warming between 1940 and 1998. Since then, we haven’t had a rise in temperature. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a problem. If that problem is going to be solved, it ought to be solved by an international treaty.” [Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network, 5/17/14]

Former Lt. Governor Patty Judge (D): “Climate change is very real. It is a serious issue it should be treated that way…It is not just ours here in Iowa or even in the United States. One of the things that we need to do immediately is try to move our self away from petroleum-based or fuels from carbon-based fueling of this country, and, you know, we started doing that here in Iowa and we’ve been very successful with developing our alternative energy programs.” [Iowa Public Radio, 5/31/16]


Impacts of climate change: “Heat waves, more powerful storms, and rising seas are increasingly transforming Maine—effects that most climate scientists trace to greenhouse gases warming the planet…Over the past 100 years, temperatures throughout the Northeast have risen by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit…Precipitation has increased by more than 10 percent, with the worst storms bringing significantly more rain and snow. And sea levels have climbed by a foot. A study by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute this year found that coastal waters are warming at a rate faster than 99 percent of the world’s other oceans.” [Boston Globe, 9/21/14]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 42%

Presidential battleground? Yes. (Maine allocates electoral votes by congressional district, and the 2nd district is competitive.)


Impacts of climate change: “Changing the climate is likely to harm water quality in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. Warmer water tends to cause more algal blooms, which can be unsightly, harm fish, and degrade water quality. During August 2014, an algal bloom in Lake Erie prompted the Monroe County Health Department to advise residents in four townships to avoid using tap water for cooking and drinking. Severe storms increase the amount of pollutants that run off from land to water, so the risk of algal blooms will be greater if storms become more severe. Severe rainstorms can also cause sewers to overflow into lakes and rivers, which can threaten beach safety and drinking water supplies.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Yes.


Impacts of climate change: “The state has warmed one to three degrees (F) in the last century. Floods are becoming more frequent, and ice cover on lakes is forming later and melting sooner. In the coming decades, these trends are likely to continue. Rising temperatures may interfere with winter recreation, extend the growing season, change the composition of trees in the North Woods, and increase water pollution problems in lakes and rivers. The state will have more extremely hot days, which may harm public health in urban areas and corn harvests in rural areas.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Perhaps.


Impacts of climate change: “Seventy years from now, Missouri is likely to have more than 25 days per year with temperatures above 95°F, compared with 5 to 15 today. Hot weather causes cows to eat less, produce less milk, and grow more slowly—and it could threaten their health. Even during the next few decades, hotter summers are likely to reduce yields of corn. But higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase crop yields, and that fertilizing effect is likely to offset the harmful effects of heat on soybeans, assuming that adequate water is available. On farms without irrigation, however, increasingly severe droughts could cause more crop failures. ” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 45%

Presidential battleground? Probably not.

Senate race:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R): “Electric service providers in Missouri have warned that the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan will raise energy costs for Missourians, reduce jobs, and hurt our state’s economic competitiveness. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve fought hard to ensure provisions that would defund this harmful power grab were included in the final appropriations bill. I also support legislation to block this harmful rule and protect workers and families from the damaging effects of the Obama Administration’s executive overreach and costly energy regulations.” [Blunt press release, 8/3/15]

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D): “He understands that climate change is a real consequence of human activity and we have a moral obligation to address this challenge. That means reducing carbon pollution and accelerating our transition to clean energy, not only to protect our planet, but also to ensure our national security.” [Kander campaign website, accessed 10/31/16]

Gubernatorial race

Eric Greitens (R): “Federal overreach from agencies like the EPA is hurting family farms. I will fight against these crippling regulations, and always side with the hard working farmers and ranchers of Missouri.” [Greitens campaign website, accessed 10/31/16]

Missouri Attorney Gen. Chris Koster (D): “The EPA’s Clean Power rule effectively eliminates Missouri’s competitive advantage as a low energy-cost state…A significant question exists whether the final rule goes beyond EPA’s authority to set emission standards…For these reasons, I have decided to file suit against the EPA as soon as the final rule is published. Look folks, I believe that climate change is real, and cleaner energy production is an important state goal, one Missouri’s energy producers are already aggressively working toward…However, it is essential that we achieve these goals in a responsible way that makes sense for Missouri’s economy and Missouri’s future.” [Koster speech transcript, 10/9/15]


Impacts of climate change: “Since the 1950s, the snowpack in Montana has been decreasing. Diminishing snowpack can shorten the season for skiing and other forms of winter tourism and recreation…More than one thousand glaciers cover about 26 square miles of mountains in Montana, but that area is decreasing in response to rising temperatures. Glacier National Park’s glaciers receded rapidly during the last century.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 46%

Presidential battleground? No.

Gubernatorial race:

Gov. Steve Bullock (D): “Steve believes Montanans should control our own energy future. He introduced a balanced and responsible plan that builds upon Montana’s traditional base of energy generation, like coal in Colstrip, while sparking a new generation of clean technology development, investing in renewables like wind and solar and encouraging innovation, savings, and energy efficiency for homes and businesses.” [Bullock campaign website, accessed 10/31/16]

Greg Gianforte (R): “This [the Supreme Court’s decision to halt the Clean Power Plan] is great news for Montana, but the fight isn’t over. We cannot rest. We must keep up the pressure and work to defeat this “costly power plan” once and for all.” [Gianfote press release, 2/9/16]


Impacts of climate change: “The number of high temperature stress days over 100°F is projected to increase substantially in Nebraska and the Great Plains region. By mid-century (2041?2070), this increase for Nebraska would equate to experiencing typical summer temperatures equivalent to those experienced during the 2012 drought and heat wave.” [University of Nebraska-Lincoln, September 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 47%

Presidential battleground? Trump will win Nebraska, but the state awards its electoral votes by congressional district, and the 2nd district might be up for grabs.


Impacts of climate change: “Much of Nevada’s tourist income comes from attractions that will be vulnerable to climate impacts. For instance, Las Vegas’s 45 golf courses, which are used by one-third of all visitors, could see a sharp decline in golfers due to rising temperatures and decreased water supplies…Lower water levels in Lake Mead significantly reduced recreational visitors, especially boaters, as marinas and docks were left high and dry.” [Demos, 4/19/12]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 41%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D): “The Clean Power Plan is a bold step not just in lowering carbon emissions, but also in creating the clean energy jobs of the future.  With our abundance of wind, solar, and geothermal energy, Nevada has been a leader in moving away from carbon emissions and embracing a clean energy economy that has created good-paying jobs in our state that can’t be shipped overseas.” [Cortez Masto campaign press release, 8/3/15]

Rep. Joe Heck (R): “To maintain our economic and national security, we must maximize all of our nation’s energy resources, including renewable sources, alternative fuels, and fossil fuels, all in a way that balances economic development and protecting our environment. Nevada is poised to lead our nation in renewable development and we must harness those resources. However, we shouldn’t penalize those that depend on fossil fuels for energy and the jobs they provide. [The Clean Power Plan] is not the all-of-the-above energy strategy needed to boost job creation and reduce energy prices for families.” [Heck press release, 8/3/15]

On the ballot:

Electricity Deregulation (Question 3): Nevadans will be voting on a state constitutional amendment that would dismantle the monopoly held by NV Energy, the state’s biggest utility. If Question 3 passes—and then passes again in 2018—consumers will be able to purchase power from any electricity retailer willing to sell it. The measure is backed by a number of large, energy-intensive businesses in the state, including Tesla and Sheldon Adelson’s Sands casinos. Proponents argue deregulation will allow them to purchase cheaper renewable energy. According to the Wall Street Journal, one of Questions 3’s supporters, a Nevada data storage company called Switch, “estimates it is currently paying NV Energy as much as 80% more for green power than it would pay a competitive supplier.” Opponents, including the state’s AFL-CIO chapter, counter that the measure could harm consumers and cost jobs, according to the Journal. (For more on the problems surrounding energy deregulation, read our investigation.)

New Hampshire

Impacts of climate change: “The frequency of extreme heat days is projected to increase dramatically, and the hottest days will be hotter, raising concerns regarding the impact of extreme, sustained heat on human health, infrastructure, and the electrical grid…Southern New Hampshire can also expect to experience more extreme precipitation events in the future. For example, under the high emissions scenario, events that drop more than four inches of precipitation in forty-eight hours are projected to increase two- to three-fold across much of southern New Hampshire by the end of the century.” [University of New Hampshire, 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D): “Yes I do [believe climate change is man-made]. I have been fighting climate change and working to improve our environment. Sen. Ayotte, when she first ran for the United States Senate, doubted whether climate change was real. And I have the endorsement of the Sierra Club, and I’m very proud of that.” [NH1 TV debate via Media Matters, 10/27/16]

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R): “I do believe that [climate change] is real, and Gov. Hassan again needs to understand that I was the first Republican in the country to support the president’s Clean Power Plan, that I’ve crossed party lines, even taken criticism from my own party to protect New Hampshire’s environment, and that goes back to my time as attorney general.” [NH1 TV debate via Media Matters, 10/27/16]

Gubernatorial race:

Chris Sununu, member of the New Hampshire Executive Council (R): “I’m an environmental engineer…The Earth has been slowly warming since the mid-1800s; there’s not doubt about that. Is it man-made or not? Look, one thing I do know: Nobody knows for sure…One of the biggest concerns of this entire issue is that we’ve created all this regulation that pushes down on businesses and pushes down on individuals. I’m going to free that up and do it smart and responsibly.” [WMUR debate, 9/7/16]

Colin Van Ostern, member of the New Hampshire Executive Council (D): “Van Ostern is a strong advocate for clean energy, and he’ll increase investment in solar and renewable energy. He believes clean energy projects are critical for boosting our clean tech economy, limiting energy costs, protecting our environment, and creating thousands of jobs.” [Van Ostern campaign website, accessed 11/3/16]

North Carolina

Impacts of climate change: “Most of the state has warmed one-half to one degree (F) in the last century, and the sea is rising about one inch every decade. Higher water levels are eroding beaches, submerging low lands, exacerbating coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and aquifers.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 44%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Sen. Richard Burr (R): “US Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., voted against legislation in January 2015 that declared in part that ‘human activity contributes to climate change.’…’Senator Burr believes that climate change is real and humans do contribute to those changes,’ said spokesman Jesse Hunt. ‘However, it is his belief that the best way to reduce emissions and pollution is not through partisan political theater but through developing consensus on areas that will bring about effectual change.'” [Citizen-Times, 10/4/16]

Former State Rep. Deborah Ross (D): “[Ross] voted repeatedly to support clean energy, oppose fracking, address climate change, and protect North Carolina’s land, air, and water…Deborah knows that we need to slow the harmful effects of climate change. The best ways to do this are to invest in renewable energy and clean technology.” [Ross campaign website, accessed 11/1/16]

Gubernatorial race:

Gov. Pat McCrory (R): “I believe there is climate change. I’m not sure you can call it climate warming anymore, especially here in the Carolinas. I think the big debate is how much of it is man-made and how much of it will just naturally happen as Earth evolves.” [ABC, 2/16/14]

North Carolina Attorney Gen. Roy Cooper (D): “A strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand. I am glad North Carolina has become a leader in renewable energy technology and that energy companies are shifting toward more sustainable power supplies than coal. As Attorney General, I have disagreed with the state environmental regulators who were focused on scoring political points rather than protecting our water, air and other natural resources.” [Cooper campaign website, accessed 11/1/16]


Impacts of climate change: “In Lake Erie, the changing climate is likely to harm water quality. Warmer water tends to cause more algal blooms, which can be unsightly, harm fish, and degrade water quality. During August 2014, an algal bloom in Lake Erie prompted the City of Toledo to ban drinking and cooking with tap water. Severe storms also increase the amount of pollutants that run off from land to water, so the risk of algal blooms will be greater if storms become more severe. Increasingly severe rainstorms could also cause sewers to overflow into the Great Lakes more often, threatening beach safety and drinking water supplies.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 45%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Sen. Rob Portman (R): “[Portman voted] ‘yes’ this week on an amendment declaring that climate change is real, caused by human activity, and Congress should do something about it. In January, Portman voted ‘no’ on a similar amendment, which said ‘human activity significantly’ contributes to climate change…Portman, who is seeking re-election in a key swing state, said he opposed the January measure because he’s not sure how much of a factor human activity is in global warming. ‘I’m not going to quantify it because scientists have a lot of different views on that,’ he told reporters Thursday…Portman has been a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s new regulations designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/29/15]

Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D): “Strickland supports Obama’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants while boosting clean-energy jobs. He says he wants to be sure its implementation doesn’t hurt Ohio, although it is unclear how he or anyone could do anything about it if that happens. But one way, he and other Democrats say, is to support expansion of alternative energy sources—wind, solar, biomass—and help those industries become catalysts for jobs. As governor, Strickland signed a bill with the goal of getting 25 percent of electricity sold in Ohio to come from alternative energy sources by 2025—a plan that Gov. John Kasich, who defeated Strickland in 2010, put on ice.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/3/15]


Impacts of climate change: “Reduced snowpacks, less water for irrigation, drought-related wildfires, rising sea levels and insect-infested timber. Those are just a few of the impacts of climate disruption that could affect Oregonians, two environmental groups warned Tuesday.” [The Oregonian, 5/6/14]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 40%

Presidential battleground? No.

Gubernatorial race:

Gov. Kate Brown (D): “This year, Oregon became the first state to envision a future without coal-powered electricity when Kate signed the nation’s first ‘coal-to-clean’ law, which will completely phase out dirty coal power by 2030 and double Oregon’s reliance on renewable energy by 2040. In 2015, she stood up to Big Oil and signed a law that bolsters the use of cleaner-burning vehicle fuels in Oregon. Kate will continue the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support innovation that reduces Oregon’s reliance on fossil fuels.” [Brown campaign website, accessed 11/1/16]

Bud Pierce (R): “Repeal the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Law so ordinary Oregonians will not have to spend an extra 19 cents to a dollar per gallon of gasoline in a hidden gas tax whose proceeds will go to state-favored, out-of-state green energy companies.” [Pierce campaign website, accessed 11/1/16]


Impacts of climate change: “The commonwealth has warmed more than half a degree (F) in the last century, heavy rainstorms are more frequent, and the tidal portion of the Delaware River is rising about one inch every eight years. In the coming decades, changing the climate is likely to increase flooding, harm ecosystems, disrupt farming, and increase some risks to human health.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 44%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Sen. Pat Toomey (R): “Senator Toomey believes that coal is an essential part of America’s energy future, not to mention an important part of Pennsylvania’s economy. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been especially aggressive in pursuing regulations that specifically target coal power plants. These regulations have already put hundreds of Pennsylvanians out of work and will continue to cause economic distress while yielding negligible benefits for our environment.” [Toomey Senate website, accessed 11/1/16]

Katie McGinty, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection (D): “Climate change presents a serious global threat to our health, economic well-being and national security. In the Senate, I will lead the way to a healthier and safer environment by working to pass commonsense climate protections with investments in energy efficiency and clean energy.” [McGinty campaign website, accessed 11/1/16]


Impacts of climate change: “[Utah] has warmed about two degrees (F) in the last century. Throughout the western United States, heat waves are becoming more common, and snow is melting earlier in spring. In the coming decades, the changing climate is likely to decrease the flow of water in Utah’s rivers, increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires, and decrease the productivity of ranches and farms.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 48%

Presidential battleground? Supposedly.


Impacts of climate change: “High nighttime temperatures are increasingly common and have widespread impacts on humans, recreation and energy demand. In winter months, warmer nighttime temperatures threaten snow and ice cover for winter recreation. In summer months, this causes increased demand for cooling. An increase in high-energy electric (lighting) storms is projected to continue particularly threatening infrastructure and transportation systems.” [Vermont Climate Assessment, 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 38%

Presidential battleground? No.

Gubernatorial race:

Sue Minter, former Vermont secretary of transportation (D): “I’m opposed to a carbon tax. But I am very concerned about climate change. And I think it is clear that change is not just real—it is here; it is having an enormous effect on all of us…I have plans to address climate change, focusing on our clean, green energy future here. Looking at collaborating with other northeastern states like we’ve done before to reduce carbon emissions.” [WPTZ debate via Media Matters, 10/25/16]

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott: “I would veto [a carbon tax] if it hit my desk. I believe that this would just ratchet up the cost of living across Vermont. I don’t think that we can afford it. I’m not looking to do anything that would raise the cost of living on already-struggling Vermonters.” [WPTZ debate via Media Matters, 10/25/16]

Former baseball player Bill Lee (Liberty Union Party): Um, well, just watch this video:


Impacts of climate change: “The combination of land subsidence, sea level rise, flat and low tidewater topography and intensive coastal real estate and infrastructure development puts southeastern Virginia, namely the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Hampton Roads region, at extreme risk from storm surges…Climate change will make the situation much worse.” [Demos, 4/19/12]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

West Virginia

Impacts of climate change: “During the next century, average annual precipitation and the frequency of heavy downpours are likely to keep rising. Average precipitation is likely to increase during winter and spring but not change significantly during summer and fall. Rising temperatures will melt snow earlier in spring and increase evaporation, and thereby dry the soil during summer and fall. As a result, changing the climate is likely to intensify flooding during winter and spring, and droughts during summer and fall.” [EPA, August 2016]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 49%

Presidential battleground? No.

Gubernatorial race:

Jim Justice, billionaire coal baron (D): “Until we have really accurate data to prove [that humans contribute to climate change] I don’t think we need to blow our legs off on a concept. I welcome the scientific approach to it and the knowledge. I would not sit here and say, ‘absolutely now, there’s no such thing’ or I would no way on Earth say there is such a thing. I believe there’s an awful lot of scientist that say, ‘no, no, no, this is just smoke and mirrors.’ I welcome the discussion, but I don’t know, I just don’t know.” [The Register-Herald, 4/27/16]


State Senate President Bill Cole, (R): “West Virginia must continue to lead the fight for our energy industry against an Obama administration that’s dead set on destroying the development of fossil fuels. The rich history of our state has always been tied to its abundance of natural resources. Those whose motives are highly questionable—will say that the days of coal, oil and gas are over and that we need to move on to solar, wind and other alternative sources of power…Bill Cole supports Donald Trump for President because he will allow our miners to go back to work, let us harness our natural gas, and free us of the impossible roadblock to growth that is the EPA.” [Cole campaign website, accessed 11/3/16]


Impacts of climate change: “In Washington and Oregon, more than 140,000 acres of coastal lands lie within 3.3 feet in elevation of high tide. As sea levels continue to rise, these areas will be inundated more frequently…Ocean acidification threatens culturally and commercially significant marine species directly affected by changes in ocean chemistry (such as oysters) and those affected by changes in the marine food web (such as Pacific salmon)…Warmer water in regional estuaries (such as Puget Sound) may contribute to a higher incidence of harmful blooms of algae linked to paralytic shellfish poisoning.” [National Climate Assessment, 2014]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 40%

Presidential battleground? No.

On the ballot:

Carbon Tax (I-732): Washington voters will decide whether to adopt a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Revenue from the tax would be offset through a sales tax reduction, as well as through tax rebates and credits to individuals and businesses. A number of environmentalists support I-732, but other environmentalists oppose it; they argue that it won’t do enough to support clean energy, that it will disproportionately hurt low-income residents, and that communities of color didn’t have enough input in developing the proposal.


Impacts of climate change: “Research suggests that warming temperatures in spring and fall would help boost agricultural production by extending the growing season across the state. However, increased warming during the summer months could reduce yields of crops such as corn and soybeans, with studies suggesting that every 2° F of warming could decrease corn yields by 13 percent and soybean yields by 16 percent.” [Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, 2011]

Percentage of residents who are climate deniers: 43%

Presidential battleground? Yes.

Senate race:

Sen. Ron Johnson (R): “I’ve never denied climate change. It’s always changed, always will. I would ask the questioner: What would happen if we had no sun? It would be a cold, hard rock orbiting in space. So obviously the sun has the primary effect on weather and climate on planet Earth. So I’m just not a climate change alarmist…The jury’s out [on man-made climate change]…I’m a skeptic.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview, 10/21/16]

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D): “This is enormously threatening to the future of our country and our planet. Anyone who talks about children, grandchildren, great grandchildren has to take this seriously. The climate is obviously changing dramatically.” [WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, 11/2/16]

This article has been revised.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


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