WASHINGTON, DC – In a landslide, Americans Tuesday elected Barack Obama as the first African-American president in the nation’s history. The Democratic senator from Illinois won 338 electoral college votes – far beyond the 270 needed to win election to the White House.

With 81% of all precincts nationwide reporting, votes for Obama stand at 54,996,099 (52%), while 50,320,092(47%) voters chose Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Before 70,000 people packed into Chicago’s Grant Park, Obama addressed the world for the first time as president-elect, saying, “Change has come to America.” “Above all,” he told the cheering crowd, “I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.”

Obama indicated that environmental concerns are at the forefront of his mind as he prepares for his presidency.

He quieted the crowd with sober recognition of “the enormity of the task that lies ahead.”

“For even as we celebrate tonight,” he said, “we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”

“This is our moment,” said Obama. “This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”

McCain admitted defeat late Tuesday, saying, “The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.”

McCain called Obama to offer his congratulations just after the polls closed on the West Coast, giving Obama the electoral college votes that catapulted him to victory.

“Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and his country,” said McCain.

Democrats increased their majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

With four Senate seats still undecided, the balance of power in the Senate stands at 56 seats occupied by Democrats and 40 by Republicans.

In the House, Democrats captured 247 seats to the Republicans 166.

The environment was a winner in Congressional races as at least seven of the “Dirty Dozen” lawmakers as named by the League of Conservation Voters, lost their seats.

On October 24, the LCV announced its trademark Dirty Dozen candidates for Congress. These are legislators – rfgardless of party affiliation – who consistently vote against clean energy and conservation and are running in races in which an LCV campaign against them has a substantial chance to affect the outcome.

“The Dirty Dozen represent the biggest roadblocks in Congress on the road to America’s clean energy future,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “Siding with the oil industry at every turn, they have consistently voted against policies that would create jobs, ensure our national security, and guarantee a sustainable future for our country.”

“Members of Congress who have consistently sided with the oil industry and against the interests of those they are elected to represent need to go,” said Karpinski. “LCV is proud of its record of defeating members of the Dirty Dozen and we expect to build on that record in 2008.”

The election results for the 2008 League of Conservation Voters’ Dirty Dozen List show at least seven of them were defeated. The assessments of their legislative performance are those of the LCV.

OUT – Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican Senator – Dole’s lifetime LCV score is 12%. She is one of Big Oil’s biggest Congressional allies, and has consistently voted to extend tax breaks and subsidies to the industry, weaken automobile fuel efficency standards, and eliminate any increase in renewable energy production. She has accepted $312,606 from the oil and gas industry. Dole was defeated by state senator Democrat Kay Hagen.

OUT – Dean Andal, California Republican Congressman – Andal received a 9% lifetime score from the California League of Conservation Voters. During his time as a state senator, he voted against banning offshore drilling and routinely opposed legislation promoting fuel efficiency and cutting petroleum use, measures that would save consumers hundreds of dollars each year. Andal was defeated by incumbent Congressman Jerry McNerney, a renewable energy engineer.

OUT – Joe Knollenberg, Michigan Republican Congressman – Knollenberg has repeatedly voted for corporate polluters and against environmental protections, earning him a lifetime LCV score of only 9%. An opponent of fuel efficiency and renewable energy, he has taken $642,388 in contributions from polluting energy interests since 2001. Knollenberg was defeated by former state senator and lottery commissioner Gary Peters, the first Democrat to represent the district in 75 years.

OUT – Anne Northup, former Kentucky Republican Congresswoman, Louisville – Northup has a lifetime LCV score of only 7% and voted against every major piece of environmental legislation in the 109th Congress. She has accepted $334,877 from oil and gas interests during her career. Northup was defeated by incumbent Congressman John Yarmuth, who defeated her to win the seat two years ago.

OUT – Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican Congressman who ran for a U.S. Senate seat – Pearce earned a pathetic 3% lifetime LCV score and has earned three 0% scores in his tenure. Since his election, there have been 93 key conservation votes in Congress and, in all but three, Pearce has voted against clean air, clean energy, and protecting our natural heritage. He has accepted more from the oil and gas industry, $706,324, than from any other economic sector. Pearce, who owned a small oil services company, says he supports clean coal technology. Pearce was defeated by Tom Udall, the son of former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall and nephew of former Arizona Congressman Mo Udall, who has pledged to carry on a family tradition of conservation. He earned a 92% on the latest LCV scorecard.

OUT – Bob Schaffer, Colorado Republican businessman running for a seat in the Senate – A career politician-turned-oil executive, Schaffer has a 5% LCV lifetime. He was a major proponent of the Bush/Cheney energy plan, which doled out $33 billion in tax breaks for the energy industry. Now, as an energy executive, he has made oil deals in Iraq and his company has sided with the dirty energy of the past instead of the clean, renewable energy of the future. He has accepted $242,826 from oil and gas interests. Schaffer was defeated by another member of the Udall family, Democrat Mark Udall who gave up his seat in the House of Representatives to run for the Senate seat. Mark Udall also earned a 92% on the latest LCV scorecard.

OUT – Tim Walberg, Michigan Republican Congressman – Walberg was one of the most anti-environment members of the 2006 Congressional class, has an abysmal 3% LCV lifetime score, and, in 2008, voted against every major piece of clean energy and energy efficiency legislation. In a close race, Walberg was defeated by state senator Mark Schauer.

Four of the LCV’s Dirty Dozen lawmakers were re-elected.

IN – Jim Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a position California Senator Barbara Boxer now holds. Inhofe has a lifetime LCV score of 4%, one of the lowest in Congress. He refuses to acknowledge the existence of global warming and consistently has voted on the side of polluters while taking more than $1.1 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests.

IN – Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator from Kentucky, who has served as Senate Minority Leader since 2006 – McConnell has a measly 7% lifetime LCV score, has earned an annual score of 0% an astounding 12 times, and has cast only three pro-conservation votes in the last 14 years. He has accepted $713,961 from oil and gas interests. McConnell was overwhelmingly chosen as the 2008 candidate who has committed the most egregious environmental offenses in an online vote by over 25,000 concerned citizens.

IN – Sam Graves, Missouri Republican Congressman – Grave’s lifetime LCV score is a feeble 4%. Since elected, he has consistently voted in line with the failed Bush/Cheney energy policies. He voted against efforts to increase the use of clean energy technologies, against maintaining the standards of the Clean Water Act, and against taking away royalties and tax incentives for Big Oil.

IN – Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democratic Senator – Landrieu has the worst LCV Lifetime score of any Democrat in the Senate currently running for re-election and is the only Democrat on the 2008 Dirty Dozen List. She has accepted more than $666,994 from the oil and gas industries and in 2003, 2005, and 2007 voted to give billions in tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies while voting against fuel efficiency 11 times since 1999. The last two of the Dirty Dozen races have yet to be decided because they are both in Alaska, but at posting time it appears as if Senator Ted Stevens, 84, will be re-elected to his eighth term in the Senate. IN – Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican Senator – Since 1977, Stevens has voted for billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies. His lifetime LCV score is a mere 13% and he was found guilty by an Alaska jury of taking illegal gifts from oil industry executives. He has accepted nearly half a million dollars in legal donations from oil and gas interests as well. He supports construction of a natural gas pipeline and opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

TO BE DETERMINED – Don Young, Alaska Republican Congressman – Young has served in Congress over 30 years, has a lifetime LCV score of just 9%, and has scored 0% a staggering 13 times on LCV’s National Scorecard. Time and time again he has voted against repealing subsides for Big Oil. He has accepted more that $963,763 from the oil and gas industry since taking office. Since the Dirty Dozen was launched in 1996, the League of Conservation Voters has defeated more than half of the candidates named to the Dirty Dozen List.

© 2008 Environmental News Service (ENS)