President-elect Obama Faces Challenge of a "Planet in Peril"
WASHINGTON, DC, November 5, 2008 (ENS) - 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.

President-elect Barack Obama (Photo by David Katz courtesy Obama for America)

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 - regardless 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.

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

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.