This week orientation is underway for U.S. House freshman and one lesson should not be lost on incoming members: voters are not rewarding extremism, including on energy and the environment.
On election day I told you about 10 races to watch to determine if the next Congress would have fewer dirty air villains and more clean air heroes. I’m happy to report that, even though control of the House stayed the same, six of these 10 dirty air villains were defeated. What’s more, of all the 16 Republicans defeated or currently trailing in their races, a majority of them were dirty air villains who had voted against clean air protections 100% of the time.
The message should be clear that extremists out of step with their constituents on the range of issues, including clean air and energy, and were sent packing as a result. And even though Republicans held the House, they lost ground there nonetheless, just as they did in the Senate and at the state level even as they were failing to retake the White House.
Let’s look at how those ten races to watch turned out. Current vote counts suggest that six out of ten of these races will go to the cleaner candidate. Voters ousted Reps. Allen West (FL-18), David Rivera (FL-26), Joe Walsh (IL-08), Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-24) and Francisco Canseco (TX-23). And if the current lead holds, Dr. Ami Bera will take the seat currently held by Dirty Air Villain and Flat Earther Dan Lungren (CA-07).
While the 113th Congress will have between 79 and 85 new members, only 26 incumbents appear to have actually lost. Of the Republicans who lost, an outsize portion — ten out of sixteen – were Dirty Air Villains.  Clean Air Heroes fared much better. In fact when you discard the three Clean Air Heroes who lost to other clean candidates in California’s new “top-two” voting system, only one of the seven incumbent Democrats who lost was a Clean Air Hero. 
Some Republicans, like vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, take continued control of the House as a public mandate for GOP business as usual. However, to do so is to miss the warning signs about eroding public support for extremism within the party from the Tea Party and other sources. The Republicans maintained control of the House through contorted gerrymandering even though a majority of American voters chose Democratic candidates. This sleight of hand will be slight protection unless the party rejects the anti-environmental that led the House to vote against the environment 316 times in a single (unfinished) Congress.
What does this tell us? That trying to appease the polluters who fund campaigns rather than voters who want clean air and clean energy is not a winning strategy. Make no mistake, in competitive House races the dirtiest members of both parties were the ones putting themselves at risk.
 Dirty Air Villains: Bono Mack, Buerkle, Canseco, Cravaack, Guinta, Lungren Rivera, Schilling, Walsh, West. Not villains: Bartlett, Bass, Biggert, Bilbray, Dold, Hayworth. As of this writing, Bilbray, Lungren and West were all trailing in the vote count.
 Clean Air Heroes Berman, Richardson and Stark lost to other Democrats. Hero Sutton lost to Dirty Air Villain Renacci. Losing Democrats who were not heroes: Baca, Boswell, Chandler, Critz, Hochul, Kissell.