"Despite the fact that many of us are sleep-deprived, it's a great day for our environment," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, one of the world's most influential environmental groups, alongside several other leaders of like-minded groups.
A number of clever one-liners were aimed at fossil-fuel interests, including this one by Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America: "Knock baby knock beat drill baby drill."
"We're all smiling today," said a grinning Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
Indeed, several candidates backed by environmentalists won on Tuesday. Some were unexpected victories, such as Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester's survival against Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana, and some had been nervously anticipated, most notably President Obama's decisive Electoral College win over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
It's an open question how much environmentalists contributed to victories over candidates whose races were fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas interests, but that didn't stop eco-leaders from taking credit.
"This is the first time ever we've had a great coalition of environmental groups, thousands of volunteers," Brune said. "Almost every major environmental group had a big role in this election ... the results of that are astounding."
The League of Conservation Voters, Environment America, and the Sierra Club spent the most among environmental groups this election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. LCV spent roughly $14 million, Environment America $1.1 million, and the Sierra Club $712,000. On the other side of the fight, major spenders among fossil-fuel companies included Chevron ($3.7 million), ExxonMobil ($2.1 million), and Koch Industries ($1.9 million).
Fossil-fuel and other major industry interests were much quieter on Wednesday, with only a few groups putting out press releases and some holding conference calls. The American Petroleum Institute, one of the most influential opponents of Obama's energy policies, is holding a press call on Thursday with its president, Jack Gerard -- a close confidante of Romney who was considered a likely shoo-in for a senior position in a Romney administration.
Instead, Gerard will duke it out with environmentalists over the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, which Obama had delayed in response to environmental opposition. Brune and others at Wednesday's press conference said blocking the pipeline will be a top priority for them.
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