@JoeBiden wins, ending 4 years of environmental destruction — Grist

Photo credit: JoeBiden.com

From Grist (Zoya Teirstein):

After more than three days of uncertainty, CNN and the Associated Press have declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election. It wasn’t the landslide Democrats had hoped for.

At the beginning of the night on Tuesday, it looked like election forecasts that had predicted a blue wave were plagued by a 100 percent margin of error. But as time went on and mail-in ballots rolled in, the former vice president steadily edged ahead of incumbent Donald Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania. The Keystone State finally pushed Biden over the 270 electoral vote mark. At about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Biden finally claimed victory.

Biden’s win marks the beginning of the end of one of the most environmentally damaging terms in United States presidential history. During his nearly four years in office, Trump successfully rolled back dozens upon dozens of environmental protections, dismantling Obama’s climate legacy with a vengeance.

His anti-environment agenda began in earnest with a vow to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement (a move Biden has promised to reverse once he’s in office — something easier said than done). Since 2017, Trump has sought to remove safeguards from treasured national monuments, made life more dangerous for some very good looking birds, tried to force states to relax their fuel efficiency standards, repealed Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and made it easier for coal-fired power plants to pollute nearby water supplies, among many, many other regulatory changes. Under his leadership, career scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies have resigned — citing industry meddling, internal pressure to withhold scientific findings, and other factors more evocative of a Soviet-era Russian government than a 21st-century American one.

It’s likely that Trump will continue dismantling the nation’s environmental protections until January 20. But the good news is there is now an end in sight. The next administration aims to be the polar opposite of the Trump administration on most issues, and especially the environment.

Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan is a cheaper version of what Green New Deal advocates have been publicly pushing for since February 2019. The plan calls for a massive investment in renewable energy, emissions technology, green jobs, and environmental justice. Ahead of the election, Biden surrounded himself with a diverse group of climate advisors, seeking input from Varshini Prakash, the co-founder of the youth-led climate group the Sunrise Movement, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and the Green New Deal co-mastermind herself, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

In the final days of his general election campaign, Biden did what few other presidential candidates have done by making climate change one of his main closing arguments. His campaign pushed out climate ads in Michigan, on cable TV, and on Twitter. At the final presidential debate in Nashville, Biden made history by promising to “transition” the U.S. off of oil (something Trump thought, incorrectly, would tank the Democrat’s favorability).

During the Democratic presidential primary, Biden went from forgotten underdog to presidential nominee in a matter of months. In the general election, he bested Trump despite the incumbent’s ferocious and unyielding offensive strategy. Next up? The most difficult hurdle yet: getting comprehensive climate policy through Congress, possibly without the aid of a Democratically controlled Senate.

The Biggest Environmental Wins and Losses of the #2020Election — The Revalator

From The Revelator (Tara Lohan):

The planet needed a big win, and from the top to the bottom of the ballot there were a number of crucial victories.

Election Day 2020 — the day before the United States officially left the Paris climate agreement — didn’t deliver an immediate rebuke to President Trump or relief for environmentalists.

That would have to wait.

“The election hasn’t produced the outcome that the planet badly needed,” Bill McKibben of 350.org summed up in The New Yorker the following day.

But as the votes continued to be counted in battleground states, the mood shifted from despair to hope, and finally, on Nov. 7, to celebration when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were pronounced victors.

So much was riding on this election — and not just in the United States.

“There is no pathway to meaningful global climate action without our federal government playing a prominent part,” wrote Mary Annaïse Heglar in The New Republic just before the election.

A Biden-Harris victory doesn’t undo all the environmental harm caused by the Trump administration and its 125 rollbacks of environmental protections, but it provides a much-needed opportunity to restore scientific integrity and take action on climate change, environmental justice, biodiversity and other pressing concerns.

That’s good news. And looking down the ballot there were also other environmental victories — as well as some places where ground was lost. Here are the biggest takeaways:

The Good Stuff

Few big-ticket wins were clear early except for the fact that Democrats held onto the House of Representatives — an expected but not inconsequential victory. And although their majority slimmed, several new additions will be a boon for environmental issues.

One of those is progressive Cori Bush, who cruised to victory in Missouri’s 1st congressional district. She’s the first Black woman from the state to be elected to Congress. The nurse, pastor and Black Lives Matter activist is also a Green New Deal supporter.

In gubernatorial fights, Washington’s climate champion Jay Inslee won re-election. So did Democrat Roy Cooper in North Carolina, which E&E News called a significant victory in the state’s push for clean energy.

Mark Kelly flipped a Senate seat blue in Arizona, and so did John Hickenlooper in Colorado.

Hickenlooper, a booster of the fracking industry during his time as Colorado governor, is not exactly beloved by environmentalists in the state. But his defeat of Cory Gardner was hailed by the League of Conservation Voters, which called Gardner one of “worst anti-environmental candidates” running this year. It was also the first time in 84 years that Democrats swept all statewide races in Colorado.

Along with those victories came one for wolves, too. Colorado voters passed Proposition 114, which will require the state Parks and Wildlife department to develop a restoration and management plan for the reintroduction of gray wolves. It comes less than a week after the Trump administration removed federal protection from gray wolves across the country.

Photo by Steve Felberg/Pixabay (CC)

In other statewide races, Nevada’s Question 6, which would require electric utilities to get 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030, was approved by voters. But how much that helps the state’s clean energy future is a matter of debate. Nevada has already passed similar legislation. Enshrining this benchmark into the state constitution could help protect it from future rollbacks — or it could make efforts to raise the target even harder.

Much further down the ballot, climate champions made gains in city council positions in major cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco and Portland.

Denver also approved an increase in sales tax to help fund climate and clean energy initiatives. And Columbus, Ohio passed a measure that would help the city secure more locally sourced renewable energy.

“City leadership is important for advancing climate action but new research finds U.S. cities falling behind,” Daniel Melling, communications manager for the UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, wrote for Legal Planet.

The Bad Stuff

An anticipated, decisive retaking of the Senate by Democrats never materialized, and whether it remains in Republican hands won’t be decided for bit. Two Georgia races are headed to a January runoff.

If Republicans do hang on to the Senate, that will mean any bold new climate legislation — or likely any meaningful environmental legislation at all — coming out of the House will be stymied, especially if Mitch McConnell retains his role as Senate leader.

Meanwhile several Republican senators with dismal environmental records will be back, including Iowa’s Joni Ernst, Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith, Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville and Roger Marshall from Kansas. Lindsay Graham, who has a mixed at best record when it comes to climate legislation, also returns.

While Colorado may have seen a blue wave, Montana was awash in red. A Republican sweep across the state included a victory by coal-industry ally Greg Gianforte, who took the governor’s mansion out of control of Democrats for the first time in 16 years.

Gianforte previously said he “would advocate as governor for increased port capacity on the West Coast to get coal to market,” reported E&E News. Montana coal production fell 21% during the pandemic.

Coal train loading at Spring Creek mine, Montana. Photo: WildEarth Guardians, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

“Montana didn’t just go Republican on Tuesday,” wrote Gwen Florio in The Nation. “It went deeply conservative Republican.” The effect of that will be felt not just on energy policy, but the fate of public lands and wildlife, including sage grouse and grizzlies.

In a new low, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia became the first QAnon conspiracy theory believer elected to Congress. In addition to a record of racist statements, she ran on a platform that included blocking the Green New Deal.

Democrats had hoped to make a small gain in Texas. But even $2.5 million in backing from Michael Bloomberg couldn’t get Democrat Chrysta Castañeda elected to the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees issues related to oil and gas — a state race that has worldwide impact.

The race was won by Jim Wright, whom the Huffington Post describes as “a hardcore climate change denier and owner of an oil-field services company.”

The oil industry may have also garnered a victory in Alaska. There Measure 1, which would raise taxes on some North Slope oil companies, is trailing by a wide margin.

But when you tally it all up at the end of the day — or week, really — even McKibben had to concede that overall things are looking up.

“It could have gone much better,” he wrote on Nov. 7. “(Specifically, a deadlocked Senate will make action on the dominant issue of our lifetimes, climate change, more difficult to address than it should be.) But it went.”

Farmers are depleting the #OgallalaAquifer because the government pays them to do it — The Conversation

A center-pivot sprinkler with precision application drop nozzles irrigates cotton in Texas.
USDA NRCS/Wikipedia

Matthew R Sanderson, Kansas State University; Burke Griggs, Washburn University, and Jacob A. Miller, Kansas State University

A slow-moving crisis threatens the U.S. Central Plains, which grow a quarter of the nation’s crops. Underground, the region’s lifeblood – water – is disappearing, placing one of the world’s major food-producing regions at risk.

The Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer is one of the world’s largest groundwater sources, extending from South Dakota down through the Texas Panhandle across portions of eight states. Its water supports US$35 billion in crop production each year.

But farmers are pulling water out of the Ogallala faster than rain and snow can recharge it. Between 1900 and 2008 they drained some 89 trillion gallons from the aquifer – equivalent to two-thirds of Lake Erie. Depletion is threatening drinking water supplies and undermining local communities already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis, hospital closures, soaring farm losses and rising suicide rates.

Map showing changing Ogallala Aquifer water levels over the past century
Changes in Ogallala water levels from before the aquifer was tapped in the early 20th century to 2015. Gray indicates no significant change. Water levels have risen in some areas, especially Nebraska, but are mostly in decline.
NCA 2018

In Kansas, “Day Zero” – the day wells run dry – has arrived for about 30% of the aquifer. Within 50 years, the entire aquifer is expected be 70% depleted.

Some observers blame this situation on periodic drought. Others point to farmers, since irrigation accounts for 90% of Ogallala groundwater withdrawals. But our research, which focuses on social and legal aspects of water use in agricultural communities, shows that farmers are draining the Ogallala because state and federal policies encourage them to do it.

A production treadmill

At first glance, farmers on the Plains appear to be doing well in 2020. Crop production increased this year. Corn, the largest crop in the U.S., had a near-record year, and farm incomes increased by 5.7% over 2019.

But those figures hide massive government payments to farmers. Federal subsidies increased by a remarkable 65% this year, totaling $37.2 billion. This sum includes money for lost exports from escalating trade wars, as well as COVID-19-related relief payments. Corn prices were too low to cover the cost of growing it this year, with federal subsidies making up the difference.

Our research finds that subsidies put farmers on a treadmill, working harder to produce more while draining the resource that supports their livelihood. Government payments create a vicious cycle of overproduction that intensifies water use. Subsidies encourage farmers to expand and buy expensive equipment to irrigate larger areas.

Irrigation pump in field
Irrigation pump in Haskell County, Kansas.
Matthew Sanderson/Kansas State University, CC BY-ND

With low market prices for many crops, production does not cover expenses on most farms. To stay afloat, many farmers buy or lease more acres. Growing larger amounts floods the market, further reducing crop prices and farm incomes. Subsidies support this cycle.

Few benefit, especially small and midsized operations. In a 2019 study of the region’s 234 counties from 1980 to 2010, we found that larger irrigated acreage failed to increase incomes or improve education or health outcomes for residents.

Focus on policy, not farmers

Four decades of federal, state and local conservation efforts have mainly targeted individual farmers, providing ways for them to voluntarily reduce water use or adopt more water-efficient technologies.

While these initiatives are important, they haven’t stemmed the aquifer’s decline. In our view, what the Ogallala Aquifer region really needs is policy change.

A lot can be done at the federal level, but the first principle should be “do no harm.” Whenever federal agencies have tried to regulate groundwater, the backlash has been swift and intense, with farm states’ congressional representatives repudiating federal jurisdiction over groundwater.

Nor should Congress propose to eliminate agricultural subsidies, as some environmental organizations and free-market advocates have proposed. Given the thin margins of farming and longstanding political realities, federal support is simply part of modern production agriculture.

With these cautions in mind, three initiatives could help ease pressure on farmers to keep expanding production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers to allow environmentally sensitive farmland to lie fallow for at least 10 years. With new provisions, the program could reduce water use by prohibiting expansion of irrigated acreage, permanently retiring marginal lands and linking subsidies to production of less water-intensive crops.

These initiatives could be implemented through the federal farm bill, which also sets funding levels for nonfarm subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. SNAP payments, which increase needy families’ food budgets, are an important tool for addressing poverty. Increasing these payments and adding financial assistance to local communities could offset lower tax revenues that result from from farming less acreage.

A 40-year sequence of false-color satellite images shows the spread of center-pivot irrigation around Dalhart, Texas from 1972 to 2011. The equipment creates circular patterns as a sprinkler rotates around a well pivot.

Amending federal farm credit rates could also slow the treadmill. Generous terms promote borrowing for irrigation equipment; to pay that debt, borrowers farm more land. Offering lower rates for equipment that reduces water use and withholding loans for standard, wasteful equipment could nudge farmers toward conservation.

The most powerful tool is the tax code. Currently, farmers receive deductions for declining groundwater levels and can write off depreciation on irrigation equipment. Replacing these perks with a tax credit for stabilizing groundwater and substituting a depreciation schedule favoring more efficient irrigation equipment could provide strong incentives to conserve water.

Rewriting state water laws

Water rights are mostly determined by state law, so reforming state water policies is crucial. Case law demonstrates that simply owning water rights does not grant the legal right to waste water. For more than a century courts have upheld state restrictions on waste, with rulings that allow for adaptation by modifying the definitions of “beneficial use” and “waste” over time.

Using these precedents, state water agencies could designate thirsty crops, such as rice, cotton or corn, as wasteful in certain regions. Regulations preventing unreasonable water use are not unconstitutional.

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Allowing farmers some flexibility will maximize profits, as long as they stabilize overall water use. If they irrigate less – or not at all – in years with low market prices, rules could allow more irrigation in better years. Ultimately, many farmers – and their bankers – are willing to exchange lower annual yields for a longer water supply.

As our research has shown, the vast majority of farmers in the region want to save groundwater. They will need help from policymakers to do it. Forty years is long enough to learn that the Ogallala Aquifer’s decline is not driven by weather or by individual farmers’ preferences. Depletion is a structural problem embedded in agricultural policies. Groundwater depletion is a policy choice made by federal, state and local officials.

Stephen Lauer and Vivian Aranda-Hughes, former doctoral students at Kansas State University, contributed to several of the studies cited in this article.The Conversation

Matthew R Sanderson, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Geography and Geospatial Sciences, Kansas State University; Burke Griggs, Associate Professor of Law, Washburn University, and Jacob A. Miller, PhD Student in Sociology, Kansas State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

#Loveland council to study update to raw #water master plan, water fees, November 10, 2020 — The Loveland Reporter-Herald

Looking east toward the Chimney Hollow Reservoir site, which is just this side of the red ridge. On the other side is Carter Lake Reservoir and beyond that, the Loveland area.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Max Levy):

The plan was first approved in 2005 as a way of ensuring that the city has enough water without having to cut back, even in a once-in-a-century drought. It was updated by the council in 2012.

Prepared by city staff members, the update includes several major recommendations. First, the city recommends using a model created by Spronk Water Engineers to continue prepping for a major drought, which was modeled based on the historic drought Colorado faced in 2002.

While the plan encourages water conservation as a buffer and a way of ensuring water security in the event of an even more severe drought, the plan notes that it is not “a tool to directly reduce future demands in long-term planning.”

A target of 30,000 acre-feet remains the city’s long-term goal for water demand. Currently, Loveland has access to a firm yield of about 25,210 acre-feet per year, which should increase by about 5,680 acre-feet by 2031, if the Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Loveland and the Loveland Great Western Reservoir in east Loveland are completed as recommended.

The master plan projects the resulting 30,890 acre-feet would be enough to support the city until 2056.

Loveland customers used about 13,129 acre-feet of treated water last year, or about 0.166 acre-foot per person.

Points of the recommended policy on developer contributions to the city’s raw water portfolio include:

  • Requiring at least half and allowing up to 100% of most contributions to be made in the form of Colorado-Big Thompson Project water, cash-in-lieu or cash credits in the Loveland Water Bank.
  • Decreasing the value of a C-BT credit from 1 acre-foot to 0.9 acre-foot.
  • Adjusting credits for ditch shares based on the content of the Spronk analysis.
  • Removing the 5% administrative cost on the cash-in-lieu fee and placing no limit on the amount of cash-in-lieu transactions, as long as they’re dedicated to a specific project.
  • Tying storage fees to the estimated cost of storage at Chimney Hollow Reservoir.
  • Including a fee of $482 per acre-foot in the native water storage fee to cover the engineering and legal costs of changing the use of native water in Colorado’s water courts.
  • Changing the name of the native water storage fee to the “storage fee.”
  • The plan also leaves open the possibility of the city exploring the use of untreated water for irrigation, taking into account “concerns of cross-contamination and the relatively high expense of building a new utility in already developed parts of the community.”

    Updates to water-related fees would go hand-in-hand with the plan and reflect the increasing costs of the Chimney Hollow project and C-BT water.

    For the cash-in-lieu fee, in addition to eliminating the 5% administrative add-on, the new calculation would divide the average annual C-BT price by 0.9. Previously, the fee was tied to the average price over the past three to six months.

    The native water storage fee would increase by between $15,132 per acre-foot of native water to $21,772 per acre-foot, depending on the source.

    Raw water impact fees would increase for commercial, irrigation and some residential taps and would be phased in over a period of two to 10 years.

    Loveland’s council will not vote on the items Tuesday, but members will give direction to the staff before the proposal comes back for a future vote.

    How #Indigenous voters swung the #2020election — @HighCountryNews

    From The High Country News (Anna V. Smith) [November 6, 2020]:

    In Arizona and Wisconsin, Native turnout — which often leans liberal — made the difference in Biden’s slim but winning margin.

    Biden/Harris supporter Cindy Honani stands outside the Navajo Nation Council Chamber while holding a sign above her head to protect herself from the snow in Window Rock in late October. Sharon Chischilly/Navajo Times via The High Country News

    Note: This article has been updated with voter data as of Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. mountain standard time.

    This year’s presidential election has been a close race in a handful of states, including Arizona. On Wednesday, for just the second time in 70 years, the Associated Press called the race for a Democratic presidential candidate, in part due to the Native vote.

    Indigenous people in Arizona comprise nearly 6% of the population — 424,955 people as of 2018 — and eligible voters on the Navajo Nation alone number around 67,000. Currently, the margin between Democratic candidate Joe Biden — who has released a robust policy plan for Indian Country — and incumbent President Donald Trump is 17,131 as of Monday. (Votes continue to be counted, so numbers may change)

    Precinct-level data shows that outside of heavily blue metropolitan areas like Phoenix and Tucson, which also have high numbers of Indigenous voters, much of the rural blue islands that have voted for Biden and Mark Kelly, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, are on tribal lands. On some Tohono O’odham Nation precincts, Biden and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris won 98% of the vote. As of Nov. 9, the three counties that overlap with the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation went for Biden at a rate of 57%, as opposed to 51% statewide. Voter precincts on the Navajo Nation ranged from 60-90% for Biden.

    That pattern is consistent with 2016, when the rest of the state went for Trump. “Partisan groups have long ignored Native voters, including in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana,” says Jordan James Harvill (Cherokee), chief of staff of the nonpartisan group VoteAmerica, which worked directly with Navajo Nation and community partners to get out the vote. “We view these voters as some of the highest-potential voters in the electorate and we’ll continue to invest in voters in Indian Country for years to come.”

    Indigenous people in Arizona were hit hard by the pandemic, which was exacerbated by Republican state officials who did little to limit the spread of COVID-19 through public safety measures like required mask wearing, business closures, or adequate translations for COVID-19 resources. All this was compounded by an inadequate federal response that delayed financial relief to tribal governments.

    At one point in May, the Navajo Nation had the highest ratio of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., surpassing New York City. President Jonathan Nez has criticized the Trump administration for its botched response, and the Navajo Nation has joined other tribal nations in a lawsuit over the dispersal of the funds. Recent exit polls showing how Indigenous voters favored Biden overall in Arizona also showed the pandemic response to be the most important issue on their minds.

    In the weeks before the election, several Navajo citizens filed suit against the state of Arizona over the deadline for mail-in ballots. Pointing to the myriad challenges Indigenous communities face with vote-by-mail, they asked the court to allow ballots to be postmarked — instead of received — by 7 p.m. on Election Day. They lost the case, but because of efforts by groups like VoteAmerica, Four Directions, Rural Utah Project and the Nez administration, counties like Apache County, which overlaps the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, saw 116% voter turnout compared to the 2016 election. (Votes are still being counted, so total numbers and percentages are likely to change.)

    On the Tohono O’odham Nation, which spans Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties, most precincts were above 90% for Biden, according to a statewide map pulled together by ABC15 Arizona. Throughout the Trump administration, O’odham citizens and the tribal government have been vocal in their opposition to the border wall, which Trump has forced through without tribal consultation, even as it severs the landscape and destroys ancestral O’odham sites. Those high numbers were repeated throughout precincts covering the lands of the Hualapai, Havasupai, White Mountain Apache, Gila River, San Carlos Apache, Pascua Yaqui, Cocopah and Colorado River tribes, generally within the range of 70-90% for Biden.

    Indigenous voters are by no means a monolith, and the majority of Indigenous people live in urban areas, which makes it likely that many more voted in metro areas and therefore don’t appear in voting data from tribal lands. (In fact, a survey done by a coalition of Indigenous organizations called Building Indigenous Power showed that Indigenous voters on reservations were less likely to vote compared to those in the city or small towns.) Still, clear voting patterns can be seen across Indian Country:

  • In Montana, though the state went for Trump overall, counties overlapping with the reservations of the Blackfeet Nation, Fort Belknap Tribes, the Crow Tribe and Northern Cheyenne Tribe went blue. The divides were often stark; Glacier County, encompassed by the Blackfeet Nation, went for Biden by 64%, the highest in the entire state, while the neighboring county voted for Trump by 75%. The Native vote in Montana has made the difference before, when Indigenous voters helped Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who has advocated for Indian Country in legislation regarding water settlements, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and tribal recognition, get elected the last three terms in often-close races.
  • Wisconsin, a closely watched swing state, went narrowly for Biden by around 20,500 votes. There, the Indigenous population is 90,189 people as of 2018. Wisconsin counties overlapping the lands of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Menominee Tribe and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans show that voters there helped tip the count to a Democratic majority. Menominee County, which overlaps the Menominee Tribe’s reservation, voted for Biden 82%, compared to the state as a whole at 49.4%.
  • South Dakota went for Trump by 61% — except on tribal lands. Counties overlapping the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Crow Creek tribes went for Biden. In Oglala Lakota County, which overlaps with the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Pine Ridge reservation, Biden won with 88%. In Todd County, which overlaps the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, Biden won 77% of the vote.
  • Additionally, Indigenous candidates did well: A historic six Native candidates will be heading to the U.S. Congress next term, New Mexico has made history by becoming the second state after Hawaii whose delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will now be made up entirely of women of color, two of whom are Native. That’s in addition to dozens of Indigenous candidates elected to state and local offices, 11 of which were elected to state office in Arizona.

    As the 2020 election comes to a close, James Harvill says this election illuminates the importance of the Native vote, which is likely to only grow because of an increasing young population aging into the electorate and a strong level of community support. “When we’re looking on to the next several years, we’re going to see that Native American voters become one of the defining members of the electorate, much like we’re seeing of Latinx and Black voters.”

    Anna V. Smith is an assistant editor for High Country News. Email us at editor@hcn.org or submit a letter to the editor.

    This story was originally published at High Country News (hcn.org) on November 6, 2020..