These rankings are a guideline, and we exercise the right to deviate from them as necessary. For example, a recent, very damaging vote could bring a candidate down a ranking, even if they still technically meet the requirements of the higher one.
“Excellent” candidates must address at least three major areas of sustainability and have a pristine voting or activist record. One of these areas must address increasing renewable energy in America, which includes plans to achieve this goal and past work that demonstrates significant involvement in sustainability efforts. For incumbents, pro-sustainability platforms reflect in their voting record. For activists, this could be reflected in a lot of different ways, but candidates must show a dedicated involvement with expanding renewable energy resources in America. (“Excellent” incumbent candidates have a general League of Conservation Voters lifetime score of 90% or higher.)
“Good” candidates must address at least two major areas of sustainability and show no support for fossil fuels. (The only exception for fossil fuel support includes incumbents with a phase-out plan and an LCV score of 80% or higher.) These candidates may not have a clear or strong path to a sustainable future, but they avidly support environmental causes and recognize this as an issue to address in office. (“Good” incumbents up for re-election have a general LCV lifetime score of 75% or higher.)
“Weak” candidates indicate support for addressing environmental concerns, but they lack specific areas of focus or plans to mitigate threats to sustainability. These candidates have little to no prior experience in this area and provide little discussion on the topic. (“Weak” incumbents up for re-election have a general LCV lifetime score of 74% or lower, or their scorecard has been serially inactive.)
“Mixed” candidates have conflicting stances on sustainability. Most commonly, these candidates adopt an “all of the above” energy approach (which includes renewable and nonrenewable sources). These candidates often express that they want to support sustainability, but don’t want to “overburden” agricultural or residential communities with energy price increases or “red tape.” (“Mixed” incumbents up for re-election have a general LCV lifetime score of 50-70%, depending on their current stances .)
“Bad” candidates consist of climate-change deniers and those who oppose sustainability efforts. Some candidates in this ranking may present energy as an “all of the above” approach, but they also actively support efforts to neglect or harm the environment (such as supporting US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, fracking, but only in certain areas, defunding national parks, etc.). “Bad” incumbents have a general LCV lifetime score of 50% or less, regardless of how active their score is.
Unsurprisingly, “unknown” candidates do not provide information about their sustainability platform. When a candidate is “unknown,” our reviews will indicate whether platform issues were not found, or if platform issues were listed and excluded sustainability.