President Barack Obama had hoped to make addressing climate change and the transformation of the U.S. energy generation system one of the chief legacies of his administration. The Republican takeover in the Senate and the increased Republican majority in the House of Representatives will likely stymie the president's efforts to impose various forms of energy rationing.
Keystone Pipeline: No less than three environmental reviews have found that this pipeline that would transport nearly 1 million barrels per day of Canadian oilsands crude to the Gulf Coast for refining is adequately safe. In a perfect example of cowardly political calculation, the president has been afraid to nix the project because it would alienate the crucial union voting bloc. Now both the House and the Senate will pass legislation approving the pipeline which the president may well veto. Who's causing gridlock now?
U.N. Climate Change negotiations: The nations of the world are supposed to adopt a binding treaty limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases at the 2015 U.N. climate change conference in Paris. The president has long recognized that there was no way that such a treaty would obtain the required two-thirds vote of the Senate for ratification. Instead, the president has devised a plan in which a U.S. pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050 would be tacked onto the existing U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The president argues that such pledges do not need further ratification by the U.S. Senate. The new Republican majority will beg to differ.
EPA's Plan to Cut Electric Power Carbon Dioxide emissions: In June, the Obama administration proposed regulations that aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Republicans denounced this as Obama's War on Coal. The election of Shelley Moore Capito as the first Republican senator from West Virginia in nearly 55 years suggests that the war is not going so well for the president; not to mention the re-election of Mitch McConnell from Kentucky.
Environmentalist PAC Spending: Billionaire Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate PAC reportedly spent $74 million attacking Republicans he regards as climate change "deniers." The National Journal succinctly notes, "He Didn't Get Much to Show For It." The New Republic grouses that the voters have made "climate change denier" Sen. James Inhofe "the most powerful senator on the environment."
The day before the mid-term elections, The Hill reported:
Nearly half of voters in the midterm election want the federal government to adopt more policies to fight climate change, according to a new poll.
The Huffington Post/YouGov survey concluded that 49 percent of people likely to vote in Tuesday's election want stricter climate policies. Thirty-five percent opposed climate rules.
Well, maybe. But it's pretty clear that as worried as Americans might be about future climate change, they regard other issues as more pressing.