Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midterm 2014: Fossil Fuels Win and Climate Loses

The US midterm results are in and fossil fuels have won big while efforts to combat climate change are dealt a serious blow. With 52 seats, Republicans have won the Senate and they now control both chambers of Congress. This will make passing President Obama's legislative agenda, which was already very difficult, nearly impossible. Here are 10 likely energy and climate consequences of Republicans advances in the 2014 midterms:

Pro-fossil fuel initiatives we can expect from Republicans:
  • approval of the Keystone XL pipeline
  • reject an end to tax breaks for oil and gas companies
  • expand federal leases for fracking
  • end to the crude oil export ban
  • expand coal development
Anti-climate initiatives we can expect from Republicans
  • restrict the administration's ability to regulate greenhouse gases
  • kill any hope for a binding global climate treaty
  • oppose a non-binding global climate agreement
  • end the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy
  • curtail other renewable energy incentives

Democrats can still resist Republican's pro-fossil fuel and anti-climate legislation. Republican Senators do not have a super majority of 60 seats, so Democrats can exert some control through a filibuster. Unlimited discussion and debate is permitted in the Senate and no vote can be held on a bill until all debate is closed or 60 Senators vote for cloture.

The President can always veto any bill coming from the Republican controlled Congress. In addition to his veto powers, the only recourse left to the President are his executive actions.

Optimistically, the President may be able to gain some bipartisan support for legislation related to trade agreements, infrastructure or perhaps even tax reform, but he will not be able to pass a bill on climate, the environment or clean energy.

Republican control over the nation's purse strings gives their obstructionism more teeth. However to shrug off the well earned perception that they are the party of "no" and to try to set up a run for the Presidency in 2016, the GOP may put legislation in front of the President that he will have to veto.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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