climate policies

Live blog: could the US midterm elections roll back Obama’s climate policies

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By Anders Lorenzen

Americans have been voted in the US midterm elections. Elections that could put the Republicans in charge of both the House and Senate. Polls indicate it is very likely that the Republicans could take the Senate.

What will these elections mean for Obama’s policies on combating climate change, policies that the Republican party has been highly critical off. They have for instance labelled Obama’s regulation on coal power plant as anti business and a job killer.

In total 33 seats in the Senate are being contested, all 435 seats in the House are being contested and there are 38 Gubernatorial elections.

GMT 00:40:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has won in Kentucky. But this was widely accepted. If the Republicans win the Senate he will be promoted to Senate Majority Leader.

McConnell is a climate skeptic and is also known as ‘king coal’ for championing the fossil fuel. Kentucky is one of the largest coal states in the US.

GMT 00:55:
Republican win again and they are gaining from the Democrats as Shelley Moore Capito has beaten Natalie Tennant replacing Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV. Capito is an advocate of the mining industry and in 2013 she introduced Coal Jobs Protection Act and she opposes legislation that would reduce emissions.

GMT 04:30:
It’s now becoming almost certain that the Republicans will take the Senate. They have gained six seats and are just shy of one gain to take control of the Senate.

On top of that they’re also strengthening their gain on the House having gained 8 seats.

GMT 04:40:
The Republicans have take the Senate.

GMT 04:45:
One thing is clear if it was difficult before it will now be near impossible to get any climate related bills through the Congress. Crucially the Republicans will now have the political power to roll back some of Obama’s already enacted climate policies.

GMT 11:45:
As it is very likely that Mitch McConnell will now be the Senate Majority leader it will mean that both chambers in the Congress will be led people skeptical to climate change as the House is led by John Boehner who was very skeptical of a proposed cap and trade bill defeated in Obama’s first term. He also rejects the scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and humans are to blame.

GMT: 12:00
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse recently stated that he would soon propose a carbon tax bill. It remains to be seen giving the loss of the Senate if he will still do it. If he were to do it will have slim chances of passing.

The blog Carbon Brief are reporting that the Democratic loss could have huge implications for a global deal on climate change.

It states that a Republican controlled Congress would be unlikely to ratify a climate deal, this would mean that a loss of US ambition could occur which in return would mean if US don’t show ambitions other countries wont most notably China and India.

Furthermore Republican’s could now launch bills to roll back Obama’s already enacted climate laws. The clean power plan which for the first time in US history will see power plants regulated are hugely unpopular among Republicans.

Another key environmental battleground have been the Keystone XL pipeline which Obama has so far rejected several times. The final decision had been postponed until after the elections, but it is now possible that given the pressure from both chambers Obama could be forced to approve it dealing a huge blow for environmentalists such as Bill McKibben who have been campaigning tirelessly for it to be rejected.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is another government body the Republicans would like to see dismantled. Expect to see Republicans introduce a bill to do so, however this is according to analysts unlikely to pass.

GMT: 17:15:
It seems like the Republicans have also gained several Gubernatorial seats including the state of Maryland where Martin O’Malley were retiring due to him being term limited. Last year he launched an ambitious climate plan for Maryland adopting emissions cuts of 25% by 2020. Later he announced that he might run for the US Presidency in 2016. 

Anthony G. Brown who had acted as Lieutenant Governor under O’Malley failed to beat Republican Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr.

This put into a whole new battleground: changes on in statewide climate policies in states were the Governor have gone from Democrat to Republican is a high possibility.

We are drawing this live blog to a close but we will continue to monitor the situation closely and what impact it will have on environmental policies. The new Congress will take office in January, we will not expect many changes before then.

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