Republican win does not kill clean energy plans, industry says

This year’s midterm elections go for the Republican Party after a wave of big victories swept them back into power in the House of Representatives, possibly placing President Barack Obama’s plans for comprehensive climate legislation out in the cold.

The Republicans managed to win 239 House seats against the Democratic Party’s 187, as of this writing. However, the Democrats still retained a slim majority in the Senate, with 53 against 46 – a turn-out which is still, however, expected to shave the Democratic advantage in Congress overall. Similar losses also ensued in the gubernatorial race, with Democrats holding only 17 seats against the Republican’s 29.

If the map of Mr. Obama’s victories in 2008 were compared with where fellow Democrats lost last Tuesday, it suggests his landslide approval has virtually evaporated.

With Republicans now in control of the House, the question is whether progress in the country’s anticipated climate change-related bills will grind to a complete halt.

This year’s midterm elections go for the Republican Party after a wave of big victories swept them back into power in the House of Representatives, possibly placing President Barack Obama’s plans for comprehensive climate legislation out in the cold.

The Republicans managed to win 239 House seats against the Democratic Party’s 187, as of this writing. However, the Democrats still retained a slim majority in the Senate, with 53 against 46 – a turn-out which is still, however, expected to shave the Democratic advantage in Congress overall. Similar losses also ensued in the gubernatorial race, with Democrats holding only 17 seats against the Republican’s 29.

If the map of Mr. Obama’s victories in 2008 were compared with where fellow Democrats lost last Tuesday, it suggests his landslide approval has virtually evaporated.

With Republicans now in control of the House, the question is whether progress in the country’s anticipated climate change-related bills will grind to a complete halt.

Senate Republicans had been citing concerns ranging from the negative economic impacts of climate measures to the soundness of climate change science itself.

Describing the possible outcome of the landside win of the Republicans in a press conference at the White House, Mr. Obama said: “It’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year, or next year, or the year after.”

But the president insisted the United States could still achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions without one of the hotly contested climate measures being proposed – cap-and-trade.

«Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” Mr. Obama said. “It was a means, not an end.»

Mr. Obama is now calling for cooperation with Republicans to develop the United States’ massive natural gas reserves, nuclear power and electric and clean-burning cars.

‘Not a partisan issue’

The renewable energy sector, meanwhile, believes that growth has never been a partisan issue.

For the industry, getting Republicans and Democrats to work together to advance energy policy is seen as the toughest task, because the industry’s importance as a source of revenue and jobs appeal to both despite their different views on climate change.

This, for them, illustrates a possible common ground where energy – and climate change – policies could grow.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said this legislative log jam has existed for several years but acceptance of the economic sense of the solar industry, one of the oldest and most mature clean energy sectors, has been high.

“Our industry doubled this last year in size and now has almost 100,000 people employed in the United States,” he said. “We’re a real economic force and that resonates with both Democrats and Republicans.”

The American Wind Energy Association also reported similar growth in its industry. Wind reportedly accounted for 39 percent of new installed electric capacity versus 13 percent from coal in the first nine months of 2009.

But this year, wind generated only 14 percent of new installed capacity, compared with 39 percent from coal in the same period. They said the lack of market-based policies is to blame.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association which represents the United States ethanol industry, said there were strong ethanol proponents from the Democratic Party that lost in the midterm elections but were replaced with equally strong advocates from the Republican side.

“What is clear to me is that this election was about the economy and jobs,” Mr. Dinneen said.

“More than half of the electorate went to the polls believing the economy was the single most important issue. No other issue – the environment, the deficit, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – polled in double digits.”

And yet, one of the world’s most ambitious laws for combating global warming survived the midterm polls as California overwhelmingly voted no to Proposition 23, a measure that its opponents would have frozen the state’s climate law.

The landmark 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, which bats for more renewable energy and a cap-and-trade scheme, was signed by outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – a staunch renewable energy supporter although coming from the Republican camp.

 

EcoSeed

ARTÍCULOS RELACIONADOS
- publicidad -

Otras noticias de interés