Election Results Make U.S. Congress Action on Climate Change Even Less Likely

Change Even Less Likely Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, who will lead the Senate, emphasizes coal-mining jobs over warnings from scientists.
Nov 6, 2014 4:45 PM ET

The Great Energy Challenge Energy News

In the green hills and gray hollows of Kentucky's well-mined mountains, the economy of extracting coal from the fuel-rich ground isn't what it once was.

Yet Mitch McConnell, a longtime senator poised to become majority leader of the U.S. Senate in a Congress that will be fully controlled by his Republican Party come January, has found political fortune in those hills. He successfully campaigned for reelection there with warnings about a "war on coal" he accuses Democratic President Barack Obama of waging. This helps explain what the United States won't be doing about global warming in the near future. (Read more about how the midterm election results may intensify the battle over clean energy.)

An alignment of the newly empowered McConnell and fellow Republican leaders—who either openly doubt scientists' findings that human industry has heated the planet, or contend that curbing carbon emissions into the Earth's atmosphere isn't worth the potential cost of lost jobs—is likely to create the most hostile political environment ever for addressing climate change in Washington.

The outcome of Tuesday's elections will provide McConnell's party a solid blockade against Obama, who already has turned to executive action to order new emissions standards for power plants when he could not win enough congressional support even with Democrats running the Senate.

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