What's in the future for climate change legislation

Wind turbines generate electricity in England.


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama called Tuesday's GOP
sweep back into House control a "shellacking." We wondered what that means for climate change legislation that's been floundering in Congress for some time.

Marketplace Sustainability reporter Adrienne Hill is with us now to talk about it. Good morning Adrienne.

ADRIENE HILL: Good morning Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So tell me, what will all these Republican newcomers mean for big action on climate change?

HILL: Well probably not as much as they'd like.

CHIOTAKIS: What do you mean by that?

HILL: Let's be clear: big climate change legislation was already dead. The Dems controlling both Houses couldn't get it through; they tried and failed. So sure, any sort of sweeping climate legislation is less likely now, but that's less likely than dead.

CHIOTAKIS: So Adriene, the Obama Administration's EPA is working on greenhouse gas regulations. What can the GOP-controlled House do about those?

HILL: They'll certainly try to do all they can. They might try to kill them, they probably will try to kill them or at least slow them down. The expectation is the House is going to call lots of hearings, spend a lot of time trying to block these guidelines. But right now in the Senate, Republicans and their Democratic allies have as many as 57 votes to stop EPA regulations. That's according to the New York Times. It's not enough to overcome a liberal filibuster, but it could change.

CHIOTAKIS: And they're working together, right -- bi-partisanship?

HILL: Yeah, I guess so. The president did also express some willingness to compromise on energy in his press conference on Wednesday, so we'll see. There's some concern that federal funding for clean energy tech and research could take a hit, that Republicans' appetite to cut the budget combined with many of their skeptical opinions on climate change could really mean less money for scientific research. Also fossil fuel interests like big oil spent a lot of money getting some of these Republicans elected, so they're going to be lobbying hard.

CHIOTAKIS: Are there any bright spots, Adriene, for proponents of climate change after this election?

HILL: Absolutely. Hearing California voters decisively voted against Prop. 23, which means that California's clean air laws are going to stay in place. A lot of clean energy advocates are pointing to that as a really significant victory. And it's one sign that the meaningful battle over climate action and clean energy is moving away from the Hill and to the state and local level.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Sustainability reporter Adriene Hill. Adriene, thanks.

HILL: Thank you Steve.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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Isn't it fascinating how the Republicans harp on not leaving our grandchildren a legacy of debt but they don't care how polluted and messed up their environment is?

Regarding Adrienne Hill's comment about "The Dems controlling both Houses couldn't get it through; they tried and failed."

I remember a comment story in the New Yorker about the bipartisan attempt by John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman (tri-partisan?) to get Harry Reid to out it on the agenda, but he dodged by saying that he wanted to pass immigration first. There was no immigration bill at the time. I would call that a non-try, but still a failure.

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