Can Climate Change Survive the 112th Congress?

09/10/2010 04:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The political climate is more polarized than at any point in recent memory, and hopes for comprehensive climate change legislation during the waning days of the 11n1th Congress now appear dashed.

With Republicans likely to make large inroads into Democratic majorities this November, many climate change advocates are left wondering just where their issue fits into the next legislative session.

Unsurprisingly, Republican pundits and political strategists have avoided embracing climate change legislation should their victories lead to a capture of the House or Senate. As Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund notes, the odds of a Republican-led climate change bill are low enough to leave Democrats scrambling to pass legislation before election day.

Researchers at the NRDC Action Fund have taken the first steps in outlining what climate change might look like in the 112th Congress. It's an index of U.S. House members' positions on climate change and the environment. For extra measure, they include all those running for the House this fall in the index, giving us an interesting look at the priorities of our current and potential legislators.

The picture is far from ideal, but not nearly as negative as climate change advocates may fear. Though New Mexico's Congressional candidate Steve Pearce made headlines for calling climate change science "crap," Iowa Republican State Senator and U.S. House candidate Brad Zahn has been supportive of efforts to explore "nuclear, wind and solar" energies, among other alternatives.

The true test of our political candidates will come after election day, when they are faced with the monumental task of addressing global climate change and its effects on American industry and energy security. Regardless of what candidates from both parties say during campaign season, once in government they will be hard-pressed to deny the job-creation potential of alternative energy development.

This week, Planet Forward takes a look at the chances for compromise climate change legislation in the 112th Congress, with input from national advocate Carol Werner of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute:

In this economy, adding green jobs and infrastructure should appeal across partisan lines.