THE BLOG
11/01/2010 06:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pre-Election Maneuvering Marked by Fits of Climate Skepticism

The Climate Post Offers a Rundown of the Week in Climate and Energy News.

"Recent comments from top White House and congressional contenders suggest an awkward mix of outright hostility or, at best, ambivalence toward the widespread scientific consensus that humans are responsible for the warming planet," reports Politico.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) blames his loss in the GOP primary to his public assertions that climate change is real. Only two Republican gubernatorial candidates running for election this November believe in action on climate change; both are running in states where their Democratic opponents feel the same.

In one race for the House in Virginia, a Democratic incumbent may lose his seat in part because of his vote for the House cap-and-trade bill.

Colorado's tight race for U.S. Senate is turning into a referendum on the power of views on climate change to sway voters, at least in that state: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is attacking his opponent, Tea Party favorite and Republican Ken Buck, for saying climate change is a "hoax." It's a stance that earned a sharp rebuke from Colorado's climate scientists (the state hosts one of the country's premier centers for the study of climate change, the National Center for Atmospheric Research).

Despite support from some of his potential constituents -- "Climate change doubt is Tea Party article of faith," says the New York Times -- Buck appears to be responding to the criticism by shifting his focus to the economy.

Green groups say they are pouring more money into this electoral season's races than ever, especially in the fight to rescue incumbent Virginia Democratic freshman Tom Perriello, but their spending can't match funds coming from fossil-fuel-related industries. Mother Jones says Alaska write-in candidate (and incumbent) Lisa Murkowski, in a dead heat with Tea Party favorite and Republican nominee Joe Miller, is a beneficiary of those funds.

On Tuesday, Jimmy Carter opined the Tea Party is backed by anti-green "hard-right oligarchs who want to prevent the oil companies and major corporations from having to pay their share of taxes or to comply with environmental laws."

Which Will Characterize the Next Two Years on the Hill: Compromise or Gridlock?

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told students at Utah State University to expect "two years of good old-fashioned gridlock" if the GOP wins the House in November, including, possibly, a shutdown of the federal government. Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) declared there will be "no compromise" with President Barack Obama on major issues.

It's possible energy will be spared the fate of, say, the health care bill, says Darren Samuelsohn of Politico, suggesting incentives for nuclear, clean coal and even renewables might be prime candidates for bipartisan legislation. Lindsey Graham, who once participated in the creation of the senate cap-and-trade bill, says the GOP should work with Obama on energy, perhaps in the incremental approach currently favored by the Obama administration.

The oil and gas industry is already depositing checks into the coffers of candidates likely to head influential House committees after November; the industry remains focused on emissions rules and what it contends are unrealistic expectations about the ascension of renewables.

A "technology-first" approach to tackling carbon emissions is gaining favor among think tanks.

Are We Getting Cap, but No Trade?

Stephen Spruiell at National Review argues emissions regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will make emissions for certain industries expensive without letting them trade for those emissions, as they would have under cap-and-trade. He also argues it may be nearly impossible to prevent the EPA from regulating emissions in this way.

Outlets on the left agree with Spruiell and argue, more or less, "see, we told you this would happen."

The regulations at issue include the EPA's first-ever fuel efficiency standards for trucks and buses, which the trucking industry supports. Canada is issuing its own rules in harmony with U.S. regulations.

Emissions Regulations Will Knock Out up to 7 Percent of U.S. Generating Capacity, Says Study

A huge debate has erupted over a North American Electric Reliability report arguing in a worst-case scenario, the shutdown of coal-fired power plants will, as a result of emissions regulations, significantly impact U.S. generating capacity.

In Texas, farms, cities and environmentalists say the state has insufficient water for more coal-fired plants.

And Now Some Good News...

A four-seater electric Audi with ample trunk space managed to travel 375 miles on a single charge. The non-partisan (even though so far all of its members seem to be partisan) Climate Hawk movement gained momentum.

GM just released its first ad for the Chevy Volt: "This is American, man."

The Climate Post is produced each Thursday by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.