The new more Republican Congress will even be more hostile to President Obamas’s climate policy than the last.
In the lead-up to the 2014 midterms, a lot of green groups were hoping that this might finally be the election in which climate change became a defining issue.
You had billionaire Tom Steyer spending $57 million trying to convince voters to care about global warming. You had the League of Conservation Voters pouring in another $25 million, more than in the previous two elections combined. All the while, it at least seemed possible that recent natural disasters — from Hurricane Sandy two years ago to the ongoing drought in the West — might push climate issues to the fore.
Ultimately, none of it mattered much. The outlook for climate policy looks just as dismal after these midterms as it did before — at least in Washington, DC.
True, there were small shifts in attitude here and there. Some Republicans are now acting like it’s no longer viable to deny the basic facts of global warming. Instead, they dodge and say “I’m not a scientist.” And, as Rebecca Leber reports in The New Republic, green candidates are getting better at playing offense. In Michigan, Democrat Gary Peters won his Senate race handily after making climate a top issue.
But there are few signs that the broader landscape is changing significantly. Global warming remains a low-priority issue in American politics — in a Pew poll, it ranked a lowly 8th (out of 11) on the list of issues voters care about. The newest, more Republican Congress will, if anything, be even more hostile to climate policy than the last one. And those things will matter a lot.