Biden’s Bold Climate Plans Could Be Thwarted in GOP-Run Senate
(Bloomberg) -- Even if Joe Biden wins the White House, his ambitious climate agenda could be thwarted by a Senate that is increasingly likely to remain in Republican control.
“An emboldened, moderate Senate is poised to stymie a progressive agenda at every turn,” observed Washington consultant Gloria Dittus. “A legislative Green New Deal has been derailed.”
Biden couldn’t count on help from a Republican-controlled Senate to realize his climate vision, which lays out epic changes in the U.S. energy mix, anchored by promises to install renewable energy infrastructure, get cleaner cars on the road and create zero-emission mass transit systems. Instead, Biden would have to court the chamber’s moderates, including Joe Manchin, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, in seeking to pass more narrowly tailored bills.
“The shift toward lower-carbon energy is not over, but it’s going to be on a more realistic timeline absent a blue wave,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and chief executive of drilling services company Canary Drilling Services LLC. “Biden is not going to be able to ram through a costly, zero-carbon mandate through a Republican Senate. Obama couldn’t do it with control of both the House and the Senate.”
Without allies to push his environmental agenda through Capitol Hill, Biden would be even more reliant on federal agencies to adapt decades-old laws to meet emerging challenges such as climate change. But creative agency regulations could face tough scrutiny in federal courts reshaped with the addition of more than 200 Trump-appointed judges.
“Given the fact that Biden’s probably not going to have a compliant Senate to work with don’t look for him getting policy done through a reconciliation bill or even an ambitious climate bill,” said Eric Washburn, an environmental policy consultant and former adviser to top Senate Democrats. “He’s going to have to do what he is going to do to promote his clean energy and climate agenda administratively, and that’s going to put a lot of pressure on EPA.”
Climate activists were already grappling with the prospect Wednesday. Sam Ricketts, co-founder of the Evergreen Action climate advocacy group, observed that a Senate controlled by Republican Mitch McConnell could be a roadblock to a “bold Democratic climate agenda.” “While a Biden White House can do a lot with existing authorities,” Ricketts said on Twitter, “that vision in full will require legislation too.”
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