What the Unusual Midterm Elections Mean for Climate Action
Energy policy experts say they expect to see that pattern play out again: Republicans are likely to be on the lookout for, and could possibly find, investments made under Mr. Biden’s new law that are open to criticism, even as much of the rest of the law is, like the Obama-era stimulus law, quietly implemented.
They will also home in on the administration’s efforts to create financial regulations that advance climate change policies, including a proposed Labor Department rule that would allow investment companies to consider environmental and social considerations in the composition of pension funds, and a forthcoming rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission that would require financial institutions to disclose the risk that climate change might pose to their bottom lines.
Representative James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, who is poised to become chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is likely to summon Gary Gensler, the chairman of the S.E.C., as well as the executives of Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street, the nation’s three largest asset management firms, for hearings on the idea of imposing climate regulations on the financial sector.
While such hearings would be unlikely to block implementation of the rules, they have the potential to provide rhetorical fodder for the 2024 campaigns.
Bold new climate policies could advance in some states
The Election Day victories of Democratic governors in states like Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Maryland and Massachusetts, where they campaigned on promises to increase the use of clean energy, are expected to help ensure that the new climate law’s money flows smoothly to its intended recipients. In four of those states — Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota — Democrats now hold the governors’ mansions and majorities in both chambers of the state legislatures. These so-called blue trifectas could allow them to advance aggressive new state-level climate laws.
“There was a big green wave in the states across the country,” Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, said. He cited Michigan in particular, where voters re-elected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who wants the state to produce 60 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.