Early polls indicate that the GOP will likely win the U.S. House of Representatives and possibly the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections. Here is how that win could play out with U.S. energy policy.
- Energy policy is a major area of disagreement between the Republican and Democratic parties.
- The Republican Party platform is focused on energy independence and has taken a pro-oil, pro-fracking, and pro-coal stance as part of its “All-of-the-Above” energy policy—bolstering both fossil fuels, coal, and domestic alternative-energy production.
- The Democratic Party follows a more environmental focus and is committed to maintaining net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal or sooner, investing in net-zero businesses, and totally revamping the U.S. economy to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accords.
- The Democrats are generally opposed to increasing oil-drilling permits and the expansion of oil pipelines. President Joe Biden encourages an end to oil and gas.
Why it’s Important
Most Americans view energy prices as a key issue in their lives and in an election. And nearly 65% of Americans saying that climate change is somewhat or very important to them as an issue. President Joe Biden has pushed several major climate initiatives this year including the curiously named Inflation Reduction Act, but it is unclear how they will shake out following the midterm election—with the possible incumbent House Speaker threatening to reverse the policy.
In addition, gas prices are historically high and there are major shortages across Europe, due to war in Ukraine and other factors.
There are notable areas of bipartisan cooperation though—one being forestry. The Hill reports that numerous bi-partisan efforts have been made to plant more trees and protect natural parks. Similarly, both sides have conceded that climate change is an issue and must be addressed.
“While the partisan distribution of these opinions is still uneven, the direction of change is obvious. Both parties are going green,” reports Forbes.
Both sides substantially diverge though on the issue of fossil fuels.
As we previously reported, the GOP’s overall focus in the midterms has been economic issues. Axios reports that three of the most serious concerns for voters are jobs, taxes, and wages. Energy independence is a major area of focus for the GOP though as lowering gas prices is a winning issue—which they hope to do by opening new gas pipelines from Canada and permitting new drilling operations.
“Not long ago, America was the largest energy producer in the world, and gas was affordable. The Biden Administration then halted energy projects, shut down pipeline construction, and took every step to discourage the production of American energy resources,” says House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
While the Democrats and President Biden are publicly aiming to stifle oil production, the GOP claims that the U.S.’s regulations surrounding fossil fuels make our burning less environmentally harmful than other major countries. These policies will help make the U.S. less reliant on hostile countries like Russia and China.
“The GOP wants to cast itself as a champion of domestic energy production, and Republicans have signaled they will do everything they can to contrast their stances with Democrats,” says The Hill.
Congressional Republicans have also committed to furthering and bolstering green energy sources, although critics are afraid that these policies will fall away if a Republican President wins in 2024—as it did during the Trump administration.
“One of the objectives here is being very clear to the American public that we recognize there’s an energy crisis and we recognize the causes of this energy crisis,” says Louisiana Representative Garret Graves.
Advocates for green energy have publically chided the GOP’s energy stance as corrupt and environmentally destructive.
“This would be laughable as a climate agenda in 2022 except there is absolutely nothing funny about the climate crisis or Congressional Republicans’ obstruction of desperately needed solutions in the name of lining the pockets of their corporate allies and big oil polluters who fund their campaigns,” says League of Conservation Voters SVP Tiernan Sittenfeld.
The Biden administration has already made substantial efforts through his Build Back Better Initiative and the Inflation Reduction Act to invest billions of dollars into renewable energy, electric vehicles, and pollution reduction. Many Democrats believe that this isn’t enough. The DNC Climate Council is pushing for an even more aggressive push of 100% renewable energy by 2030, committing to as much as $16 trillion in climate expenditures.
“Now is the moment to end fossil fuel extraction and transition to clean, renewable energy—wind, solar, and geothermal. The collapse of the global demand for fossil fuels and of the consistently unprofitable fracking industry presents an unprecedented opportunity to end the pollution, injustice, and global heating driven by our fossil fuel reliance,” says the DNC Climate Council.
These policies aren’t unanimously approved by its base though. As we previously reported, Biden’s comments about oil and coal production earned him negative attention from members of his own party who live in coal-reliant states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“President Joe Biden’s recent statements denouncing coal drew fire from Senator Joe Manchin and several western Democrats, upsetting the calculus for many elections out west. In midterms, Biden may have forgotten, all voters have a say, not just the activist base,” says Forbes.
“For their part, moderate Democrats realized that convincing more people to accept green solutions required an embrace of market forces and a different toolbox of rhetorical tools.”