Energy & Environment — How key members of Congress fared in the midterms
Republicans are favored to win a narrow majority in the House, while the Senate is up for grabs as votes are still counted from Tuesday’s midterm election. We’ll take a look at how key members of Congress’ energy and natural resources panels did.
Meanwhile, John Kerry proposes new carbon markets for developing countries, and New York and California vote on environmental ballot measures.
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Energy, Natural Resources members in tight races
Although Democrats overperformed in what some pundits and prognosticators expected to be a GOP wave election, results in a number of close battles — including who will control the Senate — remained unclear as of Wednesday evening.
Energy and climate issues figured heavily into midterm campaigns, with candidates frequently emphasizing issues like the cost of energy and gas on the trail and Republicans hoping to make the elections a referendum on President Biden.
At press time, here’s the status of several key races:
- Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), member of both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works committees, was leading opponent Blake Masters in a race that has not yet been called.
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a member of the Energy Committee, was trailing Republican opponent Adam Laxalt.
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Energy Committee, defeated Independent opponent Evan McMullin.
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), member and former chair of the Energy Committee, was trailing Republican opponent Kelly Tshibaka.
- Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee was projected to lose to GOP opponent Eli Crane, per NBC News and ABC News.
- Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee’s oversight subcommittee, was leading GOP opponent Scott Baugh.
- Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.), ranking member of the Oversight Committee’s Environment subcommittee, was trailing Democratic opponent Gabriel Vasquez.
- Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a Natural Resources member, was trailing Democratic opponent Adam Frisch.
- Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), a Natural Resources and Climate Crisis Committee member, was leading Republican opponent Brian Maryott.
- Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was leading Republican opponent Matt Larkin.
Kerry proposes public-private carbon market
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Wednesday formally announced the Energy Transition Accelerator, a public-private partnership aimed at developing carbon markets to transition developing nations off fossil fuels with private funds.
In remarks at the COP27 United Nations climate summit in Egypt, Kerry said the proposed initiative will involve private capital partnering with governments and NGOs to aid the transition to renewable energy sources. The former secretary of State described conversations with world leaders in which they identified money as the number one obstacle to the transition.
- “Wealthy countries are stepping up their support. Our administration is working as hard as we can to deliver on President Biden’s pledge to quadruple U.S. climate support by 2024. We are absolutely committed to doing our part,” Kerry said in remarks Wednesday. “But no government in the world has enough money to get this job done. We will only succeed with a massive infusion of private capital.”
- Kerry, who has frequently spoken of the need for private-sector cooperation on decarbonization goals, said the initiative could start a snowball effect by convincing other sources of money of the opportunities presented by transition.
- Another possibility, he said, is allowing companies involved in the program to use a limited amount of credits toward their own short-term emission-reductions targets. “And companies would acquire additional credits to go above and beyond their targets – achieving a greater overall level of emission reduction,” he added.
Not everybody’s pleased: Carbon credits have been a controversial concept among environmentalists and policymakers, with some dismissing them as “greenwashing” that allows companies to mislead about their environmental impact. In a statement Wednesday morning, the international NGO ActionAid excoriated the announcement as an “exhausting … talking point.”
California voters nix tax promoting electric vehicles
California voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have imposed an additional tax on the rich in order to fund electric vehicle subsidies and charging stations.
- Funds from the ballot initiative, known as Proposition 30, also would have gone to support wildfire response in the Golden State.
- Under the proposal, residents who make more than $2 million each year would pay an additional 1.75 percent personal income tax on earnings above $2 million.
With 41 percent of the votes counted, votes for the measure trailed those against it, standing at 59 percent to 41 percent as of Wednesday morning.
According to the state’s official voter guide, if it had passed, the measure was expected to bring in $3.5 billion to $5 billion for the state in order to support the electric vehicle and wildfire response and prevention programs.
New Yorkers vote for $4B in environmental bonds
Voters in New York approved a ballot measure Tuesday that would issue more than $4 billion in bonds for climate and environmental infrastructure in the state.
The measure, the largest bond issue in the Empire State’s history, passed with just more than 59 percent of the vote, according to data from the New York State Board of Elections. Less than 29 percent of voters opposed it, with 12.1 percent leaving the question unanswered.
The measure — the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act — includes $4.2 billion for environmental projects, including about $1.5 billion for infrastructure such as air and water pollution mitigation, $1.1 billion on flood resilience, $650 million on land conservation and $650 million for wastewater and sewage.
Specific provisions in the measure also include $500 million to electrify the state’s school buses by 2035 and another $500 million for offshore wind projects.
Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) first proposed the bond issue in 2020 but had it pulled that summer, saying the COVID-19 pandemic made it financially untenable.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a budget including the issuance of the debt in April of this year.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Phillips 66 is cutting 1,100 jobs — and returning billions of dollars to shareholders (CNN)
- China will support climate damage mechanism but not with cash (Reuters)
- The midterm results on climate change in state races (Vox)
- OPEC+ May Need to Rethink Decision to Slash Oil Output, IEA Says (Bloomberg)
- Jordan Is Running Out of Water, a Grim Glimpse of the Future (The New York Times)
- Top environment committee Democrat tests positive for COVID-19, cancels trip to climate summit
- Satellites scrutinize site-specific emissions in effort backed by Al Gore
- UN: CO2 emissions from buildings, construction hit new high
🤔 Lighter click: A Johnocracy, if you will
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.