2015 is shaping up to be a decisive year for U.S. energy and climate policy, according to a recent Christian Science Monitor article, “What are Republicans going to do about climate change.” While the 2016 presidential election is still nearly two years away, the recent debate on the Keystone XL pipeline bill is forcing Republicans to go on the record about climate change.
Democrats, on Wednesday, used the amendment process to force Republicans to put their views on climate change on the record, which could have consequences in the 2016 presidential race.
“One amendment to the Keystone bill – stating climate change is real and not a hoax – garnered an astonishing 98-to-1 majority Wednesday, depriving Democrats of the ‘gotcha’ moment they hoped would paint Republicans as anti-science,” reporter David Gilmour wrote. “Still, only five Republicans supported a separate amendment saying human activity ‘significantly’ contributes to climate change.”
While Republicans seem to lack a coherent climate change stance, Obama’s Clean Power Plan gives Democrats an established platform to fall back on. Professor Barry Rabe provided analysis on what advantage this may give Democrats going into new year’s elections.
“I think [the Clean Power Plan] makes it easier for a Democrat going into 2016, because they don’t have to resurrect something like a cap-and-trade bill,” Rabe is quoted as saying. “This takes a lot of pressure off someone like Hillary Clinton, and may put pressure on Republican candidates … .” If Republicans who acknowledge human-generated climate change reject the Clean Power Plan, they’ll have to come up with another solution, Rabe says.
The Clean Power Plan aims to slash carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
In the article, Gilmour also cited a CLOSUP survey released this month that found that 73 percent of Americans support significant greenhouse emissions reductions from new power plants.
Barry Rabe is a professor of public policy at the Ford School of Public Policy, and director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). He holds additional appointments in the Department of Political Science, the Program in the Environment, and the School of Natural Resources and Environment at U-M. Rabe is also non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His current research focuses on climate, energy, and environmental policy.