The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and large gains in the Senate will make it harder, or impossible, for President Obama to win legislation imposing mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. That's especially true if next year's Senate is populated by more skeptics of human-caused global warming. Still, the President has the power to shape climate change policy, and Republican bills that stray too far from Obama's energy and environment goals are likely to be vetoed.
For now, Senator John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is pushing for a vote during the lame duck session of Congress that would suspend for two years Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases, including those emitted from burning coal. Rockefeller says a two-year pause would give the coal industry time to perfect clean technologies.
If the bill is put off until next year, observers feel Rockefeller will have even more support, especially from Republicans who would likely try to stop EPA regulation of carbon by explicitly banning the use of EPA funds to administer such regulations.