The fate of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections in regards to who would control the House and the Senate is still up in the air. However, the election made many good points about how important climate action is to American citizens.
Democrats won the governorship and both houses in four crucial states that may be poised to pass climate and renewable energy legislation, a historic environmental bond was passed in New York, Senators and House members won races by running on their support for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and a candidate for governor of New York won the election.
According to Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, there was a significant green wave that affected all 50 states, according to a news conference covered by Inside Climate News.
Overall, whether or not the government will expand on the IRA’s historic commitment in climate change and renewable energy depends on which party holds majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans often oppose President Joe Biden’s quest for climate action, and there were worries that a change in party control would weaken the United States’ leadership on the issue ahead of the COP27 UN climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
There will likely be less climate legislation passed and more legal challenges to the Biden administration’s efforts if the results are bad for the Democrats. Before the election, Alice Hill, a climate expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Guardian. The extent to which the United States can implement its climate policy will be in doubt.
According to CNN, the composition of both Houses of Congress is yet unknown. However, the absence of the anticipated red wave gives hope for continued federal action. In a post-election press conference, Biden noted that the Democrats had their best midterm for governors since 1986 and that they had lost fewer seats in the House than in any midterm election during a Democratic president’s first term in the previous four decades.
The vast majority of Americans support the initiatives in my economic agenda, including repairing America’s roads and bridges, bringing down the price of prescription drugs, making a historic investment in addressing the climate crisis, and ensuring that big businesses start paying their fair share of taxes, the president claimed.
The consequences of climate action have been uneven, but overall they are better than expected, according to David Shepheard of consulting firm Baringa Partners, who spoke to New Scientist.
There were a number of climate-related initiatives on the ballot. The biggest victory was the approval of a $4.2 billion environmental bond act in New York, and the biggest defeat was California’s decision to reject a tax on the wealthy in order to finance incentives for electric vehicle use. According to New Scientist, other noteworthy measures included a Florida bill to make it less expensive to flood-proof homes, which failed, and a Rhode Island legislation to boost flood resilience, which passed. According to Ballotpedia, Washington State voters also expressed their disapproval of a new tax on aviation fuel, although this was merely an advisory vote.
House and Senate: Voters favoured candidates who ran on climate change in a number of significant House and Senate races, according to advocacy group Climate Power
Michael Bennet, a senator from Colorado, was re-elected after advocating for renewable energy and environmental protection, while John Fetterman, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, won the Senate seat after denouncing the oil and gas industry for price gouging during the energy crisis and arguing that these companies should be held accountable.
Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), Sharice Davids (KS-3) and Chris Pappas (NH-1) are three Democratic House candidates who prevailed in close elections by highlighting their support for the IRA.
State-level: In Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota, Democrats now control the governor’s office and both legislatures, giving them more power to pass environmental legislation that had previously been thwarted by Republicans.
According to Vox, Minnesota could adopt a bill mandating that 20 percent of cars be electric by 2030, while Michigan could succeed in closing the deteriorating line 5pipeline. According to Inside Climate News, the election of Democratic governors in Massachusetts and Maryland will make it simpler to adopt climate legislation.
Democrats have typically been able to make significant progress on climate change when they are in power, as was the case after the 2018 election in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and New York.
According to Howard Learner, president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, as quoted by Inside Climate News, “I think there’s a really big opportunity.”