Republicans like Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) plan to go on the attack against President Obama’s climate action plan, which they have dubbed a “war on coal.”
They’re backed by conservative groups like the American Energy Alliance, which is already airing campaign ads attacking Democrats such as Rep. Nick Rahall (W.Va.) for supporting a carbon tax.
Green activists led by Tom Steyer plan to return fire.
The billionaire former hedge fund manager, who has poured his money into environmental causes, said Thursday that his New Year’s resolution is to make climate change a voter concern in 2014.
“This election year, more than ever, we must hold our leaders responsible for the role they play in the fight against climate change,” he wrote on NextGen Climate’s website, keystonetruth.com.
Energy and environmental issues are expected to take a front seat in dozens of races across the country, from coal country in West Virginia and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast, where Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) faces a tough reelection race just as she prepares to take up the chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.
Noise surrounding crude oil exports and offshore oil development from coastal states is already being made, and Landrieu may push policy that evens the playing ground for coastal states when it comes to collecting federal dollars tied to energy development.
In Alaska, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) faces a difficult reelection battle in a major energy state. On Thursday, he distanced himself from Obama's climate agenda, pushing for more oil exploration.
Open-seat Senate races in South Dakota and Montana are also places where energy will be a major theme as the natural-gas boom becomes a prominent debate in 2014.
Here's the political reality in states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana and the Dakotas: you want to get elected as a Democrat? Better get in line with Big Energy or you'll lose to a Republican who will. So yes, Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, and yes, Alison Lundergan Grimes are all going to have to play nice with the oil and coal boys or lose to Republicans.
The EPA can still do things at the federal level...for now. Enough Republicans in the Senate however and that may go away too. I hate it, I think climate change is a real problem, and that future generations are going to really, really loathe us over our failure to act. The damage will be insane.
But the political reality of now is a factor, like it or not.