WASHINGTON – Some argue that Tuesday’s midterm elections – with Republicans regaining control of the U.S. Senate – signals a turnaround for America’s energy future.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, for one, expressed its optimism.
“Yesterday, the American people chose to elect a Senate that can stand up to the President and make him work to find compromise rather than governing by executive order without regard for others opinion. I am optimistic this sea change will bring about much needed clarity on the real issues facing our country and put energy policy making back in the hands of Congress where it belongs,” Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE, said Wednesday.
“Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and in state capitols across America, are prepared to take on the (Obama) Administration’s misguided, overreaching regulatory climate crusade and fight to ensure that American’s real priorities are put front and center of the political agenda.”
ACCCE promoted voter participation and urged Americans to learn where their candidates stood on energy issues in the weeks leading up to the election.
In West Virginia, Republicans swept all three U.S. House of Representatives seats and a U.S. Senate seat.
Incumbent Republican David McKinley cruised to an easy victory in the 1st District race over Democrat Glen Gainer, the state’s auditor, to represent the northern part of the state.
In the 2nd District race, Republican Alex Mooney squeezed by Democrat Nick Casey in the only close race of the three.
And in the 3rd District, representing the southern part of the state, state Senator Evan Jenkins, a Republican, upset incumbent Nick Rahall by a wide margin.
And, for the first time since the 1950s, the state will have a Republican in the Senate.
Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was named the winner of the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller moments after polls closed Tuesday. She defeated Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, and some third-party candidates.
She also is the first woman to represent West Virginia in the Senate.
Both Capito and Jenkins’ campaigns constantly linked their opponents to President Barack Obama’s “anti-coal” policies.
West Virginia receives 95 percent of its electricity from coal.
In an analysis released last month, consulting firm National Economic Research Associates Inc. projects “significant negative economic impacts” to the Mountain State under a proposed plan by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants.
Under the EPA’s proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.
New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.
In its proposal, the EPA has tasked West Virginia with a carbon emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2030.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said last year he is “very concerned” about the EPA’s carbon reduction plan, calling it “reckless.”
“I’ve seen little from the White House or the EPA on what people in Boone, Marshall, Logan, Marion, Mingo, Monongalia and other counties around the state should do when their local coal mines have layoffs,” the attorney general said at the time.
“West Virginia cannot idly sit by and allow politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to cripple our economy.”
Electricity rates could face a peak-year increase of 14 percent in West Virginia, NERA found.