An investigation by Think Progress, a Web site run by the Center for American Progress, a self-described progressive Washington think tank, found that 50 percent of the more than 100 Republican newcomers to Congress deny the existence of man-made climate change. A vast majority, 86 percent, opposes climate change legislation that increases government costs.
Presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, in an appearance on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in April 2009 said, "The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical."
In his post-election news conference Wednesday, Obama signaled he was giving up on the prospect of comprehensive climate and energy legislation at least until 2012.
"I think there are a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year and so it's doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after," Obama told reporters at the White House.
Urging policymakers not to ignore global warming science, Obama called for bipartisan cooperation on energy policy.
Obama acknowledged that the cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, backed by his administration, "was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end."
The president also pointed to the nation's reserves of natural gas and a revived nuclear power sector as a way of enhancing energy independence.
"We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country. Are we doing everything we can to develop those? ... There's been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases. Is that an area where we can move forward?"
"But let's not wait," he urged.
Post election, the president's focus may center more on energy independence rather than climate change.
A White House official told The Washington Post that energy would continue to be a top priority for the Obama administration but with a different slant.
"I think you'll see in the next few weeks the administration say, 'OK, you may not necessarily agree with the science on climate change, you may not see tackling greenhouse gases as a real priority but what we can all agree on is creating jobs and investing in a clean-energy economy that's going to leave the U.S. more competitive,'" said Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate-change policy.