U.S. energy debate could shift with power on Capitol Hill

U.S. elections may decide future of energy policies.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Nov. 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Results for Tuesday's U.S. elections may favor a pro-energy platform, though advocates fear the results will move the debate away from prevailing climate winds.

"With zero precincts reporting, we can confidently project American energy is a landslide winner in the 2014 midterm elections," Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer at the American Petroleum Institute, wrote in a Monday column for online political news magazine The Hill.

With key states changing from blue to purple during the second term of the Obama administration, Republicans are widely expected to emerge from the Tuesday elections with control over both the House and Senate.

Republicans, and a few Democrats, have pressed the White House to take advantage of oil and gas trends that advocates like Gerard see as positioning the United States as an "energy superpower."

The elections come on the heels of a U.N. report that blames fossil fuels for the steady increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning publication on clean energy debates, reports a Republican victory could "spell trouble" for a low-carbon agenda.

Races in nine states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina -- will be key to determining which party holds the Senate

Turnout may sway the vote either way, with rain forecast for the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and states along the Mississippi River. Low turnout favors Democrats, though the final tally could hinge on potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia.

For Louisiana, it's a tight race for incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat with strong ties to the oil industry. A Republican loss there may be a win, given her alignment with policies embraced by the API and others in the pro-oil camp.

Alaska also plays big in the energy debate, where big money is betting on what the industry sees as an "anti-fossil fuel" candidate, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat.

And then there's Keystone XL. The pro-energy platform in the Republican party centers on the controversial pipeline from Canada. Before the midterms, Secretary of State John Kerry told his Canadian counterparts a decision was expected sooner than later.

With the poles expected to move, so too should the energy narrative in the United States.

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