NBC News projects Republicans will easily take the House of Representatives

Serious climate action or a significant increase in federal clean energy funding all but dead for foreseeable future

It looks like the new Speaker of the House will be John Boehner, the man who said, “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

Ironically very few races were decided by climate and clean energy outside of California, which embraced the strongest possible action to reduce pollution.  And poll after poll makes clear the public as a whole supports strong action.  And the overwhelming scientific understanding that  unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases poses a grave threat to the health and well-being of our children and countless future generations grow stronger every year (see “An illustrated guide to the latest climate science“).  But the economy and the President’s dreadful messaging, coupled with a staggering amount of money from Big Oil and the corporate polluters, swept in countless pro-pollution conservatives in the House.

There will be no post-partisan energy policy (see “Brookings embraces American Enterprise Institute’s climate head fake along with right-wing energy myths“).  I was at the US Department of Energy the last time the right-wing seized control of the House, under Newt Gingrich.

We had started a process of increasing the budget for clean energy over the past two years, much as Obama and Chu have — and immediately Gingrich and his pro-pollution extremists tried to shut down the department and zero out all applied energy R&D.  We fought back as hard as we could, and basically held them to a draw.

My 1996 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly “” published when I was principal deputy assistant secretary of energy (coauthored with the Deputy Secretary) “” “MidEast Oil Forever?” Drifting Toward Disaster was subtitled:

Congressional budget-cutters threaten to end America’s leadership in new energy technologies that could generate hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs, reduce damage to the environment, and limit our costly, dangerous dependency on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region.

The right-wing anti-science extremists don’t care about American leadership in the biggest job creating sector of the economy, they don’t care about reducing damage to the environment, and while they give lip service to reducing oil dependency, they are bought and paid for by Big Oil, which has no interest whatsoever in ending our addiction to oil from any source.

Beyond the assault on clean energy funding, you can expect an effort to block EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and subpoenas/hearings aimed at harassing climate scientists (see Mann slams Cuccinelli, Sensenbrenner, Issa: “My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science”).

And you can expect more polluter-funded disinformation across-the-board (see “GOP group staffed by Marc Morano pays Fox affiliates to influence election with anti-Obama hate speech“).

Given how grim things are for climate hawks, perhaps it’s time for an inspirational video:

As Captain Picard says, “A line must be drawn here. This far — and no further!”

The top image is COPYRIGHT 2010-3010 (c) Daniel Halevi Bloom, creative commons.

This post has been updated.

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39 Responses to NBC News projects Republicans will easily take the House of Representatives

  1. Mike says:

    There is the “lame duck” session. The Senate could still pass a Senate version of HR2454. Unlikely, but worth a shot. Some Republicans who lost to Tea Party types having nothing to lose.

  2. cr says:

    Mike, that would mean there were still Republicans with honor, I don’t think they exist anymore.

    There was a woman interviewed in the NYT about why she voted straight Republican, after having voted Dem in 2008 “It can’t get any worse.”

    Don’t worry, of course it can! And we’re about to find out. And the ‘average’ US voter will still be confused as to why the US government doesn’t work after they keep voting people whose goal is to make sure it doesn’t work.

    (goes to find desk to bang head on).

  3. Walter Meier says:

    The average person’s engagement in politics consists of: “Things are bad, A is in power, so I’ll vote for B.” The thought that B might be far worse never enters their mind.

    This kind of mindset has only been possible because of the thorough and very deliberate dismantling of our educational system which once used to teach critical thinking skills, but today only consists of the ability to fill in circles next to A, B, C, or D.

    I’m sad.

  4. David B. Benson says:

    No joy in Mudville.

  5. Deborah Stark says:

    …..It looks like the new Speaker of the House will be John Boehner…..

    Oh god.

    Well, OK then.

    It looks like we’re going to have to endure quite a rough ride for the foreseeable future.

    But I’ll tell you what, if the extraordinary caliber of this blog community is any indication, we will get through this period with flying colors, and we will help our fellow human beings to do the same.

    The story is telling itself. I mean, we can SEE that.

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    I’m ready. Let’s talk.

  7. Muoncounter says:

    Michelle ‘wacky’ Bachmann just told MSNBC ‘no new energy taxes.’

    I see a bad moon rising. — J Fogerty, 1969.

  8. Dan B says:

    Which scenario is (are?) likely:

    Climate Scientists treated to “Joe McCarthy” commie accusations.

    Clean energy sector stimulus stopped.

    Clean energy investors’ funding goes increasingly outside US.

    US economy stalls due to “tightened belt”.

    US unemployment tops 11% in 2012, GOBP/Koch blames Obama.

    DOD budget increased to “protect Homeland” from climate refugees and riots.

    Offshore drilling exploration permits expanded 50%.

    Any others?

  9. Ben D says:

    But surely the outcome is of no surprise, everyone knew the result ahead of time from the polls so why the lamentations?

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    That immense shearing sound you hear in the background, much like Yankee Stadium full of people repeatedly ripping pieces of Velcro apart, is America being forcefully separated just a bit more from reality.

    The key word for the next two years will be “gridlock”. And of course the useless morons in the media won’t point out how the Republicans are doing everything in their power — exactly as they’ve already said publicly they would — to stop Dems and especially Obama from having any victory whatsoever.

    More to the point, we’ll precious little recognition of the role unlimited, undisclosed corporate campaign spending had to play in this election. Thanks to the one insanely bad Supreme Court decision that let this travesty of financing happen, we could be on our way to a series of very bad election days in which deniers with law degrees keep getting elected to Congress in ever greater numbers.

    At least we can count on the Free Market to fix our climate and energy problems, right? Hello…? Is this thing on???

  11. homunq says:

    Where can I look at returns for prop 23? The CA SOS site is worse than I remember it being in 2000. Back then, load times were minutes, but at least they had the numbers; now, it’s nice and fast, but there are no numbers I can find.

  12. jeff fiedler says:

    homunq. The nytimes website election results for each state include major ballot initiatives. 23 is there.

  13. MADurstewitz says:

    They created a desolation and called it; Profit.

  14. At least it looks like the Western Climate Initiative will be preserved, so we can only hope that states and provinces carry the ball and that, combined with EPA regulatory efforts, there will be some action beyond that line that must be drawn.

    Just listening to Boehner now… depressing…

  15. Oh Christ, now Boehner is crying while talking about the elusive American dream.

  16. Jeff Huggins says:

    Yikes: I’m just listening, now, to John Boehner. We face a very, very difficult next two years. Time to think creatively. Yikes.

  17. Steve Bloom says:

    homunq, 23 is badly burnt toast. I’m guessing based on a few of the county totals I’ve looked at that it goes down 70-30, with its evil twin 26 losing 55-45. The initial results are actually somewhat more favorable to them, but I expect the regular vote to trend farther into negative territory. is a good place for detailed info on all CA results.

    Oh yes: eMeg and iCarly have been sent back to their yachts.

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    The House of Orange…

  19. Leif says:

    Well if we can keep from going Bat **it crazy in the next two years I would say that Obama and the Democrats will look very good the next four. We have to stick to our principles and continue to accentuate the facts. The Pollution-for-Profits Party fresh from ego victories will surely make tactical errors. Hopefully the stung Democrats will have learned a thing or two and pounce like they meant it. President Obama is smart and sharpened his skills in Chicago, backed into a corner perhaps his early experience will resurface.

    This election and the coming years is not about donkeys and elephants. The future is about Humanities’ continued survival or Pollution-for-Profits. In two years, perhaps sooner, even the rabid tin hats will realize that. That will be when principals will count.

    In my view the Democrats are taking a beating because they were/are fighting the wrong opponent. They were fighting Republicans when the real enemy is Capitalism and Corporate greed. For the most part Democrats bow to the same whip, which makes them inefectual when push comes to shove. That leaves it in the hands of the people.

    Fear Corporate Greed. Fight or Flight… But nowhere to run. We are in it for the last inning. Don’t loose your sense of humor. I was about to say no one is dying yet but realize that is not true. Millions are and all too soon tens of millions will be dying each year.

    Can we STOP?

    Hopefully Earth’s life support systems can endure another two years of our folly.

  20. Jim Groom says:

    From listening to the comments made by the leaders of the GOP they can’t wait for January so they can pretent to repeal health care and the rest of the Democratic accomplishments. It is obvious that Obama will have a very busy time using his veto pen. There is no veto proof majority in congress so we can look forward to two more years of gridlock. Perhaps by 2012 the schizophrenic voters will realize that going backward will not solve anything. All of this nonsense about deficits, small government and wanting Washington to do something do not add up. The government has two ways to help employment…tax policy and spending. Over 30% of the stimulus was tax cuts to America along with not enough spending to make a difference. The GOP won’t spend anything, so how will they make a difference in unemployment? They won’t!

  21. MapleLeaf says:

    And now Canada is saying “Well, if the USA don’t move on reducing GHG emissions, neither will we”.

    Great. God help us all…

  22. Dickensian American says:


    I was just starting to get over that empty, helpless, voiceless feeling that the life under the bush administration instilled in me. I know the dems have been far from the best the past 2 years. But I’m not ready for this next wave of republican control.

    really effing bummed about these results.

  23. Dan B says:

    MapleLeaf @ 21;

    I agree. We’re entering territory more frightening than any scary story.

    Will it be a bright new future of clean green energy jobs that make the planet a paradise – or – will it be a future that wipes human beings from the face of planet earth? I hope for the former and attempt to gird myself for the latter.

    NOVA just aired a program on elevators, technically amazing because the technology is at its limit, the “story” was about a guy who was trapped in an elevator in a Rockefeller Center building. No one answered the phone.

    That’s what I feel like most days, especially when the “weather” is so far off “normal”.

  24. John Mason says:

    O’Donnell & Angle failed to make it – minor consolation prize!

    Cheers – John

  25. caerbannog says:

    Andy Revkin has a discussion thread going over at , entitled “Girding for a Republican Gavel at Climate Hearings”

    I thought that I’d go bat for Dr. Mann, so I posted a message over there — out of the 37 posts so far, mine is the first one that Mr. Revkin has highlighted as being “one of the most interesting and thoughtful” (I can feel my head swelling a bit already).

    Here’s what I posted:

    OK, so it’s agreed that publicly-funded scientists like Michael Mann should be willing to answer questions about their work. Dr. Mann definitely should be willing to communicate with the taxpayers who have helped fund his work, and he should make his data and code available for outside scrutiny.

    But wait — he’s already done that. He teaches students at his university, and has written some very informative articles about his work and posted them to the web where anyone can read them. He also has made all of his “hockey-stick” data and code freely available for anyone to download and scrutinize (Google is your friend here).

    In short, he has provided taxpayers tremendous value. Dr. Mann has the mathematical/analytical talent to make millions of dollars cooking up fancy financial derivatives on Wall Street. But instead, he chose a much more modestly-paying career track as a scientist. Instead of making himself rich and helping to destroy the economy, he has focused his time and energy to advance our knowledge about the Earth’s climate.

    Now for those of you who are demanding that Dr. Mann be held accountable for the money he has spent on research, are you equally willing to demand that GOP congresscritters also be accountable to taxpayers? Don’t you think that a chairperson of an energy or environment committee, someone who votes him/herself pay-raises, should take the effort to learn enough about climate-science to ask Dr. Mann intelligent questions? Don’t you think that a congressman who enjoys far better pay and benefits than the average climate scientist should put forth some honest effort to learn science at the high-school level?

    Dr. Mann has worked his tail off for his salary, and has contributed immensely to the scientific body of knowledge. Isn’t it reasonable to expect a congressmen to put in some effort to learn enough at least to ask him some intelligent questions?

    Or are congresscritters who agree with your political ideology somehow immune from the kind of accountability that you demand of climate scientists?

  26. Ross Hunter says:

    Leif #19 – that’s it.

    Beyond hope and despair lies duty. Focus on our way forward, don’t look at the ugliness. Many people and creatures have real problems, and for the most part we do not. We can work, so let’s.

  27. Listen, the good news is that we know it is impossible for the republicans to deliver on their promises… the ones they made to the voters anyway.
    Let’s keep that in the headlines.

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    It looks like the new Speaker of the House will be John Boehner, the man who said, “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

    I have a bad feeling about this.

  29. From a note by Bruce Nilles:

    This month we are celebrating 24 months – two full years – since a new coal plant has broken ground. We have shutdown the pipeline of new projects!

    During this time companies have identified more than 10,000MW of coal will be retired over the next 5 or so years) and in 2008 and 2009 a total of 17,000MW of clean energy has been installed (wind and solar).

    We are working on a final analyses, but strong EPA rules that require the full suite of non-co2 pollution controls – scrubber for So2, SCR for Nox, baghouse/activated carbon for mercury and particulates, and cooling towers to limit fish kills/water use – is equivalent to upwards of $50/ton of carbon tax. That pushes a large part of the coal fleet into obsolete status. Our opportunity is to push and support Lisa Jackson to require these investment decisions and force companies to confront the fact that such investments are uneconomical compared to the clean energy alternatives.

    I would add that the “pipeline of new projects” for coal has been shut down as much because of the
    non-economic nature of new thermal power plants as due to any citizen opposition.
    We’ll have our hands full keeping this record going, in places like my home state, Michigan,
    so citizens will have to be on their best game and more.
    So it sucks, but it’s not like we are powerless. Time to go to work even harder.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Time to reengage and recommit: a lot of American voters still do not get it when it comes to the reality of climate science and the dimensions of the threat. We need a massive increase in targeted education to different demographic groups and regions to make this an issue where denying reality or refusing to act will bring consequences.

  31. jcwinnie says:

    Zo Jean Luc, yer sayin there was a chance for serious climate action before?

  32. Chris Winter says:

    The tan man rides a red tide to victory.

    What happens to people who swim in a red tide?

  33. Chris Winter says:

    John Mason wrote: “O’Donnell & Angle failed to make it – minor consolation prize!”

    O’Donnell and Angle and (almost certainly) Miller in Alaska.

    However, Michele Bachmann survived.

    “Strange days indeed!”

  34. Sasparilla says:

    Dan B (#8)

    “Which scenario is (are?) likely:

    Any others?”

    Don’t forget:

    Republicans with enough Democrat turncoats enact legislation that strips EPA of its authority to regulate green house gas emissions with enough support to over-ride a presidential veto (if that is even required).

    Its important to remember that the Dems have received almost as much money from our fossil fuel friends over the last year as the Republicans and large chunks of them actively stood in the way of climate change legislation.

    Thank goodness California came through last night. They’ll be able to show the rest of the country where it can go (10-15 years from now) when its gets serious about climate change legislation (which would appear to be a long time from now).

  35. Eric Normand says:

    The results of this election made me think of the Huey Lewis song “Back in Time” from the movie Back to the Future. In other words, welcome to the year 2000 (or maybe even 1955)

    If you’re in a solemn mood, because of the outcome of yesterday’s election, maybe this song will cheer you up!

  36. peter whitehead says:

    Sad to see the US sliding downwards – perhaps time for California to seceed and let other states decide what to do next. A big rump of the country is slipping into the Dark ages. In about 410 AD the Roman Emperor told Britain he could not keep legions on the island to defend it. The Roman Empire was on the way out. Bye Bye American Empire

  37. Mike says:

    AP: Obama also virtually abandoned legislation, hopelessly stalled in the Senate, that includes economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources.

    “I’m going to be looking for other means of addressing this problem,” he said. “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat.”

  38. Edward says:

    “the United States will do absolutely nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Obama’s EPA is shutting down Mountaintop Removal coal mining for “environmental” reasons [water pollution].
    Obama’s Department of Labor is shutting down an underground mine because of safety violations and deaths of miners.
    Nothing was done for the previous 30 or more years on either of these situations.

    Obama’s EPA is considering changing the rules so that coal ash will be treated as hazardous waste. It is more correct to say that coal ash is low level radioactive waste, but it must happen one step at a time. Disruptions must be limited to a manageable level. Treating coal ash as hazardous waste puts coal ash within the jurisdiction of the EPA without having to change any laws.

    The engine making the CO2 can be shut off either at the input end or at the exhaust end. Coal ash is the exhaust end. If coal ash cannot be disposed of cheaply or at a profit, burning coal becomes impossible. Electric utilities will be liable for cleaning up the hazardous coal ash that they have already created. WHEN coal ash is admitted to be radioactive waste, burning coal will be impossible and a great controversy will ensue.

    Conclusion: The Obama Administration is taking action at the maximum bureaucratic speed to curb CO2 emissions in the absence of congressional action.

    All 3 of the above actions raise the cost of coal. These 3 actions are the “stealth” strategy for limiting CO2 emissions. They make the alternatives more attractive. Coal is the source of energy that makes the most CO2. In all 3 cases, old laws are enforced for the first time. New laws are not required. All that is required is a president who is determined to do something about CO2.

    We could even say that the Cap & Trade bill was the camouflage or sacrificial distraction or feint attack.

    Obama is very cleverly doing quite a bit to curb greenhouse gas emissions. WHEN coal ash is admitted to be radioactive waste, our CO2 emissions will drop 40%. There will be a great emotional reaction nationwide and worldwide. Coal will become “radioactive” in the emotional sense. This will be a psychological change equal to the change caused by 9/11.

    Never again say “the United States will do absolutely nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

  39. Another face in the clouds says:

    The horses have left the barn, Mr. Boehner, lots of barns in fact. The stimulus money arrived here long ago and is headlong at work on environmental projects that you won’t like because they make sense. Better yet, it’s snowballing into new ideas by entrepreneurs who are creating even more jobs and ideas. Progress is multiplying like jack rabbits. It is becoming the norm.

    So, Mr. Boehner, have a good time wearing your underwear on your head and telling everyone you love them. In fact, may I suggest a new drinking game for electric and hybrid cars?