Despite his many faults, McCarthy at least acknowledged that climate change wasn’t “fake news.”
He also supported some fringe climate initiatives such as the planting a Trillion Trees Act, and he was open to dialogue to reform the permitting process for energy projects.
Then again, he opposed California’s cap-and-trade program and wanted to continue the Trump administration’s environmental deregulation efforts. And it can’t be said that he was a fan of the IRA. Generally, McCarthy’s views were not so much ideological but politically driven.
That didn’t work out so well for him, but his removal may not work out so well for the climate agenda. I think we can generally forget about things getting better under new leadership. The only question is whether things get worse, and if so by how much. That depends on his replacement.
At a minimum the talks on permit reform will be on hold. A top McCarthy deputy – Garret Graves of Louisiana – was the point person for these discussions and there is no guarantee his influence will continue. There is however bipartisanship on the issue because the Democrats want permitting reform for renewable energy projects and the Republicans want it for fossil fuel projects. Ironic that the same desire can yield diametrically opposed environmental results.
So who are the possible candidates for Speaker?
Steve Scalise: One of the frontrunners, Scalise runs the House Energy Action Team and makes an annual trip to oil rigs in his district. He is also not exactly a believer in climate science.
Tom Emmer (Majority Whip): Emmer comes from a state (Minnesota) heavily dependent on mining and mineral extraction. At least it’s not an oil, coal, or natural gas state.
Elise Stefanik: Representative Stefanik would be a net positive. She voted to rejoin the Paris accord, place limits on methane emissions, and was against drilling in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico. This may be the best possible pick for the environmental effort but don’t hold your breathe.
Patrick McHenry: He’s the acting speaker and a long shot to assume the position on a permanent basis. He is no fan of the environmental movement.
And then there’s Jim Jordan: Jordan is Trump’s pick for the job, but there is a legitimate question whether Trump’s endorsement will help or hurt him. According to the League of Conservation Voters’ since joining congress in 2007 only 3% of his votes on green issues were pro-environment. His LCV scorecard for 2022: ZERO. Jordan assuming the role is a real possibility.
This may sound like a crazy idea, but perhaps the Democrats should attempt to cut a deal with moderate Republicans to avoid a worse-case result. You know – just for yucks, work with the opposition for the good of the country.