Mitch McConnell (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Environmental nightmare”: Why green groups are so terrified of a GOP-controlled Senate

Climate activists warn of "painful whittling away" of environmental protections. Here's how bad it could get

Luke Brinker
September 22, 2014 7:31PM (UTC)

As world leaders prepare to convene at the United Nations for Tuesday’s climate summit, advocates are warning of a potential “environmental nightmare” if Republicans pick up the six seats necessary to gain control of the U.S. Senate.

The Hill reports that environmental groups are spending big to keep the Senate in Democratic hands, fearing a legislative assault on climate science if Republicans enjoy full control of Congress come January.


“I think that the wholesale repeal of environmental legislation, repealing [Environmental Protection Agency] greenhouse gas authority, things like that, that’s unlikely to happen,” Friends of the Earth climate director Ben Schreiber told the Hill. Instead, Schreiber predicted, Republicans would likely opt for “the painful whittling away” of regulations by attaching what are known as riders to unrelated but vital legislation, like bills to keep the government funded.

Schreiber doesn’t think the GOP would pursue “wholesale repeal” of the EPA’s new climate change regulations. Much more likely, Schreiber told the Hill, a GOP Senate majority would seek to pare back the EPA’s authority, implement a drill-baby-drill energy policy, increase subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and undermine the renewable energy industry.

It’s enough to make Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse warn of an “environmental nightmare” should the GOP win Senate control.

More from The Hill’s report:

Daniel J. Weiss, who leads the campaign activities for the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), said he fears that Republicans would seek to block the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which it has been able to do since a 2007 Supreme Court ruling.

“Mitch McConnell has made it clear that if he’s the majority leader, one of his top priorities is to block EPA from doing its job and forcing the Clean Air Act on cutting carbon — which is the biggest step the country has ever taken to cut pollution,” Weiss said.

“And he has made it clear, he’s suggested he’s willing to shut down the government to block EPA, and we want to make sure doesn't happen,” he said.

Luke Brinker

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