The United States midterm elections, seen by many as a referendum on the policies of the Obama administration, placed Republicans in charge of the Senate and House which could spell big trouble for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
With their landslide victory, Senate Republicans have identified EPA rules as one of the top targets. The Hill reported that incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) identified his top priority come January as "to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in."
McConnell made his defense of coal a major piece of Kentucky’s economy, a highlight of his reelection bid, which he won easily over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
In addition to stopping Obama's so called "war on coal," The Hill reported that Republicans will also look to turn back EPA rules on rules on mercury and other air toxics from power plants, limits on ground-level ozone that causes smog, mountaintop mining restrictions and the EPA’s attempt to redefine its jurisdiction over streams and ponds.
An alley for McConnell in his fight against the EPA will be Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who said on election night that he would become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee after having led it from 2003 to 2007.
Inhofe is an established enemy of Obama's EPA and skeptic of the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, having written a book two years ago titled "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future."
He has compared the EPA to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo and pushed to roll back water and air pollution rules, ozone limits and funding for contamination cleanup, The Hill reported.
Leading the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who wants to increase domestic energy production and exports. She also doubts humans' responsibility for climate change.
The House has already passed a slate of bills to roll back many EPA regulations, though Senate Republicans haven't promised to follow the lower chamber's lead.