The November 8 US presidential election results will bring new faces and policies to the energy world in January 2017 when the 115th Congress convenes and President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice President–Elect Mike Pence are sworn into office. The first order of business for the president-elect and his transition team will be to assemble their Cabinet. All indications point to the secretaries of the Departments of Energy and Interior and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency—all Cabinet positions—as the likely nominees who will advance policies to enhance oil and gas production and support the coal industry.
On Capitol Hill, Republican victories on November 8 mean that the GOP will continue to hold its majority position in both the House and Senate for the next two years. In the Senate, the Republican majority has been reduced by two seats from 54 to 51 (the Louisiana Senate run-off election in December will likely result in a Republican victory, bringing the total to 52). The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Energy Committee), which has primary jurisdiction over US energy policy, will see a continuation of the current Republican and Democratic leadership. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (D) will continue as chair, and Washington Senator Patty Murray (D) will continue as the ranking Democrat. The Energy Committee will review President-Elect Trump’s nominations for the secretaries of the Departments of Energy and Interior.
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, which has jurisdiction over environmental policy and air and water pollution, will see a significant change in leadership because of term limits and a retirement. Current Chairman Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is term-limited and will be replaced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). Current Ranking Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who is retiring, will be replaced by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). The EPW Committee will review the nomination for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over both energy and environmental policy, will see a major change on the Republican side of the aisle. Current Chairman Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) is term-limited and will be replaced by either Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) or Representative Greg Walden (R-OR). Rep. Shimkus currently chairs the Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy from which he has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s policies on nuclear waste disposal and the coal industry. Rep. Walden currently chairs the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will continue as the committee’s ranking Democrat.