Why was energy such a key issue during the midterm debates?

The pivotal midterm issues

The midterm debates hinged on minimum wage, taxes, Obamacare, foreign policy, the economy, and immigration. But you should give one issue special attention—energy policy. Two policies stand out here: the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama’s quest for cleaner energy.

President Obama has a low approval rating—42%. Back in January 2009, his approval rating was 67%. At his 2012 re-election, he had 54% approval. So this is an important change.

Why was energy such a key issue during the midterm debates?

Keystone XL pipeline

The Keystone oil pipeline system spans the U.S. and Canada. Three phases are running already. The fourth phase, Keystone XL, is a hot topic. Obama rejected it in January 2012, citing environmental harm to Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills region.

TransCanada Corporation (TRP) then proposed a new route. Obama indefinitely postponed reviewing the project—even though Nebraska already approved.

What’s changed? With a clear majority in Congress, Republicans can pressure Obama to approve the 1,180-mile Keystone XL pipeline.

Opposition to regulations

Some Republican leaders fiercely oppose the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) quest for cleaner energy.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell should become the Senate’s majority leader. Kentucky is a major coal state. McConnell campaigned against the EPA’s war on coal.

Then we have Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who downplays global warming. He could become the next chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the EPA.

No wonder coal stocks (KOL) gained on the election results. Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) was the biggest winner. It gained around 17% on November 5. That same day, Cloud Peak Energy (CLD) gained 7.8% and Peabody Energy (BTU) gained 4.8%.

Why should you focus on the EPA’s war on coal? Find out in Part 3 of this series.