A Paul Ryan-Led House Unlikely To Shift Much On Climate Issues

After a turbulent five-week search, the House is expected to elect Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as speaker this week. The change in leadership, which comes amid political gridlock and a colorful presidential campaign, doesn't bode well for climate action on Capitol Hill, environmental and political experts said.

Ryan will replace Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who has served as speaker for the past five years. Boehner announced his retirement from Congress last month after 25 years in office. Under Boehner's leadership, Congress has tried to stymie federal climate change action in recent years, from slashing funding for environmental regulations and science through appropriations bills to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

A Ryan-led House likely won't be much better, experts told InsideClimate News.

And that's if the House tackles climate change at all in the next couple of years, said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Ryan's first priorities in office will be the debt ceiling, the Highway Trust Fund and the 2016 budget, O'Connell said. By next spring, Washington will be captive to the presidential election.

"Right now Congress is just trying clean its slate," O'Connell said. "There's just no room on the agenda for climate change, even if both sides were in agreement over it."

Read more from Katherine Bagley at InsideClimate News

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