Investors were quaking already, pummeling shares of coal-mining companies that waged a vigorous advertising battle against Obama’s reelection and which are potential casualties of any curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Shares of Peabody Energy fell 9.6 percent Wednesday, Arch Coal plunged 12.5 percent, Consol Energy dropped 6.1 percent, and Alpha Natural Resources sank 12.2 percent.
“Obama’s re-election . . . provides the basis for positive movement on clean tech and climate action once the new Congress meets,” the banking giant HSBC’s global research group told investors in a research note. But it added, “Silence on climate issues during the campaign until the onset of Hurricane Sandy and continued Republican majority in the House means that scope for strategic action will remain limited.”
The Environmental Protection Agency will continue to issue regulations curbing fossil fuel production and promoting energy efficiency, according to people who have spoken with senior administration officials but asked not to be identified. Within the next few months, the agency will probably finalize the first carbon standard for new power plants, along with tighter restrictions on soot emissions from all utilities.
By the end of next year, the agency, which is conducting a study of the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, will probably impose some federal standards on the operations that are driving the country’s natural gas boom. It could consider imposing tighter fuel efficiency standards on heavy-duty trucks, according to several environmentalists.
“What we expect is the president to deliver on climate, roll up his sleeves and build on the modest success of what he’s done so far,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, adding, “There’s a great overlap between what we want and what we think we will get” in a second term.
Jack N. Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said a second Obama term could be good for the oil and gas industry. Though a sharp critic of Obama, Gerard said that “the president’s views have moved 180 degrees from where they were two years ago. The president is now actively articulating an energy vision, ‘all of the above,’ which includes oil and gas as the first two he talks about.”
Gerard said that the API money spent during the campaign was well spent because it made energy issues more central. “Energy has won,” he said.
He said API would look to the administration to streamline drilling permitting and avoid actions to “stymie or limit” hydraulic fracturing. Gerard would oppose a carbon tax, which he said would inhibit production and raise energy costs. But the HSBC note to investors said that a relatively modest $20-a-ton tax on carbon emissions could slash the federal deficit by $1.25 trillion over the next 10 years.