"Ballots will be trickling in for some time," said Ross Macfarlane, an analyst at the nonprofit Climate Solutions.
The results could determine the fate of several proposed ports to link coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia.
Neither candidate has taken a firm state on the issue, but the next governor will hold sway over the scope of a critical environmental review process conducted jointly with the federal government over the ports, said Macfarlane. The governor could influence whether the review considers how the ports would affect global emissions, along with local effects such as train traffic through communities.
The race also could change the state's renewable policies (ClimateWire, Nov. 5).
New N.C. governor could influence sea-level rise report
In North Carolina, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory became the state's first Republican governor since 1993 by defeating Democratic candidate Walter Dalton.
Climate change was not an issue in the race but could arise as a topic for McCrory because of coastal policy. North Carolina made national headlines this year after its state Senate considered a bill blocking future projections of sea-level rise in coastal planning decisions.
That bill was later discarded for one that essentially punted the issue for four years, while the state Coastal Resources Commission studies the science behind sea-level rise. Many scientists agree that global sea levels will rise at least 3 feet by 2100 because of warming temperatures.
McCrory could influence the commission's final report on the topic, considering the governor's power over appointing commission members, said Todd Miller, executive director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
The commission's final report in conjunction with a science panel will make a big difference on how high, and where, buildings are constructed on the North Carolina coast, Miller said.
McCrory has not spoken out extensively on sea-level rise, and his past record has left environmentalists speculating. As the mayor of Charlotte, he advocated for light rail and smart growth policies.
At the same time, he barred the city's participation in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement because it did not include nuclear power, according to the group Local Governments for Sustainability, or ICLEI. Since then, he has aligned with tea party supporters by coming out against Agenda 21, a U.N. plan for sustainable development.
"The real question is, which Pat McCrory will show up?" said Molly Higgins, state director at the state Sierra Club.
The main thing that is known about McCrory's energy policy, Higgins said, is that he is a big advocate of offshore drilling and wants to enter a revenue-sharing agreement with other states to get it going. McCrory formerly worked for Duke Energy Corp.
Miller said that offshore drilling, if it ever happens in the state, could play into coastal policy in the sense that McCrory has called for using some revenue from drilling for beach restoration.
Pence to governor's mansion in Ind.
In Indiana, Republicans maintained control of the governor's mansion with the election of Mike Pence, an Indiana congressman.
Even though there was not a change in political party, the election could affect one of the most significant projects in the United States envisioning the capture of carbon dioxide from a coal facility for later storage underground.
The Indiana gasification project is linked to a proposed Midwest-Gulf Coast CO2 pipeline that could provide a financial boost for other stalled "clean" coal initiatives that do not currently have a way to carry captured carbon dioxide to storage spots.