Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Will Take Over for Henry Waxman?

In the wake of an election day shellacking, as our President called it, the Republicans have overwhelmingly taken control of the House of Representatives. And with control comes committee appointments. The Energy and Commerce committee, which has been led for the past two years by Henry Waxman, who boldly coauthored a bill seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions while minimizing the economic impact on consumers and ratepayers, will soon be replaced by a Republican. The contenders: Joe Barton (R-TX), Fred Upton (R-MI), John Shimkus (R-IL), and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

Barton has been the top Republican on the committee for three terms, making him ineligible, by GOP House rules, to become chairman, barring a waiver from Republican leadership. He's also the guy, lest you forget, who apologized to BP for the White House having subjected the company to a "shakedown." He's also an outspoken climate change denier and a staunch opponent of science.

Barton is actively (and by some accounts, underhandedly) opposing the chairmanship of Fred Upton. Once touted by environmentalists as the only candidate for chairman who doesn't deny the science of global warming, it turns out he actually does. And yet, arch-conservatives are joining Barton in opposition to Upton. Why? He coauthored legislation in 2007 to help phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs so that consumers could save money on bulbs that are at least 4-5 times more efficient and last longer. Sorry Fred, but Rush Limbaugh knows "nannyism" and "statism" when he sees it.

Cliff Stearns? Another far-right conservative. He has not outright denied that global warming is happening, but intensely questioning its existence and the validity of scientific consensus on the House floor has to count for something.

Lastly, and certainly my favorite of the bunch, is John Shimkus, wacko nutjob from Illinois. Shimkus has always had a knack for the crazy. Last year, Rep. Shimkus cited Genesis in his assertion that climate change can't pose much of a threat. Separation of church and state aside, he does make some compelling arguments negating the gravity of the situation:
I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God. And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.
And with God on our side, who needs cap and trade? The next two years should be fun.

Image: Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) (Politico)

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