Waxman to chair House energy committee

By Kris Bevill | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 20, 2008 at 3:31 p.m. CST

The U.S. House of Representative's Democratic caucus voted 137 to 122 to follow the recommendations of its steering committee and appoint Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, unseating veteran chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. The decision has the potential to affect the entire renewable fuels industry. Dingell is a long-time friend of the U.S. auto industry; while Waxman is interested in easing global warming, which is also a concern for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

The energy and commerce committee holds jurisdiction over many of the energy and climate change issues that directly affect renewable fuels, including such broad categories as the national energy policy and the exploration, production, storage, supply, marketing, pricing and regulation of all renewable energy resources.

Rep. Dingell is the longest serving current member of the House of Representatives. Among the legislation Dingell has sponsored during his 53 years of serving as representative of Michigan's 15th Congressional District, is the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. Some of his opponents have noted his close associations to Detroit automakers and have said he's not pro-active enough when it comes to climate change issues, criticizing his recent discussion draft of climate change legislation that Dingell said is the result of two years of work on the issue.

As a representative since 1974 from California's 30th Congressional District, which includes Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, Waxman is viewed by some to be more aggressive than Dingell on environmental issues. He currently serves as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Waxman takes credit for being one of the primary authors of the 1990 Clean Air Act. His most recent environmentally-geared legislation proposal was the Safe Climate Act of 2006. In a statement released Nov. 5 announcing his bid to become chairman of the energy and commerce committee, Waxman said his record proves he possesses the necessary skill and ability to deliver effective legislation which will confront some of the most pressing issues in the United States today.