WASHINGTON—Now that Republicans will be calling the shots in the House, the Democratic duo responsible for crafting the polemical cap-and-trade energy legislation are on their way out of powerful positions.
Rep. Henry Waxman of California will lose his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will no longer head up the Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. The latter committee, formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2007, might be disbanded by Republican leaders.
On Nov. 2, both Democrats were re-elected to what will be their 19th terms in the 112th Congress. Compared with Waxman, the three Republicans now jockeying to lead the energy committee have “radically different scores” for their environmental voting records from the League of Conservation Voters, said Gene Karpinski, president of the advocacy organization.
The California Democrat has earned a lifetime score of 91 on a scale of 100 from the league.
Moderate Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan has a lifetime score of 39, while John Shimkus of Illinois and Joe Barton of Texas have lifetime scores of 5 and 6, respectively. Upton’s is the league’s 12th highest score for a Republican.
Barton, now the ranking member of the energy committee, is on strained terms with Republican leadership ever since he apologized to BP executives at the height of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He would have to be granted a waiver to earn the chairmanship because he’s at the end of his six-year limit for having that top spot.
Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida also has reportedly made rumblings about seeking leadership of the energy committee. His lifetime score from the league is 17.
Pelosi and Republican John Boehner of Ohio, the presumptive House speaker, have scores that are polar opposites. Pelosi’s is 92 while Boehner’s is 2.
Over in the House Natural Resources Committee, outgoing Democratic chairman Nick Rahall of West Virginia has a lifetime score is 67. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is expected to seek that leadership position. Hastings, just elected to a ninth term in Congress, has a lifetime score of 2.
Seven of 13 “Dirty Baker’s Dozen” Defeated
Despite it being a rough round of elections for Democrats, Karpinski and his advocacy organization could brag about beating back more than half of this year’s Dirty Dozen list.
LCV bucked tradition this election this election cycle by adding a California ballot measure to its trademark list, reserved up until now for members of Congress who consistently vote against clean energy and the environment. Adding Proposition 23 to the compilation of candidates made this year’s list a “Baker’s Dirty Dozen” of 13.
Environmental organizations were especially proud to participate in the resounding demise of Proposition 23, which was voted down 61 percent to 39 percent. Two out-of-state oil companies funded the effort to dismantle the Golden State’s landmark legislation intended to curb heat-trapping gases and convert to a low-carbon economy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was instrumental in rallying efforts against the proposition.
“In the one race where the words global warming were literally on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly voted for clean energy,” Karpinski said. “[They] did so in a state with the country’s third highest unemployment rate because they recognize that transitioning to a clean energy future is a path toward renewed economic prosperity.”
Also, half of 12 of the candidates named to the league’s list were defeated during Tuesday’s elections or during the primary season. Five of them were vying for Senate seats, while one was making an effort to serve in the House again. Many named to the list had been endorsed by the Tea Party movement and denied that human activities such as burning fossil fuels were causing the Earth to warm.