Thursday, January 8, 2009

Subcommittee chairman change reinforces House panel's new direction

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's transition continued today with the announcement that Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) will switch subcommittee chairmanships in a few more weeks. Markey will take the Energy and Environment Subcommittee's helm and Boucher will lead the Communications, Technology and Internet Subcommittee.

The switch comes several weeks after Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) successfully challenged Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the full committee. The subcommittee leadership change reinforces the full committee's transition to a leadership ready to more aggressively pursue global climate change programs, particularly a carbon cap-and-trade program. It also moves Markey from the sidelines to a spot where he can begin developing the sort of bill that Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want.

The subcommittee chairman switch is not surprising. Boucher comes from a coal-producing district. He worked closely with Dingell to formulate a cap-and-trade proposal during 2008 that some House Democrats considered too cautious and deliberate.

Markey has not been shy about criticizing either the Bush administration or the oil and gas industry during the two years he's been chairing the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. While he's held some interesting hearings, he hasn't been in a position to push legislation very far. He will be now and it could be lively.


Anonymous Kevin Kelley said...

Let's hope that Speaker Pelosi and representatives Waxman and Markey look at all the sides of a Cap and Trade program before bringing forth any new legislation.

The domestic coal industry could take a serious hit from the new changes in these committees.

January 13, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous PJHunter said...

Markey and the rest should carefully consider the Cap and Trade program before moving forward.

However, for all his criticisms of the Bush Administration and the O&G industry, he shows pragmatism on energy issues.

He spearheaded legislation to stop buying oil for strategic reserves back when oil was $4/gallon. Now, he is promoting the purchase of oil for strategic reserves because oil is so cheap.

He realizes that O&G will be with us for a long time as we decrease our oil dependence. His response to his party's direction will ultimately reveal how pragmatic he is.

January 15, 2009 at 2:05 PM  

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