Republicans in Charge of Climate and Energy

GOP midterm gains in Congress have resulted in a shift that has empoweredRepublicans and crushed hopes for climate and energy legislation. FourRepublicans stand to gain in particular: Fred Upton, Joe Barton, Darrell Issa and Jim Sensenbrenner.

Fred Upton (R-Michigan) is by farthe most rational of these four Republicans on the environment. Upton is one of the frontrunners to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee in2011. Unlike some of his peers, he does believe global warming is real.He told the energy committee early last year: "I have said at nearlyevery climate change hearing that for me I don’t dispute the science.Right or wrong, the debate over the modelling and science appears to beover." He was an architect of the incandescent light bulb ban, and hehas cast votes in opposition to oil and gas production from offshoreareas. However, Upton can be expected to try to curb the EPA’s powers.

Joe Barton (R-Texas) also wants to lead the Energy and Commerce Committeebut he needs a waiver from GOP committee term-limit rules to becomechairman. He won notoriety this summer when he apologised to BP’s TonyHayward for the White House deal establishing a $20bn oil clean-up fund. Barton called the fund a "shakedown".

If denied the energy andcommerce committee, Barton could be a contender to head the sciencecommittee, which would provide a platform for climate science deniers.He also has his sights set on reducing the power of the EPA.

In a letter welcoming the winning Republicans in the House, Bartoncongratulated them on their "well-deserved victory," and he foreshadowed his leadership when he wrote, "When I am chairman, you won’t find anyDemocrats applauding."

Both Upton and Barton voted against majorclean energy legislation passed by the Democratic majority and they both earned a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

Doc Hastings (R -Washington), is currently in the House Natural ResourcesCommittee, he will likely serve as its chairman in the 112th Congress.His pro-energy record energy production will likely translate to morefossil fuel developments on federal lands, both onshore and offshore.

Darrell Issa (R-California) is a high school drop-out who was arrested in hisyouth for auto theft, it is more than a bit ironic that he will havefar-ranging subpoena power in the new Congress.

Issa is nowpoised to become chairman of the House Government Oversight and ReformCommittee. As chairman of the most powerful oversight committee in thenew Republican House, Issa will have enormous power.

Despitethousands of independent studies that support climate change, Issa saysit is time to take yet another look at the science. "That doesn’t meanthat global warming isn’t happening,"Issa conceded, but he wants to buymore time by saying the issue of climate change requires more study(this is a well worn strategy to delay action on climate change).

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), is on the select committee on energyindependence and global warming. Even though he would like to take overthat committee, he does not believe in global warming.

Sensenbrenner is a climate denier of the first order. At the height of thecontroversy over hacked emails from East Anglia last year, he warned of"a massive international scientific fraud" and science "fascism." Thefact that the allegations of fraud were later proven false by fiveseparate inquiries has not deterred Sensenbrenner.

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, sustainable investor and writer. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. He is also the author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, green investing, enviro-politics and eco-economics.


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