A California earthquake shocks Detroit

More bad news for automakers? California's Henry Waxman wins a preliminary vote to unseat Michigan's John Dingell as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


Andrew Leonard
November 20, 2008 12:52AM (UTC)

Not only do Detroit's Big Three appear to be on the verge of going down, but their biggest defender, 81-year-old Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., may be about to lose his powerful post as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that California's Henry Waxman won a Democratic Steering Committee vote to take over the chairmanship.

It's not a done deal yet; the full House Democratic Caucus will vote yea or nay on the decision on Thursday. But if the rank-and-file membership upholds the Steering Committee vote, you can expect environmentalists to be doing some more dancing in the street. Many activists consider Dingell to have been a steadfast opponent of tougher fuel economy standards. His 2007 proposal to tax carbon emissions was widely viewed as a sneaky political maneuver aimed at equating climate change action with big new taxes. Waxman, on the other hand, favors an aggressive approach to tackling climate change and other environmental issues.

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On Tuesday, Barack Obama reiterated his support of a federal cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, in a video message sent to a California global warming summit. It will be a lot easier to get such legislation through the House if Waxman is calling the shots, instead of Dingell.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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