Waxman beats Dingell in House Energy Committee race

In a close vote, House Democrats chose Henry Waxman over longtime chair John Dingell; the move could have broad implications for energy and environmental policies.

Published November 20, 2008 5:00PM (EST)

Thursday morning, House Democrats voted 137-122 to make California Rep. Henry Waxman chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee, replacing longtime Chairman John Dingell of Michigan.

The vote wasn't just mundane political infighting -- it could have major implications on energy and environmental policies. Dingell represents a state that depends on the auto industry; if he were chair of the committee, he likely would have posed a major obstacle to the Obama administration's goals on both fronts.

As Salon's Andrew Leonard wrote in a post over at How the World Works on Wednesday, "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."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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