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Posted on on November 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The four people in the race to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee are:

Rep. Joe Barton, the front-runner and former Chair – who has reached term limit and would need a waver that he might not get, in light of the live competition.
Joe Barton is the Texas Republican, well-oiled at the well, who  publicly apologized to Tony Hayward, – the BP CEO at the time of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He has publically embarassed his party at that time, and now contends that his opponents are not conservative enough.

Barton accuses Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, of having voted in 2007 with the bipartisan majority on a ban of the energy wasting incandescent bulbs – a museum relic in many countries overseas – and supported even by some utilities in the US who showed readiness to distribute free compact fluorescence bulbs in order to avoid increasing electricity-production.

Upton actually was not so bad in the G.W. Bush years and cosponsored with Democrats energy saving bills that were signed by President G.W. Bush.

Mr. Barton is supported by the likes of Rush Limbaugh who said the light bulbs bill was “exactly the kind of nanyism that was defeated on November 2, 2010.” He makes the Upton candidacy questionable.

Mr. Barton scares now Mr. Upton who just said that if that bulb-bill comes up again he would reconsider.

Further two candidates in the race are: Rep. Shimkus of Illinois – a backer of ethanol-fuels from corn and a force for agriculture interests who has pressed the Federal Food and Drug Administration on many issues. Also Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida. He can be counted as well on pressing the Committee on eliminating all carbon limits. The Wall Street Journal seems to like the latter because he might be ready to push for a so called “NET NEUTRALITY BILL” that besides its implication on the communication and internet  areas, it could also have a meaning in annulling all subsidies in the energy area, i.e. eliminate the subsidies to oil together with all subsidies to green technologies.

This latter approach will allow for drilling without opposition and the closing of any Federal backing to alternatives.

If above is not enough – Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State, a friend of nuclear energy, called for taking out the whole energy portfolio from the very busy Energy and Commerce Committee, and give it to him, the future Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, that seems to have all time needed for Oil, Gas, Coal, Nuclear – mixing up the notion of energy with tangible Natural Resources – so who needs sun, wind, batteries…. anything that is different from what good old interests crave for?

The Wall Street Journal in a veiled Opinion piece, says that the Department of Energy stimulus-tracking spreadsheet shows it has already awarded $33 Billion to 5,137 entities – to States, to General Electric, to “no-name start-ups,” “and has the audacity to call it a Soviet central planning effort under the guise of ‘investing’ in America’s future.” Don’t you think these are peanuts when compared to all what oil gets directly and indirectly – including the wars for oil?

We ask if the TEA Party newcomers will buy into the stop-all-subsidies idea and hold the feet of the new chair to the Kettle-fire? If those that were not oil-interests-funded come to the forefront, and check the issue to its depth – OK – this might be a start for a better future by default!



WSJ Blogs

Washington Wire

Political Insight and Analysis From The Wall Street Journal’s Capital Bureau

  • November 18, 2010,

Rep. Hastings: Time to Split Up Energy and Commerce Committee.

By Patrick O’Connor

Washington state Rep. Doc Hastings wants to take the “energy” out of Energy and Commerce.

Rep. Doc Hasting (R., Wash.) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee wants to commandeer energy issues from the Energy and Commerce panel. Mr. Hastings made his proposal in a letter to all the Republicans who will be returning to Washington next year.

These jurisdictional power grabs are commonplace when power shifts on Capitol Hill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a special panel on global warming when Democrats took over the House in 2007 to keep pressure on then-Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat with strong ties to the domestic auto industry.

Mr. Hastings offered his proposal as four Republicans brawl for the Energy and Commerce chairmanship. Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the top Republican who’s running up against term limits for the job, sent his own missive today asking to add newly elected lawmakers to the panel. This nasty internecine fight makes the committee vulnerable to a jurisdictional challenge.

The Natural Resources panel oversees drilling, mining and alternative energy development on federal land and offshore. Energy and Commerce oversees the Department of Energy and sets policy for much of the industry, including oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sources.

In his letter, Mr. Hastings argued that consolidating that jurisdiction on a single committee would help Republicans push their “all-of-the-above” energy policy. “What more common sense way to advance this key piece of our agenda, and this priority for the American people, than to make this bold change to create an all-of-the-above ‘Energy and Natural Resources Committee,’” Mr. Hastings wrote.

The Washington Republican also hinted at his jurisdictional motives, calling Energy and Commerce “a Goliath” because its reach spans health care, telecommunications, the Food and Drug Administration and consumer protection. Under his plan, Republicans could split the jurisdiction for two major issues – health care and energy – between separate committees.

“This is the committee that spawned both Obamacare and the Democrats’ cap-and-trade national energy tax,” Mr. Hastings wrote. “Energy deserves the concentrated attention of a committee with full jurisdiction over such a sweeping issue.”

“Jurisdictional raids are old-time, K Street politics,” said Lisa Miller, Mr. Barton’s spokeswoman on the Energy and Commerce Committee, referring to the D.C. street that’s home to many lobbyists’ offices. “Energy and Commerce members have always been united in defending the committee’s jurisdiction. That hasn’t changed.”

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