I haven’t blogged about the fight for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee because I thought it was a done deal. Rep. Dingell has been running that committee for an eternity, and he has a lot of power and support. He is also, unfortunately, in the pocket of Big Oil and Big Auto. His intransigence is partly responsible for our nation’s lagging fuel economy standards, and for our slow progress on other policies that could have forced Detroit to take the initiative on hybrid cars and other alternative technologies. The Big Three clearly thought that those actions were to their benefit, but a look at their balance sheets suggests that they could have benefited from a sterner taskmaster in Congress.

Which is why it is exciting that the House Democratic Steering Committee approved Waxman over Dingell:

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted 25-22 earlier today to recommend House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) take over as chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). A final decision ?will most likely be made by the full Democratic Caucus Thursday,? according to CongressDaily.

Dingell still throws around a lot of weight, so the vote of the full Caucus is far from a done deal, but this shows that Waxman’s whip operation may be strong enough take the gavel from one of the biggest obstacles to a comprehensive response to climate change. Giving Waxman that power would also benefit American auto manufacturers, and the American economy.

There’s no question that we are losing sales domestically and abroad to clean(er) technologies developed by Toyota and other foreign manufacturers. If we’re to remain a dominant economy in the 21st century, and to regain our status as a net exporter of goods and ideas, we have to make serious investments in clean power generation. The goal can’t be to create a “green economy” within the broader US and world economies; we have to make the US and world economies into green economies. Rep. Dingell has shown no interest in that, and Rep. Waxman has.

Good luck to him.

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