As a result of this month's shift in control of the US Congress to the GOP, House Committees will see an influx of new Chairs. With Republicans holding a 23-9 edge among the Texas delegation, it's no surprise that a couple of them are in the running to grab gavels of their own. Unfortunately, that's not going to be of much benefit to our state or the nation. Consider the following from Newsweek…
Joe Barton, candidate for House Energy and Commerce Committee chair: The Texas congressman faces an uphill road to reclaiming the chairmanship of the committee he led from 2004 to 2006. After he'd repeatedly antagonized the GOP leadership, his apology to the then-CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, during a congressional hearing in June crossed a serious line in the sand and allowed liberal politicians and groups to lampoon Republicans as cartoonishly pro-big oil. Although party leaders are said to want to shunt him aside, he's launched a furious campaign, rallying the Republican rank and file to support him. While Barton's BP comments caused an uproar, they weren't the most aggressive statements he's made. As The Washington Post pointed out at the time, he had previously stated that humans would simply adapt to global warming, argued that wind would compensate for rising temperatures by cooling the planet, and said carbon dioxide was basically good for the world: “CO2 is odorless, colorless, tasteless-it's not a threat to human health in terms of being exposed to it. We create it as we talk back and forth. So, and if you go beyond that, on a net basis, there's ample evidence that warming generically-however it is caused-is a net benefit to mankind.” (His comments, of course, don't account for the much greater volumes of carbon dioxide being produced today that don't come from respiration or conversation.)
Ralph Hall, candidate for House Science and Technology Committee chair: Texas representative Hall is in line to head the House's main body on science. Currently the committee's ranking GOP member, he is an attorney by trade and was a Democrat until 2004. Hall is, at best, skeptical of science on global warming, despite an overwhelming consensus among scientists that the planet's climate is changing because of human activity. In particular, he objects to the Environmental Protection Agency's attempts to regulate greenhouse gases. A court ruled in 2007 that the EPA could regulate carbon, and with attempts to move a bill through Congress dead in the water, it's likely to be the locus of CO2 action for the foreseeable future. Last week Hall told Politico: “This administration argues that cutting greenhouse emissions as a policy directive is justified by science. I think this hearing today will demonstrate and should demonstrate that reasonable people have serious questions about our knowledge of the state of the science.”
Barton has multiple challengers for the spot, not that they are any better. John Shimkus from Illinois isn't worried about global warming because he believes the Bible is the final word of God and God stated to Noah that he wouldn't destroy the world by flood ever again. Fred Upton is more moderate due to his support of more energy efficient lightbulbs, though that stance might be enough to sink his chances among a GOP caucus that would rather have the House Energy and Commerce Committee stay in the scientific dark.
How far have we fallen? And to think that the Texas delegation's seniority once meant something.