A new attitudePosted on November 26th, 2008 No comments
Hmmm, I wonder why moving the Michigan Representative out and the California Representative in would be bad for the car industry and great for alt vehicles?
Well, no I don’t.
Waxman Will Be Good for Cleantech, Industry Insiders Say
Written by Jennifer Kho
Cleantech industry insiders are hailing the selection of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as a win for the environment.
In a secret ballot, the House of Representatives on Thursday voted 137-122 for Waxman to replace former chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.). It’s the latest event in a long-standing rivalry between the two men, according to the Associated Press.
“The champion of the environment has replaced the champion of the automotive industry,” Daniel Becker, an environmental lawyer and director of the Safe Climate Campaign in Washington, told Bloomberg.
It’s not hard to see why environmentalists would favor Waxman.
As the head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Waxman has taken a strong stance in favor of global warming legislation. Under his leadership, the environment has clearly been at the top of the committee’s agenda, with only one out of 50 announcements released this year not directly related to an environmental issue – and that was a report in March that found that the Environmental Protection Agency had been unjustified in its closure of several libraries.
Among other things, Waxman has been leading an investigation into the EPA’s “faltering enforcement” of the Clean Water Act, as an August news release from the committee put it, and also has been front and center in the battle to convince the EPA to allow California to enforce stricter vehicle-emission standards.
The fight between the EPA and California began in 2002, when the state passed a law to cut vehicle emissions 30 percent by 2016. The federal Clean Air Act allows for the state to set its own standards – although it needs a waiver from the agency – and for other states to choose whether to follow the national standards or the Golden State’s.
As of December, 16 other states – together making up some 45 percent of U.S. auto sales – had been considering adopting California’s standard. But after a volley of lawsuits, the agency that month finally ruled on the waiver – and denied it.
In a letter opposing the decision, Waxman wrote: “Your decision appears to have ignored the evidence before the agency and the requirements of the Clean Air Act.” He followed up in January with a request to interview seven high-level EPA staffers to find out why the agency had denied the waiver, and in April subpoenaed documents involving the decision.
All this makes Waxman a likely champion for green transportation companies and advocates. Felix Kramer, founder of plug-in hybrid advocacy group CalCars.org, commended the House’s decision in a mass e-mail Friday. “Since 1981, whenever the Democrats have had a House majority, it’s been chaired by Rep. John Dingell, 82, the longest-serving member of Congress,” he wrote. “It’s hard to overstate the impact this will have on prospects for climate-change legislation.”
While Dingell was responsible for landmark health, labor, social welfare and environmental legislation, Kramer added, he has for decades “blocked most proposals that the auto industry opposed, including measures on fuel efficiency and climate change.”
Still, not everyone’s happy with the change. Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, told Bloomberg the win creates “about as hostile a climate as there could possibly be” for energy producers.
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