WASHINGTON—Now that Republicans will be calling the shots in the House, the Democratic duo responsible for crafting the polemical cap-and-trade energy legislation are on their way out of powerful positions.
Rep. Henry Waxman of California will lose his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will no longer head up the Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. The latter committee, formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2007, might be disbanded by Republican leaders.
On Nov. 2, both Democrats were re-elected to what will be their 19th terms in the 112th Congress. Compared with Waxman, the three Republicans now jockeying to lead the energy committee have “radically different scores” for their environmental voting records from the League of Conservation Voters, said Gene Karpinski, president of the advocacy organization.
The California Democrat has earned a lifetime score of 91 on a scale of 100 from the league.
Moderate Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan has a lifetime score of 39, while John Shimkus of Illinois and Joe Barton of Texas have lifetime scores of 5 and 6, respectively. Upton’s is the league’s 12th highest score for a Republican.
Barton, now the ranking member of the energy committee, is on strained terms with Republican leadership ever since he apologized to BP executives at the height of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He would have to be granted a waiver to earn the chairmanship because he’s at the end of his six-year limit for having that top spot.
Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida also has reportedly made rumblings about seeking leadership of the energy committee. His lifetime score from the league is 17.
Pelosi and Republican John Boehner of Ohio, the presumptive House speaker, have scores that are polar opposites. Pelosi’s is 92 while Boehner’s is 2.
Over in the House Natural Resources Committee, outgoing Democratic chairman Nick Rahall of West Virginia has a lifetime score is 67. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is expected to seek that leadership position. Hastings, just elected to a ninth term in Congress, has a lifetime score of 2.
Seven of 13 “Dirty Baker’s Dozen” Defeated
Despite it being a rough round of elections for Democrats, Karpinski and his advocacy organization could brag about beating back more than half of this year’s Dirty Dozen list.
LCV bucked tradition this election this election cycle by adding a California ballot measure to its trademark list, reserved up until now for members of Congress who consistently vote against clean energy and the environment. Adding Proposition 23 to the compilation of candidates made this year’s list a “Baker’s Dirty Dozen” of 13.
Environmental organizations were especially proud to participate in the resounding demise of Proposition 23, which was voted down 61 percent to 39 percent. Two out-of-state oil companies funded the effort to dismantle the Golden State’s landmark legislation intended to curb heat-trapping gases and convert to a low-carbon economy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was instrumental in rallying efforts against the proposition.
“In the one race where the words global warming were literally on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly voted for clean energy,” Karpinski said. “[They] did so in a state with the country’s third highest unemployment rate because they recognize that transitioning to a clean energy future is a path toward renewed economic prosperity.”
Also, half of 12 of the candidates named to the league’s list were defeated during Tuesday’s elections or during the primary season. Five of them were vying for Senate seats, while one was making an effort to serve in the House again. Many named to the list had been endorsed by the Tea Party movement and denied that human activities such as burning fossil fuels were causing the Earth to warm.
“Big Oil and their allies in Congress may try to claim that the election’s results were a rejection of clean-energy policies,” Karpinski said. “Quite frankly, that's insulting to voters, and it’s just not true. Several of the ‘flat earthers’ running for Senate were defeated.”
Losers among the “Dirty Dozen” in the Senate included Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Republicans Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado, Carly Fiorina of California and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware.
However, three other Republican Senate candidates—Roy Blunt of Missouri, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania—won their races. Johnson knocked out three-term incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold with 52 percent of the vote, while the other two won open seats.
On the House side, Republican Richard Pombo lost his bid to return to Congress in the California primary last June. Conversely, the other three Republican representatives were victorious on Election Day. Michele Bachmann was re-elected with 53 percent of the vote in her Minnesota district. Also, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Tim Walberg of Michigan regained the seats in districts where they served previously.
Pearce bested one-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Harry Teague by a 10 percent margin—55 percent to 45 percent—in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District after failing in a bid for U.S. Senate seat a few years ago. Walberg ousted one-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Mark Schauer by a 5 percent margin—50 percent to 45 percent—in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District.