I For One Welcome Our New Mustachioed Overlords


The environmental movement has claimed a big, 82-year old scalp: Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who's been in Congress since Eisenhower's first term, has lost the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to California Rep. Henry Waxman.

Waxman's takeover of the Energy and Commerce caps a quarter-century rivalry between him and Dingell. While they agree on many issues — most notably health care — the two men have clashed since the 1980s over environmental regulations. Waxman, who leans to the left of his party, is an advocate of strong clean air protections and stringent fuel-efficiency and energy conservation measures.

Dingell has been a fierce protector of the auto industry, which is crucial to the economy of his home state of Michigan.

Waxman's victory gives him control of one of the most powerful committees in Congress, with jurisdiction that touches almost every corner of domestic policy, from energy to health care to telecommunications.

You can't overstate how much liberals had come to resent Dingell. Glenn Hurowitz's 2007 rundown of the saga is a good place to start.

In a nod to Dingell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excluded an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency—despite the fact that the Senate included such an increase in its energy bill and more than 200 House co-sponsors have publicly backed the measure. It was a notable gap in a bill that otherwise included aggressive measures to tackle the climate crisis and secure energy independence, like diverting $16 billion in subsidies from oil and gas companies towards clean energy…

Earlier this summer, Dingell floated an energy proposal that could almost have come out of Dick Cheney's energy task force. Not only did it propose massive subsidies for dirt fossil fuels like coal and prohibit increases in automobile fuel efficiency, it took a somewhat gratuitous swipe at Pelosi's home state by revoking California's more than 30-year-old authority to set its own cleaner air standards.

Reason contributing editor Julian Sanchez has more on Waxman's views of intellectual property, part of his new fiefdom.