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January 8, 2009

Hardcore Subcommittee Action
In a development that has been rumored but is now confirmed by the Boston Globe (via Green Inc.), Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will take over the House Energy and the Environment Subcommittee from Rep. Rick Boucher of West Virginia. Markey is a close ally of newly minted chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman.

The Globe reminds us that Markey was the guy House Speaker Nancy Pelosi originally turned to in her failed attempt at the old "Select Committee End-Around" to bypass the auto-industry advocate (and climate change foot-dragger) Michigan's John Dingell - Waxman's predecessor. In the House's Monopoly: Green Politics Edition, Markey and Waxman are pretty much Boardwalk and Park Place. Both are champions of strong cap-and-trade, energy efficiency (including higher mileage standards) and all that legislative goodness we'll need to combat climate change.

As we know from environmental as well as agricultural policy, these committees matter - as I mentioned, Pelosi has been trying for some time to work around these particular committees, whose previous chairs, while progressive in other respects, chose to protect dirty industires (coal in the case of Boucher, cars in the case of Dingell) rather than the environment. With the Senate and its 60 vote requirement representing "centrist" pressure, the House is now guaranteed to provide a nice leftward push to any legislation. Waxman and Markey will make it their business to ensure that no wimpy bills escape their committees. A big deal for sure - and very good news.

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