Huge foe of global warming efforts is ousted from post
John Byrne
Published: Thursday November 20, 2008

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Automakers' closest friend kicked out of chairmanship

It's the end of an era -- Michigan Democrat John Dingell has been officially toppled from his post as head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In a secret ballot, Dingell was voted out by the Democrats 137-122 and replaced with Rep. Henry Waxman, a notable critic and aggressive investigator of the Bush Administration as chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

The vote is a victory for environmentalists and a huge new blow for the US auto industry. Dingell was one of the auto industry's biggest supporters -- his wife Debbie is a lobbyist for General Motors and is a descendant of the founding family -- and a consistent for of tighter fuel efficiency [CAFE] standards for automobiles. Dingell and his wife are pictured above right.

In effect, Dingell was probably the biggest Democratic opponent to efforts to tighten fuel economy standards as a means of combating now accepted global warming concerns.

Waxman is younger than the long-serving Dingell, who is near to becoming the longest serving House member in history. Waxman is 69; Dingell is 82.

"The ascension of Waxman, a wily environmentalist, recasts a committee that Dingell has chaired since 1981 with an eye toward protecting the domestic auto industry in his native Michigan," Politico noted Thursday. "The Energy and Commerce Committee has principal jurisdiction over many of President-elect Barack Obama's top legislative priorities, including energy, the environment and health care."

"Seniority is important, but it should not be a grant of property rights to be chairman for three decades or more," Waxman told reporters after the vote.