Just how much impact will new House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming really have? Grist talks to the chairman

With auto industry stalwart John Dingell in charge of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats wanted to ensure that lawmakers and the rest of the country got an earful of global warming issues. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the House to create a new committee to address energy issues, including global warming and fuel economy. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts is the chairman. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming sets up a confrontation, at least in drawing attention to the issue and helping set the political agenda, with Dingell's committee. Pelosi says Markey's committee won't have any legislative power but the intent is clear: get moving on climate and energy issues.
In an interview with David Roberts of Grist, Markey extols the virtues of boosting CAFE standards. He noted that the country's dependence on foreign oil dropped dramatically after President Ford signed the law mandating that automakers double their fuel economy. But he also noted the loopholes left for SUVs and trucks.

"So now, over the last 20 years, we've climbed from 27 percent dependence to 60 percent dependence on imported oil," said Markey.

Markey once introduced legislation that mandated 10mpg improvement over 10 years but Republication leadership kept it under wraps. Markey says his bill mandates fuel economy improvements while President Bush's plan allows the Department of Transportation to have full discretion over imposing fuel economy increases.

"From my perspective, the Bush administration imposes a mandate on American troops -- it says they have to be over in the Middle East. We need a similar mandate on the auto companies, so the costs of reducing our dependence on oil from the Middle East are placed back here, in the United States -- so that we all help fight this war, not just the Army and the Marines," says Markey.

Markey also has comments on cap-and-trade bills, carbon tax, coal and Al Gore. Interesting reading.

[Source: David Roberts / Grist]

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