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Heating Bills

Right after the mid-terms, I wrote a churlish little piece for TNR predicting that John Dingell, the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would pose an obstacle for Democrats trying to do something about global warming. That's partly because he's always been skeptical about emissions controls, especially on automobiles (hey, he represents Dearborn!). Anyway, now it seems Nancy Pelosi is also concerned about this:

One sign of the Democrats' determination to move on climate bills occurred when a Democratic Congressional aide confirmed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to create a special committee on climate, apparently an end run around Representative John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Dingell, through an aide, Jodi Seth, said Wednesday that such committees were "as relevant and useful as feathers on a fish."

Yikes. We'll see how this all shakes out. As far as I can tell, the new committee would have the power to subpoena and hold hearings, but wouldn't be involved in drafting legislation. So Dingell hasn't really been sidelined. I'd also like to know if this bit of turf-burglary makes him more or less inclined to help Pelosi push climate bills forward.

While we're on the topic, Dave Roberts of Grist has a nice little run-down of the various climate bills under consideration in the Senate. Note that Jeff Bingaman's plan to stabilize emissions is being flogged as the "centrist" bill, but as this New York Times chart shows, it doesn't come anywhere close to reducing U.S. emissions down to the levels necessary for the country to do its part to avert drastic climate change. The McCain-Lieberman- Obama bill does somewhat better. The only proposal that (nearly) reaches the targets, it seems, is Bernie Sanders' bill. I doubt that will get far, though it will at least make the McCain-Lieberman-Obama bill look moderate by comparison.

--Bradford Plumer