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Quick Hits: Pirates, Appointees, Alabama V. Detroit

A few energy and environmental stories from around the vast Internet:

* The House steering committee voted 25 to 22 in favor of Henry Waxman's bid to replace John Dingell as head of the energy and commerce committee. That's just the first hoop, though: Tomorrow the full Democratic caucus votes on the issue, and Dingell's allies insist that he can muster the votes to stay on.

* Both the Los Angeles Times and the Economist have commentary on the Somali pirates who, over the weekend, captured a Saudi Aramco tanker carrying two million barrels of oil worth nearly $100 million. Hijackings are on the rise, difficult to thwart (though here's one suggestion), and, the consensus seems to be, aren't going to cease until Somalia itself stabilizes and would-be pirates have other potential career paths.

* It's hard to keep track of all of the Bush administration's last-minute regulatory changes, but here are two big enviro-related ones. First, they're trying to fast-track rules governing oil-shale drilling in the West—one of the dirtiest energy sources around. (No, they're not giving the public a chance to weigh in, but thanks for asking.) Second, the political appointees who turned the Interior Department into the dysfunctional mess we all know and love are getting "burrowed" into civil-service slots so that Obama can't quite so easily kick them out.

* A new way to trap carbon-dioxide gas underground?

* Andrew Leonard explains why Richard Shelby and other southerners are opposed to bailing out the Big Three—Alabama, Shelby's home state, is rapidly becoming a major auto powerhouse in its own right, as companies like Hyundai and Honda have swung in and set up plants in the non-union state. The state exported $4.9 billion worth of motor vehicles in 2006—35 percent of the country's exports—and wouldn't necessarily mind seeing Detroit's auto dominance knocked down further.

--Bradford Plumer