12/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rep. Dingell, Fuel Efficiency Obstacle, Implores Peers For Votes

The battle for chairmanship of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee has been heated, dividing Democrats in Congress. Rep. Henry Waxman of California is looking to unseat current Chairman Rep. John Dingell of Michigan.

The chairmanship is particularly important now, after the election of Barack Obama, who had made energy policy and "green jobs" a significant part of his presidential campaign. Dingell's chairmanship appears to be in greater danger than he once thought:

A vote on who will lead a committee key to writing any climate legislation could come as early as next week. With the vote on his chairmanship of the House John Dingell -- a longtime thorn in the side of efforts to require Detroit to focus on fuel efficiency -- is trying to whip up more support in his quest to beat back a challenge from California's Henry Waxman -- and attempting to use his proposed climate bill as collateral.

On Friday, Dingell sent a letter to the 152 members of the House Democratic caucus who signed the statement of principals for climate legislation that Waxman authored with Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). Dingell suggested that the climate bill he recently put out along with Rick Boucher (D-Va.) closely follows most of the principles.


Dingell's bill, however, leaves some policy questions open, including how state emission standards would be handled and how carbon credits would be allocated. It calls for emissions reductions of 80 percent by mid-century, but promises to provide "flexibility to emitters" by including cost-containment mechanisms, allowing polluting entities to meet a certain percentage of their reductions through offsets.

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