11/20/2007 11:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What a Difference a Pombo Makes

Tracy, CA -- It's just a little over a year since the former Congressman from this town -- Richard Pombo -- was turned out by the voters and slunk, defeated, out of the Waterloo Cafe here without even thanking his followers. When Tracy elected Jerry McNerney as its Representative, it also transformed the leadership of the House Resources Committee. If you want to know how much of a difference an election can make, you should visit the Committee's website. The Committee is steadily, quietly, and methodically doing the public's business and protecting our public lands.

Gone are the days when the Committee's press people blustered forth with assaults on the Endangered Species Act, claims that thousands of frivolous environmental lawsuits were responsible for wildfires, and arguments that, if only we would drill the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, America's energy future would be secure.

Instead, we are seeing a resumption of environmental stewardship and progress. Enacted this week was a bill to restore the San Joaquin River; last week the Committee approved a bill to stop unfair competition in U.S. markets from illegally logged timber, one of the major threats to global biodiversity and forest preservation; the week before that, it steered through the full House a revolutionary bill to end the huge giveaway of public resources to mining companies under the utterly antiquated Mining Law of 1872.

Earlier in the year, the Committee passed strong legislation, still pending as part of the Congressional energy package, to ensure that energy leasing is conducted in a more environmentally responsible fashion. In short, it is doing what the American people want it to do -- taking care to preserve our wild heritage.

We owe a big debt to the voters of Tracy -- and to Jerry McNerney, who took on Richard Pombo when all the smart money said he was unbeatable.