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Louie to the Rescue

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This is what awaits the American people if the Republican Party retains the majority in the House of Representatives in November. In line to succeed retiring Doc Hastings as chairman of arguably the most important environmental committee in the House is a member who has opposed national park expansion and supported gutting of endangered species protection.

The member in question is 60-year-old "shoot-from-the-hip" Louie Gohmert of Texas, and to characterize his ascendancy to the chairmanship of the House Natural Resources Committee as "putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop" is a gross understatement.

Hastings was no great shakes as head of the committee entrusted with caring for our public lands and the natural resources therein. But he pales in comparison to the ultra-conservative Gohmert, whose main claim to national fame has been the questioning of the legitimacy of President Obama's citizenship credentials.

If Gohmert were to inherit the gavel, the American people would be stuck with a guy who believes the public lands under the committee's jurisdiction are not welcoming enough to oil, gas, mining, and logging activity, which should be ratcheted up in a big way.

In Congress, Gohmert has been a leading spokesman for the energy industry in the promotion of fracking, a national gas extractive process for which the jury is still out regarding environmental concerns.

You have to wonder whether heading this committee would be the right place for Gohmert when he is on record declaring that "America's economy doesn't run on moonbeams and windmills. We need to harvest our own natural resources." Needless to say, Louie is a proponent of "drill, baby drill" on a wall-to-wall basis. He also has voted to defund a critical component of the Endangered Species Protection Act, prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, withhold money for a program to save the nation's besieged wild horse population, and deny federal subsidies to develop and distribute clean, renewable energy.

To top it off, he has argued that wildlife needs the radiated heat from oil pipelines to flourish in the wilderness, an interpretation to warm the cockles of any petroleum executive's heart.

Maybe the Republicans will lose the majority. Maybe Gohmert will opt for a position on another committee. Or maybe his party will decide to skip the natural order. But be forewarned, America, Louie in charge of overseeing the nation's natural resources is -- gasp -- a distinct possibility.