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Pete Cenedella

Pete Cenedella

Posted: November 20, 2008 11:10 AM

Feel the balance of power shifting in the American energy debate? Bye bye MIchigan, hello California: The House Democrats have finally cleared some old spare parts out of the way in anticipation of President Obama's agenda. Henry Waxman, a reliably progressive and sometimes pleasingly combative liberal from California has deposed John Dingell of Michigan at the helm of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Committee will play a major role in several key issues on Obama's to-do list: climate change, alternative energy development, retooling the American auto industry, and health care reform.

Rep. Dingell's three-decade reign has been characterized by his reliable support for the backward-looking lobbying efforts of the very auto industry giants who jetted in to DC with their hands out yesterday. It's not a stretch to say that the Big 3's woes, and their woeful appearance yesterday seeking a taxpayer handout, may have loomed large in Democrats' decision today to consign Dingell to the junkyard.

Waxman's work on the House Homeland Security Committee stands in stark contrast to stuffed-shirt Joe Lieberman's snoozy tenure on the Senate side. Waxman has aggressively gone after the Bush administration, while Joe the Senator has been running out the clock. With Waxman in place, several key aspects of Obama's agenda look to sail a little more smoothly (one wonders if the hand of Rahm Emanuel might not be at work behind the scenes on this).