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The Waxman cometh

November 24th, 2008
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Oil and gas, Power
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An early holiday note to the US energy industry:
Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  The Waxman cometh.

Perhaps that should really be a belated Halloween note, for Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s seizure of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship from Rep. John D. Dingell should strike terror into the hearts of the petroleum and power industries. Not to mention the auto industry or anyone still clinging to the quaint notion that energy costs won’t eventually spike under new regimes in Congress and the White House.

Dingell (D-Mich.) hasn’t exactly been the energy industry’s best friend, but over the years his stalwart defense of the auto industry has occasionally put him in the good graces of the oil industry, given the two industries’ interconnected fates.

That stance often brought Dingell into direct conflict with Waxman (D-Calif.), ranked No. 2 on the most powerful Congressional committee and an often abrasive and fiercely liberal advocate of onerous legislation promoting radical changes in transportation and fuel use. The two have often clashed on energy and environmental issues.

Most recently, Dingell and Waxman have had dueling bills on climate change that would have had dramatically different impacts on industry. Waxman has been trying to insert language into House energy bills imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions for nearly two decades. Dingell typically has resisted his colleague’s inclinations to inflict greater pain on the auto and energy industries than would be healthy for Detroit.

Waxman’s favorite tool of garnering support from his main constituency—the wealthy elite of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Malibu—has been to round up the latest group of those in business and industry that he deems scalawags for heavily televised hearings and submit them to Torquemadesque grilling with questions along the lines of “Have you stopped beating your wife, sir?”

Here’s a prediction: Once this excruciating economic downturn is behind us and resurgent demand and crimped supply cause energy prices to spike again, the most widely watched reality show on television will be Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman’s weekly roasting of oil and energy utility executives on C-SPAN.

Will a pragmatic President Obama or centrist Democrats in Congress hold the favorite pitbull of Hollywood’s political elite at bay?  Don’t count on it. The Obama transition team announced last week that Waxman’s chief of staff, Philip Schiliro, will be White House director of Congressional relations. Gee, I wonder who’ll top his speed dial list.

The same day that Dingell was ousted, the mayors of three California cities—San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose—announced plans for a $1 billion electric car-charging network. Funny coincidence: All three are in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district.

And now President-elect Obama says his earlier, $175 billion plan to stimulate the economy will cost more and span two years instead of the original one. The core of the plan is to create 2.5 million jobs, many of them in the field of alternative energy. Obama earlier spoke of creating 5 million such “green” jobs, but not necessarily as part of an economic stimulus package. Now those green jobs will factor into economic stimulus as well. Obama also has proposed a “windfall” profits tax on oil companies, along with auctioning off carbon credits under an emissions cap-and-trade program to fund his alternative energy ambitions. And Waxman is likely to be Obama’s point man in Congress to fashion such legislation.

Picture a televised Chairman Waxman breathing fire and raining brimstone on the heads of oil companies, utilities, and automakers stretched on the rack, inveighing against the greedy, bloated captains of industry not just for their intransigence in blocking energy and environmental progress but also the creation of jobs.

See where this is going? Now it won’t just be a case of the left demonizing fossil energy producers in name of hindering energy security and sustainability. The fossil energy industry will also be blamed for crippling economic recovery. Congratulations, you have a trifecta.

The locomotive is roaring down the tracks.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.


 

An early holiday note to the US energy industry:

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  The Waxman cometh.

 

Perhaps that should really be a belated Halloween note, for Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s seizure of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship from Rep. John D. Dingell should strike terror into the hearts of the petroleum and power industries. Not to mention the auto industry or anyone still clinging to the quaint notion that energy costs won’t eventually spike under new regimes in Congress and the White House.

 

Dingell (D-Mich.) hasn’t exactly been the energy industry’s best friend, but over the years his stalwart defense of the auto industry has occasionally put him in the good graces of the oil industry, given the two industries’ interconnected fates.

 

That stance often brought Dingell into direct conflict with Waxman (D-Calif.), ranked No. 2 on the most powerful Congressional committee and an often abrasive and fiercely liberal advocate of onerous legislation promoting radical changes in transportation and fuel use. The two have often clashed on energy and environmental issues.

 

Most recently, Dingell and Waxman have had dueling bills on climate change that would have had dramatically different impacts on industry. Waxman has been trying to insert language into House energy bills imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions for nearly two decades. Dingell typically has resisted his colleague’s inclinations to inflict greater pain on the auto and energy industries than would be healthy for Detroit.

 

Waxman’s favorite tool of garnering support from his main constituency—the wealthy elite of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Malibu—has been to round up the latest group of those in business and industry that he deems scalawags for heavily televised hearings and submit them to Torquemadesque grilling with questions along the lines of “Have you stopped beating your wife, sir?”

 

Here’s a prediction: Once this excruciating economic downturn is behind us and resurgent demand and crimped supply cause energy prices to spike again, the most widely watched reality show on television will be Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman’s weekly roasting of oil and energy utility executives on C-
SPAN.

 

Will a pragmatic President Obama or centrist Democrats in Congress hold the favorite pitbull of Hollywood’s political elite at bay?  Don’t count on it. The Obama transition team announced last week that Waxman’s chief of staff, Philip Schiliro, will be White House director of Congressional relations. Gee, I wonder who’ll top his speed dial list.

 

The same day that Dingell was ousted, the mayors of three California cities—San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose—announced plans for a $1 billion electric car-charging network. Funny coincidence: All three are in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district.

 

And now President-elect Obama says his earlier, $175 billion plan to stimulate the economy will cost more and span two years instead of the original one. The core of the plan is to create 2.5 million jobs, many of them in the field of alternative energy. Obama earlier spoke of creating 5 million such “green” jobs, but not necessarily as part of an economic stimulus package. Now those green jobs will factor into economic stimulus as well. Obama also has proposed a “windfall” profits tax on oil companies, along with auctioning off carbon credits under an emissions cap-and-trade program to fund his alternative energy ambitions. And Waxman is likely to be Obama’s point man in Congress to fashion such legislation.

 

Picture a televised Chairman Waxman breathing fire and raining brimstone on the heads of oil companies, utilities, and automakers stretched on the rack, inveighing against the greedy, bloated captains of industry not just for their intransigence in blocking energy and environmental progress but also the creation of jobs.

 

See where this is going? Now it won’t just be a case of the left demonizing fossil energy producers in name of hindering energy security and sustainability. The fossil energy industry will also be blamed for crippling economic recovery. Congratulations, you have a trifecta.

 

The locomotive is roaring down the tracks.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.< –>

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