Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Congress, New Chairs of the Science Committees, Will this equal change?

Democrats won, and most often, democrats are for the environment... let's see who the new chairs are for science committees and then we will know if changes will be made...

Committee: Science
New chairman: Bart Gordon, Tennesse
He has publicly spoken about the failings of NASA and is very strongly against political meddling in the sciences and research. This is great news, as many top NOAA officials have been told to keep quiet about global warming for long enough, many fisheries scientists have anonomously spoken out about administration pressuring them to report data that supports Bush administration policies, etc. Hopefully this will all come to an end now.

Committee: Energy and Commerce
New chairman: John Dingell, Michigan
This committee covers many issues of scientific interest, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), energy policy and air pollution. This is the committee that said there is no global warming. Unfortunately, Dingell, despite being a democrat, is in bed with the auto industry from his home district of Detroit. He is against enforcing stricter fuel economy standards and usually sides with Republicans in his position on global warming.

Committee: Resources
New chairman: Nick Rahall, West Virginia
This committee is where a lot of environmental battles shape up, as it regulates extracting anything from the Earth that is worth money, including fish, trees, minerals, oil and gas. He is sympathetic to the coal mining industry, but he is favored over his Republican predecessor by many environmental groups. We shall see on this one.

Committee: Government Reform
New chairman: Henry Waxman, California
This committee is meant to keep an eye on the federal government. He wants to investigate the Bush administration record on science. "
In 2003, he put out a 33-page report charging the administration with manipulating science. More recently he has alleged that the government has muzzled scientists on climate change, interfered at the FDA over the Plan B emergency contraceptive and deleted a government grant for evolutionary biology from a federal education program. Expect hearings aplenty on the politicization of science." This is perhaps the biggest position, because he can expose the administration and its lies and general anti-science policy.

Committee: Agriculture
New chairman: Collin Peterson, Minnesota
This committee oversees funding for agricultural science. He comes from the cornbelt, and is extremely interested in ethanol as an alternative fuel source. This could be huge in our step to break our dependence on foreign oil.

Committee: Appropriations
New chairman: David Obey, Wisconsin
This committee may be the most powerful in the House, since it apportions out the money every year. Obey, a senior representative, is keeping mum about his priorities, but education and the environment are among his pet issues." This is huge, because much of scientific research is funded through state and federal grants. Researchers and families depend upon getting funding for research, and numerous budgets have been increasingly cut during the past 6 years.
All information is from

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