Eyeing the top spot on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Bob Smith (N.H.) yesterday dropped his flailing, independent bid for the presidency, paving the way for a return to the Republican party and a likely claim to succeed the late Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.) as chair of the committee. If Smith’s seniority on the committee as a Republican is not challenged, he is expected to edge out Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for the position. Enviros won’t be happy either way, since both men are staunch conservatives with miserable environmental voting records. Enviros regard Smith just slightly more favorably than Inhofe; “apocalypse soon as opposed to apocalypse now,” said Sierra Club Political Director Dan Weiss.