Mr. Smith Stays in Washington
In a move that worries enviros, Sen. Bob Smith, a New Hampshire conservative who recently bolted the GOP, then rejoined it on Monday, was elected yesterday by Senate Republicans to be chair of the important Environment and Public Works Committee. The position had been held by Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.) until his death last month. Chafee was widely viewed as an ally of the environmental community, while Smith is considered a friend of the oil industry, chemical companies, and developers. Smith said yesterday that he aims to reduce the federal government’s role in environmental protection, while giving more power to businesses and local governments. In the past, Smith has supported revising the Superfund program to shift the cost of toxic waste cleanups away from polluters and onto taxpayers. Meanwhile, John Chafee’s son, Lincoln Chafee, was named to fill his father’s Senate seat until elections next year. The younger Chafee said he shares his dad’s moderate “pro-environment” stance.