Congressional Democrats’ energy priorities are a mixed bag

Not so fast with the celebrating. The soon-to-be head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John Dingell (D), has declared no interest in raising U.S. fuel-efficiency standards — he’s from Michigan, natch — and he’s a nuclear-power booster. The Dems’ rise could also lead to more offshore drilling; while dethroned Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) had refused, as House Resources Committee chair, to accept a compromise bill from the Senate, drilling advocates hope the new regime will pass the bill. Still, there are bright spots: Dingell hopes to close a drilling-lease loophole that has put billions of federal royalty dollars in oil-company pockets. He’ll also prioritize incentives for cars that run on biofuels, clean diesel, and electricity, and address the issue of storing radioactive waste. And in the Senate, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will take over the Environment and Public Works Committee from James Inhofe (R-Okla.), promising major policy shifts on global warming.