Big Recipient of Industry Money to Head House Energy Committee

With Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) retiring at the end of this year, the plum leadership spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is poised to go to Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), a true friend of the energy industry if ever there was one. Barton has received more campaign contributions from the energy sector than any other single House member — $1.6 million since 1989, when the Center for Responsive Politics began keeping records, the group said in a report this week. His biggest contributor in the current election cycle has been Anadarko Petroleum, a company that’s now drilling in Alaska, among other spots. As it so happens, Barton’s a big supporter of plans to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, and he’s a fan of President Bush’s energy bill, which is packed with perks for industry.