Henry Waxman

Henry Waxman.

New House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is planning some major changes to the organization of the subcommittees, notably creating a single subcommittee to oversee climate, energy, air quality, and water issues.

In a letter [PDF] to Democratic committee members on Tuesday, Waxman proposed combining the two subcommittees that currently oversee these issues, which are the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee and the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. In their stead, he calls for a single Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

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The Democratic caucus of the committee plans to meet on Thursday to discuss the reorganization, and the full committee could meet as early as Friday. “Because of the major legislation that the committee needs to consider this year, it is important that we organize the committee as early as we can,” Waxman wrote.

The change means that Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), who chaired the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, would likely lose his leadership post. Green was a supporter of John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longtime ranking Democrat on the committee whom Waxman ousted from the chairmanship in November.

Meanwhile, it’s still not clear who will chair the new committee. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), another Dingell ally, has chaired the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee for the past two years. But Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is the second-most-senior member of the committee, and can choose whether to chair the new Energy and Environment Subcommittee or remain the chair of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee. For the past two years, Markey has also chaired the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, and he aligns more closely with Waxman on energy and environmental issues.

Markey’s intentions aren’t yet known. “As far as I know, there’s still no final decision and we have nothing to announce right now,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, spokesperson for the select committee.

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