Enviro Will Head House Energy Panel

Henry Waxman, D-Calif., voted to head House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Obama isn't even president yet, but promised changes to help combat global warming are already happening: Henry Waxman, a Democratic representative from California, has replaced Rep. John Dingell of Michigan as head of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The influential panel has a major say on decisions affecting the environment and energy industries, and Waxman could help push through Obama's climate change initiatves in 2009.

Waxman, described as a "committed environmentalist," will likely serve in sharp contrast to Fingell, who served on the committee for 28 years and bore strong ties to the auto industry. He often clashed with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on environmental matters. Said Waxman before winning his seat:

“I am running for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee because we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance health care, achieve energy independence and tackle climate change,” he said in a statement. “These are difficult and contentious issues, and I believe I can provide effective leadership so that Congress and the new administration working together can deliver results for the American people.”

In addition to helping sponsor Obama's future climate-change initiatives, Waxman will likely also help with other energy and health care issues.

To read up on Obama's environmental plans, check out BACKPACKER's interview with the then-candidate. You can probably skip over the McCain parts.

—Ted Alvarez

Longtime Head of House Energy Panel Is Ousted (NY Times)