Henry Waxman, Green Energy and Technology Win First Fight of the New Congress
Even before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, House and Senate Democrats are making sweeping changes of their own, deposing old school chairmen on key technology committees. From energy policy to network neutrality, new chairmen Henry Waxman and Jay Rockefeller lean more tech than telecom, more Silicon Valley than Rust Belt. Hold the euphoria, though, as change often brings unexpected results.The winds of change are sweeping Washington even before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in Jan. 20, heralding new agenda priorities on a wide range of issues affecting technology, from climate change to health care reform to network neutrality. In the U.S. House, Democrats voted Nov. 20 to replace 82-year-old Rep. John Dingell-a powerful voice for Detroit automakers for more than 50 years-with outspoken energy and environmental advocate Rep. Henry Waxman of California as chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. In the Senate, Democrats are installing Sen. Jay Rockefeller, with health care reform and rural broadband access at the top of his agenda, as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology.
Both committees are where most technology- and energy-related legislation originate. Obama's campaign included mention of climate change, and he recently warned, "Delay is no longer an option" in forcing legislation through Congress to mitigate global warming and to lessen U.S. dependency on oil imports. The Silicon Valley widely supported Obama's climate change position not only for its environmental impact and energy savings but also as a potential catalyst for a green IT revolution that could spin off thousands of jobs.