What does Waxman mean for us?

In a rather big victory for progressives (or liberals, if you prefer), House Democrats Thursday voted 137-122 to make Rep. Henry Waxman chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, instead of re-appointing Rep. John Dingell Jr. to the post.

Waxman, whose California district includes Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica and large sections of Los Angeles, is generally regarded as friendlier to energy policy reforms like limiting greenhouse gas emissions and raising fuel efficiency standards than Dingell, who represents a large swath of west suburban Detroit, and Ann Arbor, Mich., and has come to be seen by many progressives as too beholden to the auto industry.

But Waxman has a mixed record on public transit. He blocked federal funding for tunneling for LA’s Red Line subway for 20 years (from 1985 until 2005-06), over concerns about the safety of tunneling after a methane gas explosion.

A quick Google search didn’t turn up much on Waxman and new urbanist concerns like linking land and transportation planning, sustainability, and VMT reduction. And Waxman’s web site doesn’t list these topics on the Issues and Legislation page.

So, how will this Congressional leadership change affect CNU and the broader Transportation for America coalition’s work toward reforming the federal government’s transportation, land use, and sustainability policies? Granted, we couldn't get much worse, but as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will Henry Waxman be a net positive for us, or not make much of a difference?

What do you think?


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