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News Notes
A look ahead at the 110th Congress

When Democrats won enough seats in the November mid-term elections to take over both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, they immediately began selecting their leaders and setting their agendas for the 110th Congress. Both House and Senate committee chairs are chosen primarily on the basis of seniority. Democrats have indicated that education and energy, such as reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and enhancing alternative energy resources, will be top priorities. Climate change will also likely be a big issue. Here’s a snapshot of what committee changes might affect the geosciences in the upcoming Congress, set to begin Jan. 4, 2007, and run through Jan. 3, 2009.

*Information compiled from,,, and

Committee Chair Stated Priorities

Environment and Public Works


Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

Climate change — Boxer already created two new subcommittees on climate change within this committee — as well as environmental protection and toughening standards for water and air quality

Energy and Natural Resources Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) Reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels by increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable technologies
Commerce, Science and Transportation Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) Support science, particularly ocean and earth sciences, and support offshore drilling in Alaska
Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Fund agricultural conservation practices and renewable energy, especially biofuels
Appropriations Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) Press for Climate Change Strategy and Technology Innovation Act
Budget Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) Energy efficiency, clean coal technology, biofuels and wind energy, as well as providing incentives to energy companies to increase domestic oil production
Committee Chair Stated Priorities

Energy and Commerce

John Dingell (D-Mich.)

Renewable energy, especially biofuels, and energy independence, also support Clean Air and Clean Water acts and conservation

Resources Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Conservation of public lands and wilderness, promote recreation areas, restore water resources, end offshore oil and gas royalty holidays, and address abandoned mines
Transportation and Infrastructure James Oberstar (D-Minn.) Pass the Water Resources Development Act and improve FEMA’s effectiveness
Science Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) Alternative fuel technologies, increase funding for science and engineering education and research programs
Appropriations David Obey (D-Wis.) Climate change, increase funding for energy research, development and conservation, education and competitiveness, and scientific research
Education and Workforce George Miller (D-Calif.) Increase funding for the No Child Left Behind Act, the Higher Education Act, competitiveness act, and research and development

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