New York Times Profiles John Dingell

By July 21, 2007Energy, Global Warming

A pretty good piece in today’s New York Times profiling Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. To be sure, it’s the usual old storyline: Old-guard chairman insists on traditional political prerogatives, now running up against the push by younger House Democrats — younger being a relative term — to impose new government controls over the economy to halt supposed man-made global warming.

When Ms. Pelosi created a new committee on energy independence and global warming in January, Mr. Dingell attacked it as a potential encroachment on his turf. Though Ms. Pelosi assured him the new panel would have no legislative authority, he scornfully remarked that it would be “as useful as feathers on a fish.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Dingell fumes that Ms. Pelosi and other comparatively young House leaders are trying to dictate his schedule and his priorities. He grumbles about colleagues who are too “ideological,” too impatient and too unrealistic about the costs of slowing global warming. He implies that Ms. Pelosi cares more about being “green” in California than about blue-collar workers in Michigan.

Note that last sentence. It’s the only reference, implicit or otherwise, in the entire story to Dingell’s desire to represent his constituents — an important consideration often omitted from these profiles of the chairman. We have no doubt that Dingell’s insistence on balance and caution and minimizing harm to the automobile industry reflects the views of a majority of constituents. Reporters would do well to make note of that fact.

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  • It is certainly good to note the importance of Representatives representing their constituencies — however, the misnomers that Michigan citizens are pro auto and therefore anti global warming solutions is simply not true.

    I am a Greenpeace organizer working in Dingell’s district on global warming. I have spoken to more than 3,000 of his constituents and can tell you – in good faith – the people of Michigan are concerned about global warming. Here in Michigan we are already feeling the effects of global warming with more intense heat waves, more severe storms, and decreasing snow and ice pack which is putting our winter tourism industries at risk.

    I have spoken to many UAW members who are concerned for their jobs and the industry, yes, and are often longtime Dingell devotees, but who are also deeply concerned for the environment and preserving their way of life in Michigan.

    Protecting American industry, boosting the economy, and insuring global warming solutions are not mutually exclusive. Investing in global warming solutions could provide close to 5,000 jobs for people here in Michigan and save them billions by investing in renewable energy .
    (source: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/clean_energy_policies/cashing-in.html)

    Using the “people of Michigan” as a scapegoat for passing weak or destructive environmental policy is not only a misrepresentation of constituent motives, but is also a dirty tactic used to pursue the Representative’s personal motives.

    Perhaps it would be appropriate to mention Dingell’s investments in auto – his wife, Debbie who sits on the Foundation of GM and the more than $1 million the family holds in assets from GM as well.

    The people of Michigan want to protect our future from global warming. They want to continue to plant their staple crops – asparagus, cherries, maple. Yes, we want jobs – but not at the cost of our future.

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