Politico, 7 December 2010
By ROBIN BRAVENDER
Ralph Hall is poised to become the next chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee after fending off a challenge from California Republican Dana Rohrabacher.
Hall, 87, on Tuesday won the endorsement of the GOP panel tasked with selecting chairmen, a member of the steering committee told POLITICO. The recommendation will go before the full caucus Wednesday, but the vote is seen as little more than a formality.
At the helm of the Science Committee, Hall is expected to be at the forefront of GOP efforts to probe the Obama administration’s climate policies next year.
Hall told POLITICO in a recent interview he’s not a climate skeptic. “If they quote me correctly, I've never said it's outrageous to even think about global warming. I want some proof,” he said. “If I get the chair and have the gavel, I'm going to subpoena people from both sides and try to put them under oath and try to find out what the real facts are.
But he said he does want to question all sides of the issue, including the scientists at the center of the so-called “Climategate” controversy surrounding e-mails stolen from climate researchers last year in England. He said at a hearing last month that the documents exposed a “dishonest undercurrent” within the scientific community. Investigators in the United States and Britain have cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing.
Hall’s expected appointment as Science chairman will likely be seen as the lesser of two evils among proponents of efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
Both Hall and Rohrabacher have expressed doubts about the science linking manmade carbon dioxide emissions to global warming, but Rohrabacher is seen as a more aggressive skeptic than his Texas colleague.
“Dana would be out to disprove the theory,” said outgoing Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who is the current ranking member on the Science Energy and Environment Subcommittee. “Ralph would likely not ... be as animated in his pursuit of the destruction of climate science.”
Marc Morano, editor of the climate skeptic website Climate Depot and a former aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said Rohrabacher is the most aggressive skeptic in the House.
“Rohrabacher is probably the equivalent in the House to Sen. Inhofe in the Senate in terms of challenging global warming,” he said, adding that the California lawmaker was willing to challenge the science when it “wasn’t trendy” to do so.
Rohrabacher made headlines in 2007 for joking that dinosaur gas might be the cause behind global warming. “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past,” he said at a House hearing. “Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?”
But Rohrabacher campaigning on his aggressiveness wasn’t enough to unseat Hall, who has served in the House since 1981 and is adored by many of his colleagues.
Rep. Joe Barton, a fellow Texas Republican, described Hall last week as “one of the nicest, most decent guys in our caucus.”