Bad Astronomy

Energy and science in America are in big, big trouble

With the elections last week, the Republicans took over the House once again. The list of things this means is long and troubling, but the most troubling to me come in the forms of two Texas far-right Republicans: Congressmen Ralph Hall and Joe Barton.

TXRepRalphHallThe former, you may remember, tried to scuttle a science innovation and education bill by adding a rider to it making it illegal to pay the salaries of government employees who watch porn on work computers. When the bill finally passed, he then made incredibly hypocritical statements about the Democrats in order to scapegoat them.

Yeah, so that guy? He’s set to take over the House Committee on Science and Technology. Terrific.

joe_bartonThe latter, Joe Barton, is quite simply an embarrassment. He is most famous for apologizing to then BP President Tony Hayward for the government being mean to the oil company, after BP dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The havoc that leak unleashed is only just now coming to light. Congressman Barton also is a climate change denier, and went so far as to write a very misleading editorial in the Washington Post about it.

So yeah, of course he’s angling to be head of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Did I mention that Representative Barton has also received more money from the oil and gas industry than any other member of Congress? I’m sure that won’t interfere at all with any decisions he’ll have to make about the industry. It’s not like he would ever have to apologize again now is it?

It’s possible Barton won’t get the seat, since he’s been the Republican leader of the Committee for six years, the limit. The party will have to grant him a waiver for the seat, and even they are embarrassed by his apology to Hayward (note the source of that link). So we’ll see. But the others trying to get the seat are no better; all of them are climate change deniers.

And if you think I’m exaggerating – and oh, how I wish I were– there has already been talk on the Republican side of holding hearing to investigate “scientific fraud” of climate change. Mind you, these are people who still talk about Climategate as if it held any water, and wasn’t simply a hugely trumped-up attack with no real meat behind it.

I am not looking forward to the next two years. Maybe I’ll invest in an antacid company. I’m sure their stock’s about to rise.