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Enviromentalists win first round in Waxman-Dingell battle

WASHINGTON — In a major win for environmentalists, a committee of House Democratic leaders on Wednesday voted to put Rep. Henry Waxman in charge of a key panel that will have oversight over global warming issues in the new Congress.

The House Steering committee voted 25-22 to put the California Democrat in charge of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, replacing Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, the most senior member in the House.

The House Democratic caucus will vote on Thursday.

The Waxman-Dingell battle has been closely watched on Capitol Hill. Waxman is regarded as an ally of environmentalists while Dingell has ties to the auto industry. He has resisted higher fuel standards and tighter limits on greenhouse gases.

Dingell had called Waxman an "anti-manufacturing left-wing Democrat" and said it would be a mistake to have him in charge of the committee, particularly with the auto industry struggling.

If Waxman wins Thursday's vote, it means that two Californians will take leading roles in the debate over global warming. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is the head of the Senate's environmental committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue.

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