Could a Coal-n-Highways Dem Take Oberstar’s Place on Transpo Committee?

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) is reportedly angling for the top Democratic seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House. Had Jim Oberstar survived the election, he would have given up the chair and become the ranking member.

Nick Rahall (left) is throwing his hat in the ring for top Dem on T & I. Image: ##http://www.rahall.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=36##Nick Rahall#

Nick Rahall (left) is throwing his hat in the ring for top Dem on T & I. Image: Nick Rahall

Rahall is next in line for the seat, and, as The Hill is reporting, he’s ready to leave the top spot on the Natural Resources Committee to focus on Transportation and Infrastructure.

That could be good news for the Natural Resources Committee – Rahall represents coal country, and his support for coal has stifled attempts to regulate it or shift to cleaner energy sources. Just last month, he likened regulation of the coal industry to a terrorist threat.

Next in line to be top Dem on that committee is 81-year-old Dale Kildee (MI). But The Hill notes that the person most interested in the job could be Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who’s taken a lead role in crafting climate legislation.

But back to T & I.  Rahall hasn’t made his bid official yet, though his spokesperson says he will soon. What kind of ranking member would he be? Hard to say, but check out his website’s issue page on Transportation. It’s got three bullet points: highways, water, and broadband. Mass transit? Pedestrian safety? Bike infrastructure? Not big issues in southern West Virginia.

Right after Rahall in the T & I ranking is Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who’s been a livability champion, a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and a transit supporter.

Democratic leadership makes the call on committee assignments. It’s not clear whether that will happen during the lame duck next week or when the session begins in January.