At a campaign event in Louisiana a few weeks ago, Sen. David Vitter told his constituents that there was a "very good chance" of him becoming the top Republican on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee next year. One person this may have been news to is Sen. James Inhofe, the current ranking Republican on the committee. Sen. George Voinovich, who ranks between Inhofe and Vitter, is retiring, but Inhofe has a couple of years before he'll term out of his ranking position.
Vitter's office did not respond to a request for comment, and he's apparently been stonewalling other members of the media as well. Politics of the switch aside, though, how would a Vitter-led Republican EPW caucus differ from Inhofe's? The question is especially pressing since the committee's ranking Republican would replace Sen. Barbara Boxer as committee chair were the Senate majority to switch after November.
Inhofe has used his EPW pulpit to broadcast his belief that climate change is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." In February, he playfully poked fun at climate activists after an epic snowstorm in Washington by circulating a photo of an igloo his grandchildren had built and labeled "Al Gore's New Home." Needless to say, members of the environmental community did not find the gesture very amusing and consider Inhofe to be one of the biggest obstacles to comprehensive climate legislation on the Hill.