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Inhofe: I’ll chair Environment Committee

Climate change skeptic Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (R-Okla.), fresh off an easy reelection, said he will become chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“The Environment and Public Works Committee, which today is chaired by Barbara Boxer, will be chaired by me,” Inhofe said in a speech after his victory Tuesday night.

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Inhofe made the statement before Republicans had secured enough Senate seats to be in the majority. Since then, The Associated Press has projected the GOP will have at least 52 seats.

In his speech, he accused President Obama of being antagonistic toward oil, natural gas and coal.

“We could be totally [energy] independent in the state of Oklahoma and in the United States of America if we didn’t have Obama’s war on fossil fuels,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe is one of the most high-profile skeptics of climate change science in the Senate, having declared it a hoax years ago. Earlier Tuesday, he blasted a major United Nations report on climate change as “extreme,” and said it would “cripple” the economy.

He is a vocal critic of Obama’s and Democrats’ attempts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses that scientists agree cause climate change, and he compared the Environmental Protection Agency to the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany.

But he also has pushed back on other environmental policies, such as increased nuclear energy safety, efforts to fight ozone layer depletion and funding for cleanup of environmental contamination.

Inhofe chaired the panel, which also oversees some transportation infrastructure, from 2003 to 2007, where he worked to defend Bush administration environmental policies.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a staunch advocate for environment rules and efforts to cut greenhouse gasses, is the committee’s current chairwoman, a position she has held since 2007.

Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.) is currently the top Republican on the panel, and Inhofe is ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who holds seniority over Inhofe, has said he would like to lead the Armed Services panel.