April 18th, 2007

“Dennis the Menace” – House Environmental Regulation

Check out the above clip of House Environmental Regulation Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen “questioning” Jim Marston, Texas Director for Environmental Defense, on Rep. Mark Strama’s “Clean Car” bill. This sort of bullying-from-the-Chair tactics are already legendary to environmental advocates. He’s even done it to constituents and citizens who’ve driven to Austin, waited all day to testify, and then had the nerve … the nerve! … to disagree with industry’s perspective. It appears others have also noticed the Chairman’s less than friendly attitude. Check out these two recent stories on the matter from the Austin American Statesman and Texas Observer.

No one expects a Craddick-appointed Chair of Environmental Regulations to be a huge friend to the conservation community’s agenda. That’s not why he got the job. It’s no surprise to anyone that he carries water for the Chemical Council, let’s good environmental bills die a lonely death in his committee, and fights any amendments on the floor that might …gasp … further regulate our already “overly-regulated” industries. But what is surprising, shocking, and disturbing, is the hostility and venom he spews.

O.K., Chairman, we get it. You disagree. But let’s at least have an exchange of ideas, a civil disagreement, a healthy debate even. That’s what it was like with the former Chairman, Warren Chisum. You didn’t expect much more out of Chisum in the form of good bills from his committee, but you were treated with respect, he listened to testimony, and on rare occasions, he changed his mind. Instead, we’ve got Dennis the Menace. As one anonymous House Member said after witnessing a Bonnen committee tirade, “Geez, what is wrong with that guy? He must have gotten his *ss-kicked a lot on the playground, or something.”

And that pretty much sums it up. A playground bully masqeurading as Committee Chair.