Republican Rep. Ralph Hall joins House energy committee

Despite some post-election shuffles in membership, the all-powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee will still have plenty of Texas members during the next two years.

The latest Texan to join the panel is Republican Rep. Ralph Hall who, at 89, is the dean of the Lone Star State’s congressional delegation. Hall represents the Dallas/Fort Worth area and has spent the last two years wielding the gavel as chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee.

At the science committee, Hall used his chairmanship to study energy policy, promising energy research and development and related issues, including climate change.

The Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, has a much broader reach over a wide range of topics — so much so that a previous chairman of the panel was known for opining that the world map in his office represented his jurisdiction.

The Energy and Commerce Committee took the lead in investigating the Deepwater Horizon disaster on Capitol Hill. And while other panels oversee the Interior Department’s management of drilling on public lands and waters, the Energy and Commerce Committee frequently studies those issues too. It also has examined the domestic drilling boom and the hydraulic fracturing technology that is driving it.

At least five Texans will sit on the panel for the next two years, including Hall, as well as Democrat Gene Green of Houston and Republicans Joe Barton, Michael Burgess and Pete Olson. Democratic Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, who has been on the committee for years, did not run for reelection and is leaving Congress.

Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said the panel membership has a wide range of “experience and diverse backgrounds.”