updated 5/7/2007 5:42:52 PM ET 2007-05-07T21:42:52

Rep. Edward Markey did not look happy.

The chairman of the newly formed House committee on global warming was presiding over a recent hearing — and getting an earful from Arizona Republican Rep. John Shadegg.

Shadegg complained that Markey had gaveled him down prematurely at a previous hearing as Shadegg zeroed in on some key testimony from a witness.

"I assumed he would not have intentionally cut me off, although the appearance was there," Shadegg said of the Malden Democrat.

Markey, appearing a bit exasperated, replied that Shadegg was cut off simply because he had kept talking beyond his allotted time.

In his new role as head of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Markey has been feeling heat from House Republicans — and even some powerful Democrats.

Republicans have accused Markey's panel of hyping the perils posed by global warming. Some Democratic committee chairmen, meanwhile, feared the creation of Markey's new committee this year would cut into their own turf.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed for a special committee on global warming to give Democrats a high-profile way to tackle an issue that has shot into greater prominence recently, partly owing to former Vice President Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

But Pelosi's decision to create the panel rankled some powerful Democratic committee chairmen, including Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, an ally of U.S. automakers who heads the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell is the House's senior member.

The chairmen were irked because their committees already had jurisdiction over energy independence and global warming issues. Some were already considering ways to combat greenhouse gas emissions and to ease the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Pelosi ended up denying Markey's committee the power to write bills. Instead, the panel will recommend solutions to other committees and try to get them to work together on legislation.

"Speaker Pelosi wants to keep this issue at a very high profile," said Markey in an interview with The Associated Press. "She wanted to create one committee that could look at all of the issues ... (and) put together a comprehensive way of looking at the problem."

Republicans have taken sharp aim at Markey's panel.

Earlier this year, Shadegg and some fellow GOP global warming committee members voted against forming the committee they serve on, Markey noted.

"They are here representing an extremely skeptical point of view that I think is very important for the debate," said Markey. "It is clear that there are still skeptics that will resist the kind of dramatic change that the science indicates is necessary to deal with the problem of global warming and the problem of energy independence."

Republicans fear that Markey and other Democrats eager to curb man-made sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could force energy costs even higher and cripple the nation's economy.

During the panel's first hearing, when Democrats cast global warming as a national security threat, Republicans scoffed at the claims as "hot air" and "extremism."

William Mayer, a Northeastern University political science professor, said he doubts any major legislation on global warming will become law during President Bush's tenure. While there's general support in the abstract, Mayer said, most people would balk at concrete solutions like driving smaller, slower cars.

"It's unlikely that anything all that significant is going to pass," Mayer said. "I think the Democrats, frankly, are more interested in having an issue than in getting a bill passed."

Markey's new chairmanship, though, could boost the congressman's political stock, Mayer added, with liberal groups for whom global warming is a hot issue.

"If it is a p.r. vehicle, well, it probably suits both Markey's and the Democratic Party's needs at the moment," Mayer said. "It will elevate the issue and it will give Markey a little bit of a platform. I don't think it's any great secret that he would love to move on to the Senate."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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