US Congressman Lamar Smith has long expressed doubt that global warming is a man-made phenomenon, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that environmentalists are dismayed by news that Smith is likely to chair the Science, Space, and Technology committee for the upcoming 113th Congress. US House Speaker John Boehner has put forth recommendations of the House Republican Steering Committee as to who should lead the various committees, with Boehner naming Smith as his preferred pick for the all-important science/tech position. As the Huffington Post notes, Smith acknowledges a changing climate but has previously lambasted the media for pinning fault for global warming on human activity.
Should the GOP ratify Smith's nomination as is widely expected, it wouldn't mark the first time a skeptic has held the job. Outgoing chairman Rep. Ralph Hall expressed similar qualms about what many consider a clear-cut issue, once saying, "we have a lot of science that tells us they're not basing it [global warming] on real scientific facts."
Additionally, those following net neutrality will instantly recognize Rep. Smith as the author of the controversial, much-maligned Stop Online Piracy Act. Though SOPA legislation was ultimately tabled in response to fierce backlash, Smith's promotion to committee chairman could raise new concerns that he'll again attempt to address online piracy with similarly heavy-handed measures. It's expected that the House will vote in favor of Smith's new role today.