Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who was edged out as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a sort of parting gift has been named chairman emeritus of the panel.

The new title is largely an honorary one, but would give Barton -- who has been chairman and the ranking member of the House energy panel in the past -- access to all of the subcommittees. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) has been tapped as vice chair of the committee.

Earlier this month the House Republican Steering Committee tapped Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, bringing to a close a bitter power struggle for the top seat (see Daily GPI, Dec. 9). Upton beat out Barton, John Shimkus (R-IL) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

"I am...pleased that Joe Barton will continue his distinguished service on the committee as chairman emeritus," Upton said. Barton has been a member of the House energy panel for 24 of his 26 years in the House. He was picked as chairman in 2004 and then served two terms as ranking member. House rules -- which preclude someone from holding three consecutive terms as chairman or ranking member -- stood in his way (see Daily GPI, Nov. 12).

In addition, Upton announced that he is splitting the current Energy and Environment Subcommittee jurisdiction into two separate subcommittees -- Energy and Power, which will have jurisdiction over energy and Clean Air Act issues; and Environment and Economy, which will focus on environmental regulations and their economic impact.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) will chair the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, while Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) will be vice chair. Shimkus will chair the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) will be vice chair.

Stearns has been tapped as chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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