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Not everyone is excited about the change, though. Mr. Waxman’s appointment is an omen of high energy prices ahead, said Myron Ebell, director of energy and global-warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public policy organization dedicated to limited government.

“This should provide a loud wake-up call to American business leaders that the 111th Congress is not going to play nicely with them on energy-rationing policies,” he said. “Chairman Waxman, who represents Beverly Hills, introduced a cap-and-trade bill in this Congress … that would dramatically raise energy prices for American consumers and producers.”

Although not everyone agrees on the solutions, it’s clear the challenges facing the next Congress are significant.

• Rosalie Westenskow is a correspondent for UPI.