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Joseph Linus "Joe" Barton (born September 15, 1949) is a Republican, representing the Texas Sixth Congressional District (map) in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1985.
Barton was born in Waco, Texas, and graduated from Waco High School. He attended Texas A&M University in College Station and received a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1972. An M.Sc. in industrial administration from Purdue University followed in 1973. Following college Barton entered private industry until 1981 when he became a White House Fellow and served under Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards. Later, he began consulting for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Co. before being elected to Congress in 1984.
Barton was elected to represent Texas's Sixth Congressional seat in his first attempt, defeating Democratic challenger Dan Kubiak with 56 percent of the vote in a contest to succeed Phil Gramm, who left his seat to run for the United States Senate that year. He received 88 percent of the vote in 2000, 71 percent of the vote in 2002 against Democratic challenger Felix Alvarado, and 66 percent of the vote in 2004 against Democratic challenger Morris Meyer.
In 1993, Barton ran in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Lloyd Bentsen, who became secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration. Barton finished third in the contest and missed a runoff slot.
Congressman Barton is the chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee.
Rep. Barton has been regarded as a "skeptic" on global warming  and his opposition to addressing global warming has been consistent and long-term. As a powerful chairman with primary responsibility over the energy sector, Barton has consistently acted over the years to prevent congressional action on global warming. In 2001, Barton declared, "as long as I am chairman, (regulating global warming pollution) is off the table indefinitely. I don't want there to be any uncertainty about that." Barton led opposition to amendments that would have recognized global warming during consideration of the Energy Advancement and Conservation Act in 2001, opposing an amendment to require the President to develop and implement a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels as called for by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the U.S. is a party to.. In 2003, Barton again opposed amendments that would have recognized global warming during consideration of the National Energy Policy Act of 2003, opposing a nonbinding amendment that would have put Congress on record as saying that the U.S. should "demonstrate international leadership and responsibility in reducing the health, environmental, and economic risks posed by climate change." In July 2003, Barton offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to remove language that recognized global warming and called on President Bush to reengage with the international community to find solutions. In addition, Barton has consistently opposed proposals to reduce the nation's dependence on oil â?? a chief contributor to global warming.
Recently, prompted by a February 2005 Wall Street Journal article , he has launched an investigation into two climate change studies from 1998 and 1999. This has been widely regarded as an attack on the scientists rather than a serious attempt to understand the science  , although some view it as a normal exercise of the committee's responsibility and an effort to make possible scientific debate on a subject within its jurisdiction  . The Washington Post condemned Barton's investigation as a witch hunt. The Houston Chronicle said that Barton was harassing researchers. The National Academy of Sciences referred to Barton's investigation as potentially "intimidating" to researchers. After Barton began his inquiry, the science journal Environmental Science & Technology launched an investigation into the issue. It was discovered that The Wall Street Journal article that started Barton's inquiry had based its story on research performed by a mining executive. The story by Environmental Science & Technology also reported on an obscure policy journal often cited by politicians, including Barton, as scientific proof that global warming science is wrong.  See also Barton's own response to this controversy in the Dallas Morning News  (registration may be required). The dispute expanded with Sherwood Boehlert's House Science Committee taking a strong interest 
A hearing was held by Barton's Energy and Commerce Committee on July 19, 2006, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, where several skeptics testified regarding the hockey stick graph. The RealClimate blog was mentioned at the hearing, and they responded at 
A member of the Republican Study Committee, which promotes "the preservation of traditional family values", Barton divorced his first wife, the former Janet Sue Winslow, with whom he has three children, in 2003. Janet received some media attention as a victim of identity theft. Barton has used her as an example when discussing identity theft legislation. He is now married to Terri Barton, and they have one child, Jack, who was born in 2005.
Barton's office announced that, on Thursday December 15, 2005, he suffered a heart attack and was taken to George Washington University Hospital.
On September 26, 2005, Barton introduced the Gasoline for America's Security Act 2005, to the House of Representatives in what he said was a response to the present energy crisis. The most significant part of the bill gave the authority for the government to subsidize the construction of new refineries for petrochemical companies, despite the fact that the oil companies had intentionally been closing down refineries for years prior to the hurricanes. It would allow for oil companies to construct refineries on military bases and government controlled areas offshore. The bill also included a clause in which several environmental restrictions on the oil companies would be repealed
The bill passed by two votes on October 7, 2005, with a narrow 212-210 vote. The bill, which was supposed to be open for vote for only five minutes, was held on the floor for 90 minutes, to the chagrin of Democrats who chanted "Shame!Shame!"
During that time, the Washington Post reported that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex) twisted the arms of moderate Republicans who were originally opposed to the legislation, ultimately convincing them to vote for the bill. Environmentalists and their allies from both parties argued that the country could not stand any relaxation of the Clean Air Act.
The critics argued in a year when oil companies were getting ready to announce industry-record profits, and since they were the ones who were shutting down the refineries just four years earlier, shouldn't they be the ones paying for the construction of new refineries.
From 1995 to 2001, American oil companies shut down 24 oil refineries along the West Coast. Gas prices in the mid-1990s were low -- too low for the likes of the oil companies. Refineries were operating efficiently, producing large quantities of gasoline and therefore cheapening the cost of gas at the pump.
According to opensecrets.org, a watchdog group that monitors monetary contributions to politicians, Barton alone has received close to $2 million in campaign contributions from energy companies and their political action committees since he has been in office. The oil and gas industry has been the top industry contributor to his campaign. This does not include contributions from individuals who work for petrochemical companies, though. Last year, employees from Anadarko Petroleum alone, contributed $50,000, opensecrets.org reports.
The New Republic magazine has called Barton a "Big Oil lackey." According to TNR writer Michael Crowley, "Barton champions a pro-industry agenda with no apparent concern for appearances. Just two months after [the Gasoline for America's Security Act], he exploited concerns over energy supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to jam through still more energy subsidies, ease environmental regulations on refineries, and press for more offshore oil and gas drilling." *
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Barton was one of only 11 House members to vote against the Hurricane Katrina Emergency Relief bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on September 8, 2005. This came one day after he told Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour that "Whatever you need from the federal government... we'll do everything we can to make it happen sooner rather than later and bigger rather than smaller."
In Fall 2006, Barton refused to release the Combating Autism Act from House subcommittee despite the unanimous passage by Senate.
Barton defeated Iraq War Veteran Dave Harris in 2006.
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