A Democratic lawmaker who made science a central part of his campaign received a spot on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) announced Jan. 22.

Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), a renewable energy engineer-turned-businessman before his entrance to politics, ran on a platform that called for closing a sterilization facility for medical, pharmaceutical, and food production devices. The plant emits ethylene oxide, a chemical the Environmental Protection Agency classified as carcinogenic to humans.

Casten defeated Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in Illinois’ Chicago-area 6th Congressional District.

In office, Casten has continued to challenge President Donald Trump’s views on climate change, calling a recent tweet in which the president joked about global warming “scientifically inane.”

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee picked 14 new members for the committee, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). Eight of those are serving their first term in Congress.

Different Direction

Democrats are set to take the committee in a very different direction than under the control of Republicans.

Former House Science Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who retired at the end of last year, used his perch to hold hearings that questioned mainstream climate change science and challenged health and scientific regulations under President Barack Obama.

The committee’s new Democratic members are: Reps. Don Beyer (Va.); Casten; Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (Texas); Bill Foster (Ill.); Katie Hill (Calif.); Kendra Horn (Okla.); Ben McAdams (Utah); Jerry McNerney (Calif.); Ed Perlmutter (Colo.); Brad Sherman (Calif.); Mikie Sherrill (N.J.); Haley Stevens (Mich.); Paul Tonko (N.Y.); and Jennifer Wexton (Va.).