Fred Upton Does an About-Face on Clean Energy, Environment

This LA Times article is an interesting take on Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, who seems to have foresaken his roots as a common-sense southwest Michigan representative and become yet another representative from Koch Industries.

Upton’s about-face illustrates how the tea party and its wealthy supporters, among them the Koch brothers, have stymied environmental agendas for improving air quality and public health both in his district and nationwide

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Though Upton remains unfailingly polite, he has gone on the attack, shepherding through the House a bill to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, he has removed the climate change language from his website, and plans to hold hearings reexamining the light bulb standard he had championed three years ago.

“From what I’ve seen, the old Upton who five, six, eight years ago would have been more moderate on votes and parted company with his party, that old Upton is gone,” said Bill Ballenger, editor of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics, who served in the Ford administration. “He’s got to prove to these people that he can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

What’s noteworthy is that Upton is a career moderate, one who hails from a state with a growing, vibrant cleantech sector.  Despite this, Upton of late has taken a sharply more ideological approach to his new job as Energy and Commerce Committee Chair. That would be fine, if Upton was actually being conservative by saving us money through deep, aggressive cuts in government welfare for dirty energy. Instead, he’s mostly tried to block commonsense air quality standards and threatened pro-clean energy policies that costs a fraction of the government handouts to dirty energy.  And not a word breathed about cutting the incredibly wasteful spending on dirty energy.

A gifted consensus builder and smart policy maker, Fred Upton has so far been an unapplied talent in this extremely influential position. That’s deeply unfortunate, at a time when the nation needs something so very different than what Congressman Upton’s been offering.

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