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Incoming House Energy chair Fred Upton flip-flops: “I dont think we have to regulate carbon”

By Joe Romm on January 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

"Incoming House Energy chair Fred Upton flip-flops: “I dont think we have to regulate carbon”"

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Fox News of all places calls out Rep. Upton (R-MI) for his flip-flop, as ThinkProgress reports in this cross-post (with video):

ThinkProgress recently noted that Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who will take control of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, has dramatically changed his views on regulating carbon emissions over the past several months, evolving from a position that “[c]limate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions” in April 2009 to writing in the Wall Street Journal this week that he opposes any regulation of carbon emissions, and that if the EPA did so, it would be an “unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs.”

Noting Upton’s affiliation with a group “financed in part by oil companies,” Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Upton to explain why he has flipped on his views regarding carbon emissions:

WALLACE: In the article that you co-wrote with the head of Americans for Prosperity, which is a group that is financed in part by oil companies, you say this “” “This presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced.” But we checked, Congressman, on your congressional web site, and you say on the web site, “I strongly believe that everything must be on the table as we seek to reduce carbon emissions. Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.” So question, is carbon a problem or isn’t it? And if it is, if you’re going to kill the EPA regulation, what is your solution?

UPTON: We want to do this in a reasonable way. Before the end of the next decade, our country is going to need 30 to 40 more percent more electricity that we use today. So we need an all-of-the-above strategy. We need clean coal. We need natural gas. We need nuclear “” something that has not happened. We need a whole host of things.

WALLACE: Do we need to regulate carbon?

UPTON: I don’t think that we have to regulate carbon to the degree we have a carbon tax or you have a cap-and-trade system. And the House spoke pretty loudly “” you know, you take that same cap-and- trade bill that passed the House last year. Today it would lose by 50 votes and it could never come up in the Senate. This is not “” this regulation process is not the way to proceed.

Upton clearly sidesteps Wallace’s straightforward question: are carbon emissions a problem, as he’s previously said? Upton has received substantial campaign donations from Koch Industries, and serious Tea Party opposition for his energy chairmanship because of his previous truth-telling on carbon, so his reasons for avoiding that answer are clear.

What’s also clear is that Upton, as head of the powerful committee, is not going to treat carbon emissions as a problem at all. He rules out a cap-and-trade system and a “carbon tax,” and in the Wall Street Journal op-ed, opposes any EPA regulation of carbon, saying “we think the American consumer would prefer not to be skinned by Obama’s EPA.” Short of those measures, there’s no way carbon emissions will be controlled in the near future. Upton is not proposing any “serious solutions” to what he previously termed a “serious problem” “” a flip-flop even Fox News has noted.

– A TP cross-post

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8 Responses to Incoming House Energy chair Fred Upton flip-flops: “I dont think we have to regulate carbon”

  1. Wes Rolley says:

    There has never been a ceasefire in the Republican War on Science. Chris Mooney needs to revisit his book.

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course the most sinister possibility is that Upton still knows that CO2 emissions are deadly dangerous, and he refuses to answer the question because it would require him to lie, or state a truth at odds with his political financial ‘contributors’. I’m certain that a sub-set of political denialists are not straightforward ‘morons’ as Mark Twain might have called them, but deeply cynical opportunists who do not care what happens after they are dead (itself a possibly personally disastrous miscalculation, because the crisis is already upon us)and are willing to reap the rewards in power, ‘prestige’ and money now, and leave the catastrophe to their children to endure.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    For all of the Republicans’ habitual preaching and posturing, Upton’s new position shows cowardice and moral failure. The Democrats for some reason won’t make these arguments about what the opposition is actually up to. Maybe someone like Howard Dean or Bill McKibben will.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mike Roddy#3-if you want to know why the Democrats ‘mysteriously’ never attack the Repugnant Ones for their multitudinous misdemeanours, might I suggest that you get a copy of the great journalist Walter Karp’s ‘Indispensable Enemies’, where he outlines the decades of collusion between these two wings (both Right, which explains it aerodynamic failings)of the US one-party, the Party of Money, system.

  5. Dana says:

    Upton doesn’t support EPA regulation of carbon. Or a cap and trade system. Or a carbon tax. He talks about nuclear power, but where’s the money come from? Republicans keep talking about how our economic problems are due to overspending, so how does he propose we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new nuclear plants?

    Basically Upton wants to completely ignore the problem. Classic denial.

  6. catman306 says:

    I wonder if Gaia could order up a 17 inch overnight rainfall for the Washington DC area? Maybe that would get these morons attention.

    Joe, get a boat.

  7. Gerald Einem says:

    Perhaps if the progressives and President Obama(with veto threats)stand up to Upton and his anticlimate position calling it a threat to national security and our future prosperity,which it is,we can force some media attention on our impending climate disaster.We must stand against the”business as usual”crowd at every opportunity__there position is a paper tiger.

  8. Mike says:

    The WSJ op-ed is here for free:

    http://upton.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=218729

    Upton had another piece on energy I want to ask about. It is here:

    http://upton.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=216880

    In it he writes: “Astoundingly, huge percentages of additional U.S. oil resources remain off-limits to exploration. According to federal estimates, there is enough oil in deep waters many miles off our coasts and on federal lands to power more than 60 million cars for 60 years. In addition, if we advance the commercialization of the nation’s 2 trillion barrel oil shale resource, we could meet U.S. oil needs for more than two centuries.”

    I am guessing this is bunk, but I don’t follow energy news as closely as I should. Does anyone have specific info on the veracity of Upton’s claims? Maybe there needs to be an Energy Crock of the Week.