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.
This afternoon, Upton scrubbed his website of the quote Wallace highlighted: “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.” The new version is here, and the cached version is here.