Rep. Upton has been heavily criticized for catering to special interests (especially to those donors who have made substantial contributions to his campaign). It’s also been shown that he is using bad information, misleading his constituents, and flip flopping on his previous positions.
Instead of addressing this criticism head on and providing leadership on policies that would help his constituents, he’s written an emotional OpEd that accuses environmental groups of being “divisive, shrill, disingenuous and inaccurate.” Notably, he chooses to use unnamed sources (“Some claim….”) in his criticism instead of citing credible sources.
Sadly, he also continues to say that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would bring ”100,000 jobs” even though he’s yet to cite his source, and the State Department estimates are dramatically lower. And he also fails to mention that the existing Keystone pipeline has already had 12 spills or leaks in the past year.
In his OpEd, Upton tries to label environmental groups as “special interests” even though these groups are working to protect the health of children against his unprecedented assaults on the Clean Air Act. Given that the majority of his constituents oppose his efforts, I guess you could say that we’re all specially interested in him doing the right thing.
There is an ongoing battle going on in Washington DC between the forces of clean vs. dirty.
On the side of dirty energy are the allies of the oil and gas industry, such as Representatives Upton, Whitfield and Barton. They’ve each received tens of thousands of dollars from dirty energy special interests, and have shown their willingness to cater to these industries (Barton apologized to BP after the Gulf oil spill and Upton has been championing an oil pipeline that will raise gas prices in his own district).
On the side of clean are the supporters of public health safeguards and clean energy. This includes groups like the American Lung Association, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the majority of the American public.
Right now, one of the major battles is around regulations on air pollution from power plants. You can probably guess the situation: the dirty utilities want to keep their polluting plants unchanged while most other people think they should have reasonable pollution controls in place. Many of the plants that would be impacted by the regulations were grandfathered in by the Clean Air Act, so they’ve been spewing pollution for more than forty years. We can’t allow this to continue. A 2010 report found that “pollution from coal-fired power plants that have failed to install pollution controls are costing businesses in affected states nearly $6 billion annually.” According to the EPA, putting safeguards in place will save anywhere from 31,000 to 53,000 lives a year.
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On Tuesday, the Washington Times published an Op-Ed by Representative Fred Upton (MI-6-R) that made false claims about the impact of government regulation on job growth and the economic recovery.
In the Op-Ed, Upton cited a recent study by McKinsey & Company‘s business and economics research arm. But Upton badly misrepresented the findings of the study, including cherry-picking one line about bureaucratic efficiency while obscuring the report’s overall conclusions.
In another embarrassing turn for Upton, his Op-Ed was published just days after the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released their yearly analysis of the costs and benefits of regulation which showed that regulations save more money than they cost.
The OMB study highlights the importance of EPA regulations, not just for our health, but for our economy. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, 32 major EPA rules together will yield estimated annual benefits between $82 billion and $551 billion in 2001 dollars, with annual costs in the $23-$29 billion range.
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Representative Fred Upton, Chairman of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has a choice every day: does he support oil companies and other special interests, or does he promote clean energy that will end our dependence on oil and improve our national security?
Unfortunately, most mornings he has been making the wrong choice.
Upton represents a district in Southwest Michigan, a part of the country that has been hard hit by the economic recession. But Michigan is making progress by investing in clean energy and related industries: Michigan currently ranks fourth in the country for jobs in the solar industry and has more than 200 companies working in wind or solar power. More than 10,000 people work in Michigan’s renewable energy sector, and a majority of those jobs have been created in the last five years.
What about Upton? He’s been championing an oil pipeline that would deliver tar sands oil from Canada to Texas. Not only would this pipeline raise gas prices in his district, it would benefit his special interest donors and companies that he holds stock in.
He’s also been working hard to undermine clean air safeguards that help protect public health, even misrepresenting his own proposed legislation .
It’s not surprising that the majority of Upton’s constituents do not support his work for special interests. As one constituent said: “It’s time for Upton to start representing Michigan, not Big Oil.”
As the chairman of a powerful House committee, Upton’s decisions have a real impact on the lives of millions of people. I just wished he could make the right ones.