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Some concerned Upton might target EPA as member of debt supercommittee

Environmental groups are concerned that the appointment of Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to the supercommittee that will decide how to reduce the federal debt will give him another platform to attack the EPA.

The LA Times reports:

Michigan Republican Fred Upton has established his credentials as an adversary of environmental regulation during his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. So his appointment to the “super committee” charged with working out cuts to address the nation’s budget deficit is certain to raise eyebrows among environmentalists.

Upton has shepherded a bill to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases, which a Supreme Court decision said was the purview of the agency. Once a champion of banning incandescent light bulbs, he has promised to hold hearings to reexamine the light bulb standard. His committee has held several climate-change hearings that were heavily skewed toward marginalized skeptics of the consensus scientific view that human activity is warming the planet and altering the climate.

Upton also received $20,000 in donations from employees of the David and Charles Koch oil conglomerate in 2010, making them among his top 10 donors in that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The billionaire oilmen have been major donors to the campaign to cast doubt on climate change.

Some environmental leaders voiced their concerns to The Hill:

“Congressman Upton has sided with Big Oil at every opportunity during the 112th Congress, voting to protect their unnecessary subsidies while working to block the EPA’s ability to hold these corporate polluters accountable,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement.

“With the economic future of the nation hanging in the balance, we hope he will not let his loyal campaign contributors sway him from allowing these exorbitant taxpayer handouts to be ended once and for all.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he doesn’t think Upton will use that position to push an anti-environment agenda:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) isn’t worried that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will try to hobble key Obama administration environmental regulations as part of a looming fight over deficit reduction…

“I don’t think that Congressman Upton should be a problem on the committee,” Reid told reporters on a conference call Wednesday when asked what Democrats will do if the lawmaker targets the EPA.

Reid called on Republicans to compromise with Democrats on the committee, urging the GOP to reject proposals that target the EPA.

“I think these message pieces of legislation that deal with EPA, we should just forget about it and do things that create jobs for our country,” Reid said.

That may be wishful thinking.

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