Wednesday, December 08, 2010

MI Rep. Upton Selected Chairman Of Energy & Commerce

Dec 7: The House Republican Steering Committee selected Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) to be the next Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Upton will take over for under the Republican leadership [See WIMS 11/03/10] and replace the current Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA). Upton has served on the Energy and Commerce Committee since 1991, and currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Environment and Energy Subcommittee which is Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA). Chairman-elect Upton lost no time in setting a confrontational tone and issued the following statement upon learning of the Steering Committee vote.

    "I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy and the entire Republican Conference as we repeal Obamacare, fight rampant job-killing regulations, cut spending, and help put folks back to work. As our new majority pledged to America, 'We dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people.'

    "We face many challenges, but priority number one is to repeal the job-killing Obamacare law. While the various subcommittee posts will be filled in the days ahead, the fight to repeal Obamacare starts now and I am pleased to appoint Rep. Joe Pitts [R-PA]as chairman of the Health Subcommittee. Together, we will protect the sanctity of life, ensuring early next Congress that no federal funds are used for abortion. Energy and Commerce will also immediately adopt new rules to cut spending and restore fiscal responsibility.

    "If we have learned anything these last two years of soaring unemployment and out-of-control spending, it is that government is not the answer to all our ills -- it is, in fact, the root cause of many of them. The Obama administration is on notice -- they will not be allowed to regulate what they have been unable to legislate. In his January 1989 farewell address to the nation, my old boss President Ronald Reagan warned: 'As government expands, liberty contracts.' The American people spoke loud and clear on November 2nd, and we have a charge to stand up for liberty and deliver the real change that the American public expects and demands. We will not let them down."

    In a separate, December 7, memo to Republican Colleagues, Rep. Upton said, "Pelosi never listened to the American people and she never lived up to her promises. We will do both. We have a clear mandate to cut the size of government, reduce spending, and reverse costly job-killing regulations. . . The job-killing policies of Obama and Pelosi end here. . . I have always been and always will be one of the most loyal members of the team. . . It is about all of us together working as a cohesive unit to advance our ideals and our conservative agenda and lay the groundwork for victory in 2012. . . There are powerful forces working against us, pushing a liberal agenda that will do further damage to our economy. The American people not only rejected the Democrats' misguided vision for America, they also heard our message. . ."

    In the end, Rep. Upton was selected over the current Ranking Member of the full Committee, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). Rep. Barton who previously Chaired the Committee under previous Republican leadership, was nearly stripped of his Committee assignments for his widely publicized public apology to BP and his comments about being "ashamed" of the $20 billion oil spill claims fund agreement which the White House negotiated with BP. In comments before the Committee, Barton apologized to BP and called the agreement a "shakedown." [See WIMS 6/18/10].

    In his memo to colleagues, Rep. Upton included a number of his recent op-eds which he said will "give you a sense of my vision for the future." In one of his op-eds, printed in the Washington Times on October 20, Rep. Upton declared "War on the Regulatory State." [See WIMS 10/20/10]. He said Republicans would terminate what he called the "wasteful" Select Committee on Climate Change, established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and also Chaired by Rep. Markey. He said the Committee "has needlessly spent nearly $8 million in taxpayer money. . . "

    On December 6, Rep. Upton issued a release and op-ed, urging President Obama to ignore pleas from Senate Democrats to permanently block responsible drilling of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's (ANWR), vast reserves. Upton has been a longtime supporter of drilling in ANWR and supports an "all of the above" approach to fortify the nation's energy needs with American-made energy. 

    On December 3, Rep. Upton called on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide greater transparency as the Agency considers rules for cooling water intake structures at existing electric generation and manufacturing facilities. He said, "Given that this rulemaking has the potential to affect more than 400 power plants throughout the country and could impact energy supply and reliability, I am concerned about the direction of the proposal and its timing. The potential retrofit costs could be substantial ($200-300 million per unit for coal and $700 million to $1 billion for nuclear power plants) and some coal steam generators may not have the space necessary for the installation of cooling towers and other associated equipment. This could result in the retirement of some of these generators." He called on EPA to allow 180 days at minimum for the public to digest and prepare comments for a rule of this magnitude. 

    On December 1, Rep. Upton reacted to what he called "the Obama Administration's expanding its offshore drilling moratorium," i.e. the updated oil and gas leasing strategy for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) [See WIMS 12/1/10] saying, "They are cheering in the streets of Caracas and Tehran today over the administration's misguided offshore drilling moratorium." He said, "We are long overdue for a thoughtful, visionary energy policy that puts a premium on American-made energy. We need an 'all of the above' approach with offshore drilling right at the top. Let's stop punishing American workers - pursuing American-made energy will not only ensure our energy security, it will ensure our job security."
    In other recent releases and op-eds, Rep. Upton has called for EPA to stand down in its efforts to regulate coal combustion residuals (CCRs)"; called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to "remove the bureaucratic roadblocks that have delayed the administration's approval of the Keystone XL pipeline application"; asked Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain "Where Are the Jobs?" as a result of the administration's $800 billion stimulus package; called for a formal investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman's decision to delay a vote on the Department of Energy's legal authority to withdraw the license of the Yucca Mountain permanent nuclear waste repository in Nevada; and demanded answers from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about nearly $3 million in advertisements "promoting the health overhaul." 
   In his op-ed on "Declaring "War on the Regulatory State,"  Rep. Upton said, "No significant regulation should take effect until Congress has voted to approve it and the president has had an opportunity to approve or veto congressional action. Right now, these regulations are free to hide in the shadows of the Federal Register. By shedding additional light on the regulatory beast, we can keep government limited and accountable."
    Access Rep. Upton's release and memo to colleagues regarding his Chairmanship (click here). Access recent releases on various regulatory matters (click here). Access links to recent op-eds (click here).