Chairman Fred Gets an Earful

It might be Representative Fred Upton’s (R-MI) week off but he’s not slowing down, especially when trying to turn back the clock on clean air.

Last week a key U.S. House subcommittee voted in favor of his bill to allow power plants and other industrial polluters to dump unlimited carbon pollution into the air we breathe. The bill - which I like to call the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011 – will see more congressional action when the House reconvenes after recess.

Until his return to Washington next week, Upton is spending his free time back home in Michigan with the people who put him in office. Today kick-starts his whopping 18-stop listening tour in Kalamazoo that will continue throughout the week at various locations within his district. This is the perfect opportunity for members of his district to voice their concern and stand up for the health of our families and communities.

So how is Chairman Upton doing back home with his attack on the EPA and clean air?    

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported that it ain’t no love fest:

And he defended his bill on carbon regulation by saying that he didn't seek to undermine the Clean Air Act. He said he believes Congress should decide regulations, not the EPA.

Mark Miller, a Kalamazoo Township trustee, asked Upton how he could dispute scientific consensus that agrees climate change is real and humans are causing it by burning fossil fuels.

Upton, who at one time said he believed climate change was a real problem and all solutions should be on the table, has more recently said he's not convinced humans are responsible.

The headline of an earlier story read  “U.S. Rep. Fred Upton defends positions on environmental issues during Portage stop”:

Upton also defended his positions on the environment, especially against criticism over a bill he sponsored that would prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emission from power plants and refineries. Carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is a major contributor to global climate change.

"It doesn't undermine the Clean Air Act," Upton said of his bill. "We won't let them regulate what they can't legislate."

While one audience member asked if Upton would listen to his constituency, which according to polling by environmental groups, supports EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

Chances are that Chairman Fred was not delighted to see his listening tour coincide with a major op-ed article titled “Dear Fred Upton, you've changed and it's damaging our relationship”: 

Back in those early days, I didn't like you one bit. But I discovered that my initial feelings for you changed the longer I lived in your district. I started to realize that what people said about you really was true. You, Fred, were a bipartisan, moderate congressman, nothing at all like my former congressman and certainly no Republican hack. You were your own man. You marched to the beat of your own drummer and didn't always vote the way the Republican National Committee told you to. You were a rare jewel, a Republican who took climate change seriously. 

In 2007, you even co-authored a bill to outlaw inefficient light bulbs. You were even quoted as saying, "Climate change is a serious problem," back in 2009. Those were the sweet nothings that that swept me off my feet, Fred. Even though I wanted to resist you, I couldn't. My dislike for you lessened and before I knew it I began to admire you until finally I was ready to take our relationship to the next level.

I voted for you, Fred.

I was so proud of you, so proud to call you my congressman. But now you don't care for me anymore. Now all that seems to matter to you is the limelight. As soon as you made your push to get promoted, you started to appear on Fox News and before I knew it, you'd gone all Rush Limbaugh on me. You co-wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal where you implied that climate change wasn't real in spite of saying exactly the opposite a few years before. Were all those lovely words you said in the past lies? Was our relationship based on lies?  

You know when see live tweeting like this that a politician is not having a good day: 

Another question asking @RepFredUpton if accepting money from nuclear & dirty energy is a conflict of interest, Upton is silent #PowerShift 

My personal favorite for tweet of the day, though, is this one:

@RepFredUpton wrapping up here in Plainwell. Many hard hitting environment questions from the community with generic answers-ppl r pissed!

And why shouldn’t Congressman Upton’s constituents be unhappy?

A recent poll found that 62 percent of contingents in Upton’s district oppose efforts by Congress to block the EPA from updating badly needed clean air standards that would reduce pollution.

Need more reason to take a stand for clean air? More than 81,000 adults and more than 19,000 kids in Upton’s district have asthma, a condition aggravated by air pollution, yet Rep. Upton has received an incredible $765,000 in campaign donations from the big polluters.

Here are some of the next meetings Congressman Upton has made public:

Session:  Stevensville

When:  Wednesday, March 23rd @ 6pm

Where: Lincoln Township Hall, 2055 W. John Beers Rd.


Session:  Three Rivers

When:  Thursday, March 24th @ 2pm

Where: Three Rivers City Hall, 333 W. Michigan Ave.


Session:  Sturgis

When:  Thursday, March 23rd @ 6pm

Where: Sturgis City Hall, 130 N. Nottawa St.