Upton Promises Regulatory Blockade in House

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Last month, I considered the potential leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee should Republicans take the majority this November. Michigan’s Fred Upton is by far the most moderate option in a sea of strident right-wingers. He has co-sponsored energy legislation and believes that cutting emissions is a worthy cause. And according to reports, he’s looking like the most viable candidate to take the chair. But that doesn’t mean he will be sympathetic to environmental causes in the role. In an op-ed in today’s Washington Times, Upton outlines his plans to gum up regulations at every opportunity.

He writes:

Federal government agencies have overstepped their authority and have not been held accountable for their aggressive actions. 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.

Upton pledges to block EPA regulations that he says are “smothering the economy.” He’s not just talking about the coming rules on carbon dioxide; he outlines a number of other rules he plans to take on:

The EPA is working on a regulatory train wreck that includes the following job-killing regulations:

  • Cooling water intake systems for power plants: Costs would range from $300 million per coal plant (413 facilities impacted) to $1 billion for nuclear (59 units impacted). As a result, many plants would be shuttered and energy prices will rise significantly.
  • Coal ash: Under current regulations, coal byproducts are widely recycled, creating jobs and protecting the environment. New EPA regulations could cost more than $20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs.
  • Industrial and commercial boilers: New EPA regulations put nearly 800,000 jobs at risk.
  • Revised ozone: Created without any new scientific evidence, this new rule would have a crushing impact on jobs (in the neighborhood of 7 million jobs lost) and business expansion nationwide with an estimated cost approaching $1 trillion annually.

These are just a handful of the job-killing regulations the EPA is finalizing, and that is just one agency.

In case you were harboring delusions that Upton might operate as a moderate as chair for the next two years, think again.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend