Rep. Fred Upton
When Upton was named chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee in December, climate activists breathed a sigh of relief. At least the two other frontrunners — Joe Barton, a longtime shill for the oil and gas industry, and John Shimkus, who invokes the Bible to justify doing nothing to stop global warming — didn't get the job. But Upton, a moderate who has backed new standards for more efficient light bulbs and admitted that "we need to reduce emissions," won the chairmanship by shamelessly transforming himself into a Tea Party wanna-be. He now claims he is "not convinced" that carbon needs to be regulated and denounces climate legislation as "an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs." As chairman, Upton is expected to further boost his credibility with the Tea Party by launching an all-out war on new regulations proposed by the EPA, including stricter air-quality standards and tougher limits on toxic coal ash. In fact, Upton has promised that EPA officials will spend so much time being questioned before his committee that "we will give them their own parking place" on Capitol Hill.