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Caught: Soon-to-be ‘moderate’ GOP energy chairman now suggests no link between carbon dioxide, global warming

By John Byrne
Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:12 EDT
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Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican set to take over the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lashed out at a proposal to ameliorate global warming at a panel in January — and appears to now deny the basic premise of climate change.

What’s been little-noticed, however, is that Upton actually questioned the entire concept of global warming, not just what disbelieving conservatives referred to as “questionable science.”

Speaking of cap-and-trade, a proposal whereby carbon polluters would pay for carbon credits (essentially the right to pollute) he said, “No matter what we did between now and 2050, it, it, there was no real science to verify that it would reduce the temperature rise that some predicted.”

He also called for hearings into the so-called “Climategate” scandal, where email exchanges between British university researchers were leaked that showed efforts to highlight the gravest examples of the global warming threat. Ultimately, the scientists were involved and the evidence of global warming was found to be real.

Nevertheless, when questioned about the email fracas, Upton said, “We do need hearings.”

ThinkProgress caught the Jan. 14, 2010 video of Upton at a panel. It follows this post.

Brad Johnson, writing at the liberal blog ThinkProgress’ Wonk Room, notes that the basic premise of global warming has been understood for decades.

In fact, the threat of global warming pollution has been understood since the 1950s. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that the enactment of U.S. climate legislation would greatly impact rising temperatures, reducing the risk of warming by 2 C from 99 percent to 25 percent, and the risk of 4 C warming from 32 percent to practically zero. That is why the National Academies of Science recommended in May that the United States “act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Upton is just one of several top House Republicans who have called for a witch hunt against practicing climate scientists. After Upton’s remarks in January, the scientists have been repeatedly exonerated of the unfounded charges of conspiracy and corruption laid against them by the right wing. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), in line to take over the oversight committee, has repeatedly called for hearings, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) hopes to use the global warming committee to investigate scientists. Upton’s challenger, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also wants to launch McCarthyite show trials on climate science.

Upton enjoys a reputation as a “moderate on environmental issues,” but he has become as extreme as the rest of his Tea Party colleagues on global warming and other environmental rules.

He’s also promised to tear apart the Democrats’ health care bill “like a Jenga game.”

“I know there’s going to be a vote to repeal the whole thing if we take over, but in all likelihood we’re not going to have the votes to override,” Upton told Politico in late October. “I look at this a little bit like a Jenga game. It’s a good game with my kids. We’re going to look at the pieces.”

He said that he’d conduct “detailed scrutiny of the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate for greenhouse gases,” and took it a step further, telling Politico that he’ll have a parking space specifically reserved for Obama’s EPA chief and his Health and Human Services Secretary.

“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson can expect to have their own parking spaces reserved outside the Rayburn Office Building,” the site’s reporter wrote.

“We’ll paint the curb yellow for them,” Upton added.

 
 
 
 
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