Environmentalists targeting Upton in new advertisements

Upton, who became chairman of the House energy panel in January, has become a central figure in GOP efforts to stop the EPA from issuing climate regulations, a move that Republicans say would impose major burdens on the economic recovery.

While Upton voted to temporarily block funding for EPA climate rules in the spending bill, he is also working to pass legislation in the coming months that would permanently block the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

The Sierra Club is running broadcast and cable television ads in Michigan that slam Upton for voting to block funding for EPA climate rules in the House spending bill, while also supporting billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks.

“Congressman Fred Upton puts oil companies first and Michigan families last,” the ad says.

President Obama called for eliminating oil industry tax breaks in his fiscal year 2012 budget, but Republicans, including Upton, have said such a move could harm the economy.

Upton “used to be a moderate,” Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist at the Sierra Club, said Monday. “But now is leading a charge of stripping EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.”

Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters is also targeting Upton in a radio advertisement criticizing Republicans for voting to defund EPA air pollution rules for cement plants through the end of September.

“We don’t like politicians interfering in decisions that should be made by experts, scientists who whose job it is to protect the water our kids drink and the air they breathe,” the ad says. “But Fred Upton thinks he knows better.”

The League of Conservation voters is running similar ads targeting Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), and Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) for their votes on the House spending bill. The ads will be accompanied by calls to constituents in the lawmakers’ districts.

The League of Conservation Voters is also planning to release updated environmental rankings Tuesday based on lawmakers’ votes on the House spending bill.

The advertisements come on the heels of a slew of polls commissioned by the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council that show there is significant opposition in key districts to measures that would limit EPA’s authority and block funding for key environmental regulations.