By Darren Goode and Ben Geman - 11/19/10 11:30 AM EST
Upton: ‘You are never going to see a 1,000-page bill’
The Michigan Republican seeking to lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee has an expansive energy agenda that he intends to move in bite-sized pieces.
Rep. Fred Upton told E2 Thursday he would not steer a sweeping energy measure through the panel if he becomes chairman. That would be a sharp contrast to current Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who moved a nearly 1,100-page climate and energy bill through the committee in 2009, a measure that narrowly passed the House but died in the Senate.
“You are never going to see a 1,000 page bill,” Upton said as he departed the Capitol building. “You are never going to see cap-and-trade or a carbon tax.” He said the country is “ill-prepared” to meet projections of rising electricity demand.
Upton — while insisting that “I’m not measuring the drapes” — said he would seek to meet demand by boosting nuclear power, “safe drilling,” “clean” coal, renewable energy, and natural gas. “The whole portfolio,” he said. “I envision lots of bills that will have bipartisan support to help meet the challenge. ... I want there to be no reason for folks to vote ‘no’. ... No one will have an excuse not to have the time to read the bill.”
EPA in the crosshairs
Upton, in campaigning for the seat, has taken aim at what he calls “job-killing” Environmental Protection Agency rules, including toughened ozone standards, for commercial boilers and other items.
He pledged vigorous oversight, with an eye toward legislation that would force changes to EPA regulations.
“The Oversight Subcommittee under my leadership will be a very busy place,” Upton said Thursday. “We are going to be looking at a whole host of regulations that may be before the EPA on a number of topics.
“I once chaired the Oversight Subcommittee and the purpose of what we did was to expose and identify flaws — whether they be fraud and abuse, a whole host of things — and based on that documentation, move legislation to fix it, and that is what our role will be,” he said.
is in a four-man race to lead the Energy and Commerce against the panel’s
current ranking Republican — Joe Barton of Texas, who is seeking a
term-limit waiver — and Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Cliff Stearns
Whitfield gives pitch for Upton ...
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) — who is openly backing Upton for the chairmanship — gave his pitch to E2 Thursday. “There’s no reason for Fred Upton not to get it if Joe Barton doesn’t get his waiver. And according to the rules, Joe’s not entitled to his waiver.”
He noted other House Republicans — including Reps. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.) and Bob Goodlatte (Va.) — that were denied term-limit waivers. “So I don’t see what the special circumstances are here,” Whitfield said.
He touted Upton for being next in seniority, a “bright guy,” and a high fundraiser for Republicans who has voted with his party 95 percent of the time. “So what conceivable argument could you make that John Shimkus or anyone else should jump in?” he said.
... and says Barton went too far
Whitfield said the race for the panel chairmanship “has been ugly. I think Joe’s gone over the line, myself.”
Barton has denied claims that he is behind the distribution of opposition research aimed at undermining Upton’s conservative credentials.
But Barton has his backers too
Barton received some help this week when several Republicans on the panel sent a letter touting his leadership as top Republican for the past six years — including the past four under Democratic rule.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) — who signed on to that letter — said, “I think the one thing that we all know and appreciate is the job that Joe has done as a ranking member, that Fred has done as a ranking member that Shimkus and Stearns have done.” She added, “We’ve got lots of people that can do the job and the decision is going to fall down” to incoming House Republican leaders.
What about those light bulbs?
Blackburn joined Barton and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) in introducing a bill in September repealing language Upton helped include in a 2007 energy bill banning the use of incandescent light bulbs. That language has been a favorite talking point of some conservatives who have painted Upton as being too centrist for the Energy and Commerce mantle.
Blackburn Thursday laughed when asked about the controversy over that language.
“I can assure you that Congressman Upton and I have talked light bulbs many times,” she said. “So it’s something I am certain — light bulbs, [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards, — there’s going to be plenty on our plate as we review” federal regulations in the next Congress, she said.
Burr deflects questions on Senate energy panel role
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is providing few hints about whether he’s working to topple Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as ranking member of the powerful Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
While Murkowski appears to be returning to Capitol Hill for another six years after waging a write-in reelection bid against Republican Joe Miller, Burr may still challenge her to lead Republicans on the panel. But he's not saying much about his intentions for the moment.
“We haven’t even gone through the organizing process for the committees, and once we have those you are going to see members shift around from committees based on seniority, nobody knows exactly how that is going to shake out,” Burr told reporters in the Capitol Thursday evening.
“I am interested to see how the landscape looks after all the shakeout comes,” he added. “You don’t know which members are going to decide to move to different committees to be ranking members, and that has a domino effect across the board, so we will wait and see what that looks like.”
Salazar and Landrieu reach deal to free up Lew nomination
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will travel to Louisiana Monday as part of an agreement with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that led to her lifting her hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to be head of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The Senate late Thursday by voice vote approved Lew’s nomination.
Just a couple of hours earlier, she told E2 that she and the administration “have been in conversations on and off for the last several weeks, and even intensely the last 24 hours. They are making progress but the industry still remains in serious jeopardy, so right now my position has not changed, but there are some things they are considering.” She added, “The outcome that I am looking for is actually permits issued to get people back to work, which I don’t think is too much to ask,” she added.
But Landrieu in a statement after the vote said she received a commitment from Salazar Thursday night “to provide certainty and regulatory clarity to an industry that has operated in the dark for months with shifting rules.”
Salazar will travel to Louisiana Monday “to meet with industry and express the Administration’s support for the oil and gas industry,” she said. Salazar will also “outline the path forward so that permits will be issued and the people of Louisiana can get back to work in this vital industry.”
Landrieu had kept her hold on Lew’s nomination since September, initially to protest the administration’s ban on deepwater drilling. When that ban was lifted, Landrieu said she was maintaining her hold to ensure permits would be expeditiously granted for drilling projects in both deep water and shallow water.
Green seeks subcommittee perch
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) has long represented oil-patch Democrats in energy talks with House Democratic leaders. Now, he's mulling a bid to lead the caucus on key subcommittees overseeing energy and the environment in the next Congress.
Green told E2 Thursday he is asserting his seniority to head one of the Energy and Commerce subcommittees. “I’d love to have energy,” he said referring to the panel’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is giving up his top Democratic slot there to lead Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee. He also has interest in one handling commerce, trade and consumer protection, and mentioned “talk about reorganizing another environmental and hazardous waste subcommittee.”
The current Energy and Environment Subcommittee was created this Congress by merging two prior separate subcommittees — Energy and Air Quality and Environment and Hazardous Materials.
Boxer thinks small in making progress on environment
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is resigned to making incremental progress on environmental goals amid the new reality of divided government in the next Congress.
"Obviously the large ... bill that we wanted is not going to happen at this point," Boxer told the San Jose Mercury Times. But "if we focus on energy efficiency, we can achieve a lot of reductions in carbon pollution," she said.
Europe backs Schwarzenegger regional climate plan
“Six European regions have joined Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a global initiative to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions called 'R20,'” according to EurActiv.com. R20 — launched in California this week — “seeks to bring together regional governments from across the world in order to share knowledge and push ahead with actions to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transport,” according to the website.
In case you missed E2 yesterday
Our posts Thursday included:
Waxman, Markey oppose move to curb Energy Committee jurisdiction
Rahall sees no chance in Hastings move to shift energy policy jurisdiction
Boehner takes no stance on moving Energy Committee jurisdiction
Energy Republicans mobilize against push for energy oversight
Upton bashes Hastings’s play for energy jurisdiction, urges GOP leaders to nix it
Hastings urges GOP to back committee shift on energy
Shimkus seeks to position himself while defusing tensions in energy panel race
Barton: Energy panel members ‘united’ against Hastings’s bid for energy jurisdiction