Reid called on Republicans to compromise with Democrats on the committee, urging the GOP to reject proposals that target the EPA.
“I think these message pieces of legislation that deal with EPA, we should just forget about it and do things that create jobs for our country,” Reid said.
Though Upton has been a vocal critic of EPA regulations, it is unclear if he’ll use his position on the debt panel to block or limit the rules. An Upton spokesman had no comment Wednesday beyond a statement issued by the lawmaker’s office.
The statement did not include any discussion of energy and environmental issues.
“Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government,” Upton said in the statement. “No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.”
Environmental groups blasted BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE’s decision to appoint Upton to the debt committee Wednesday.
“Congressman Upton has sided with Big Oil at every opportunity during the 112th Congress, voting to protect their unnecessary subsidies while working to block the EPA’s ability to hold these corporate polluters accountable,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement.
“With the economic future of the nation hanging in the balance, we hope he will not let his loyal campaign contributors sway him from allowing these exorbitant taxpayer handouts to be ended once and for all.”
On the conference call Wednesday, Reid couldn’t resist wading into an ongoing fight between Democrats and Republicans over the proposed nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
The Obama administration moved last year to scuttle the long-delayed project. Republicans, led by Upton, have alleged that the move was political.
“He is someone I’ve known very well,” Reid, a Yucca opponent, said of Upton. “We’ve been involved in the Yucca Mountain battle for a long time. He’s lost that and I hope he moves on to something else.”
Wednesday’s conference call was intended to promote an Aug. 30 energy summit in Las Vegas. The fourth annual National Clean Energy Summit, organized by Reid and the Center for American Progress, will feature speeches by Vice President Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), among others.
—Ben Geman contributed to this story.