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A Conversation with Fred Upton

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Incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton was my guest on Thursday. This is the second of my interviews with incoming chairs, having spoken with incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith last Monday. The transcript of the conversation with Upton is here. Among the many subjects covered was the oversight intended by Upton’s committee for the EPA:

FU: I think Lisa Jackson, the administrator of EPA, I think she might have testified one time before our committee the last two years. And we made the point of making sure that we don’t know whether we’re going to have to report to the IRS that she’s going to get free parking as a benefit up here on Capitol Hill, but she’s going to be up here a lot more. She’s going to need to defend what EPA is trying to do. And I will say this. You know, since I talked to you last, EPA had threatened to do these boiler regulations. You know, this is involving, really, most businesses across the country. And we sent some pretty tough letters over the last four, six weeks. And they backed off on them. So that was a good sign. And as we look at all these regulations that EPA has got their hands in, we’re going to be looking at all of them. And you might remember that as a matter of the Pledge, something that Kevin McCarthy did really good work on, and most Republicans, including myself, embraced this last fall, one of the planks in that was that we want to examine all of the regulations that impose costs that exceed, I want to say, it was $200 million dollars on businesses across the country. So we’re going to take that up as an issue, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve assigned Cliff Stearns to be the chairman of the very important subcommittee on oversight and investigations. And I would imagine that they’re going to, and I saw Cliff yesterday, he’s already got about his next three months of hearings, maybe as many as two a week, and beginning to plan out, and EPA’s going to be a part of that. And John Shimkus, too.

HH: Well, EPA announced in that second to last week of December that their carbon regulations will be appearing in July of ’11, and they expect adoption in March of ’12. I assume that your committee will have a lot to say about that.

FU: You are not kidding. We are going to have a lot, we will have a big focus on that. We’re starting to staff up to gear up for it, both John Shimkus, who will chair the Environment and the Economy subcommittee, as well as Ed Whitfield from Kentucky, who is going to chair the Energy subcommittee, and Cliff Stearns. We’re going to have a triple approach, and we’re going to be focuses big time on those. I want to see what they look like.

HH: Good. I want to circle back, though, to the Clean Water Act, because out here in the west, and I’ve been doing this for twenty years, when the Army Corps of Engineers gets pulled in to regulate dry beds, and then the lefties, the environmentalists want to expand the jurisdiction over what is in essence intermittent streams and dry beds, contrary to…they look at Congress and they see you guys never amend the Clean Water Act to specify what it is. Is that something you want to take on?

FU: Well, let me say two things. From the start, we’ve said we’re not going to let this administration regulate what they’re unable to legislate. But what I’ve done is, we have some pretty strong vice chairs on each of the subcommittees on our committee. And I am going to be, well, it’s going to happen, each one of our vice chairs are going to serve on the Oversight subcommittee. And that way, they can witness first hand all of the issues before the subcommittee on agencies that might have run amok, fraud and abuse, all those different things, and then use that wisdom, that work that they did on the subcommittee on oversight, and then move immediately to the subcommittee that they serve on with the legislative authority to come back and hopefully fix it. And this will be, our Oversight subcommittee is going to be very active. And when you combine that with what Darrell Issa’s going to be doing, and the relationship that we have together, we’re going to be looking to not only expose this junk, but then to come back and fix it.

Chairman Upton and I also covered Obamacare, “net neutrality,” the Consumer Products Safety Improvements Act, the demand that radio stations pay royalties to the labels for the music played on air, how oversight has to be conducted to avoid political blowback, and the future of Detroit.

On Tuesday I will begin a series of similar issues with ten incoming chairmen of House committees, plus one of Upton’s subcommittee chairs, Joe Pitts, which will focus on Obamacare’s repeal.

The trouble with most Manhattan-Beltway journalism is it does not provide readers with any sort of depth on most issues. This is obviously because most Americans could care less about “net neutrality” for example, but radio is the perfect medium for such conversations, provided the questions are detailed and the guests willing to answer them.

In Nancy Pelosi’s 111th Congress the chairs were figureheads and had little if anything to say.Speaker-designate Boehner has already changed the entire culture of the House back to one in which all members have a vote and many members have key responsibilities.



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