Rep. Upton's business competition hypocrisy, exhibit A

Rep. Fred Upton, Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, held a hearing yesterday on a piece of legislation euphemistically named the Energy Tax Prevention Act. This law seeks to overturn the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. In Upton’s opening statement, he claims “I know American manufacturers can compete – but not if they are saddled with burdensome regulations that put us at an unfair disadvantage.”

On the surface, this is a completely reasonable thing for a Republican to say. After all, Republicans generally are against regulations on the laissez-faire premise that all regulation is bad for business. But Upton is also on record supporting repeal of last year’s healthcare law, something else that would put American manufacturers at an “unfair disadvantage.” After all, one of the major reasons why appliance and auto parts manufacturers like those in Upton’s district have a hard time competing with foreign manufacturers is that foreign manufacturers don’t have to pay for medical insurance. So you’d think that someone as pro-business as Upton claims to be would want to strengthen the health care law instead of repeal it.

We shouldn’t be surprised by Upton’s hypocrisy, however. Upton shifted from calling climate disruption “a serious problem that necessitates serious solution” in April, 2009 to climate disruption denial at the same time that the lion’s share of his political donations dramatically shifted from the communications and health care industries of his own district toward out-of-district and out-of-district electrical utilities and oil/gas companies.

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    • It’s amazing to see, actually – According to, Upton went from having a small fraction of his political donations being energy and natural resources in 2006 to having those donations take the top spot in 2008 and 2010. At the same time, out-of-state donations went up from 16% in 2004 to 25% in 2006, 31% in 2008, and 33% in 2010. The single largest donor to Upton’s campaign in 2010 was an energy company out of Salt Lake City.