These days, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) uses most of his time generating new ways to handcuff efforts to keep our air clean, our water safe and our science sound. What is noteworthy — besides the absurdity — is that Upton continues his quest even as study after study confirms how these protections are saving lives. But let’s not forget that science denial is Upton’s obsession.
The latest report comes from Upton’s arch-enemy, the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's new study estimates that reducing fine particles and ground level ozone pollution as outlined in the 1990 Clean Air Act would save, “$2 trillion in 2020 while saving 230,000 people from early death in that year alone.” The report appears to be thorough as it “received extensive review and input from the Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, an independent panel of distinguished economists, scientists and public health experts established by Congress in 1991,” according to a story in The Michigan Messenger.
But science has never stopped anyone in Washington from doing and saying crazing things. Let’s forget that former Vice President Al Gore claims he invented the Internet, the late Sen. Ted Stevens thought the Internet was a series of tubes, and vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin said she could see a foreign country from her backyard. I’m not going to address Stevens' remark, but it’s worth noting that in the case of Palin and Gore, both politicians were (at worst) embellishing things to enhance their records. Say what you want about them, but neither Gore’s nor Palin’s lies could cost lives.
According to this recent study, Upton’s decisions as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee could cost lives while putting the country deeper in debt. These are interesting positions for a pro-life fiscal hawk from Michigan. But let’s not start thinking that things have to make sense in Washington.