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By now, you may have heard that Rep. Fred Upton’s efforts to gut the Clean Air Act are opposed by the majority of his constituents.

And now, according to Politico, California Sen. Barbara Boxer says Upton, who chairs the House energy committee doesn’t fully understand the history and importance of the law he wants to undo.

“All those bills he’s going after, the Clean Air Act, that was signed by Richard Nixon. I don’t think he gets the fact we have had our greatest period of expansion since our landmark environmental laws were passed.”

Upton’s response doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence:

“Nixon? The Clean Air Act was like 1990,” he said.

Reminded there was indeed a 1970 Clean Air Act, he replied, “Oh, right. I was in junior high school.”

Upton was probably thinking of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Those rules, which tackled ozone depletion, acid rain and other types of pollution, were based on proposals made by President George H.W. Bush (who, legend has it, was also a Republican) and passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Either way, Upton’s dismissal of both the 1970 and 1990 legislation manages to prove Boxer’s point that he wants to “reverse decades of bipartisan compromise on making sure our families are healthy.” Not once, but twice, in a single sentence.

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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