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April 30 2012

16:37

E.P.A. Official Resigns Over 'Crucify' Comments

An official who spoke of seeking to "crucify" big polluters says that he does not want his remarks to distract people from the E.P.A.'s "important work."

April 26 2012

16:48

E.P.A. Official Spoke of 'Crucifying' Polluters

After the release of a video by a Republican senator, an E.P.A. administrator scrambles to apologize for "offensive" remarks.
Sponsored post

March 14 2012

16:04

Is James Inhofe Shilling For God, or Oil? The Correct Answer is “Both”

Last week, we were treated to one of those facepalm moments that make those of us who care about the future of planet intensely frustrated. Or worse.

Senator James Inhofe, climate conspiracy theorist, was on a Christian radio program talking about his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. And here’s what he said (audio at link):

Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in [the book] is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

Okay, forget about the biblically-based climate denial for a moment. I’m kind of fascinated by Inhofe’s statement that God is still “up there.” Really? Like, in the sun? Directly over our heads?

Is Inhofe a pre-Copernican as well as a global warming denier? Does he not realize that while “up” might have meant a great deal to Ptolemaic Christians, it has no real significance in the context of modern physics and cosmology?

What’s most frustrating, though, is this bizarre invocation of Scripture to justify the idea that we don’t need to worry about climate change. For those of us who are secular in outlook, it’s not just that this makes no sense. The idea that such sectarian notions—arguments or motivations that cannot be proved by rational argument or discussion with those who do not share Inhofe’s religious premises—could be influencing U.S. policy is, frankly, shocking.

read more

February 27 2012

15:29

James Inhofe Takes the Climate Conspiracy Theory to New Heights—While His Home State Reels from Record Heat

James Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has a new book out. It is entitled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.

I have not read it yet. So I cannot say much about its contents, but I can say this: The title suggests that Inhofe, like Rick Santorum, is endorsing the global warming conspiracy theory. Indeed, where Santorum only muttered the word “hoax” without a great deal of elaboration, it looks like Inhofe is going to put some real meat onto those paranoid bones.

Let me once again reiterate why the global warming conspiracy theory is, well, just plain ridiculous.

To believe that global warming is a “hoax,” or that there is a “conspiracy,” you must believe in coordinated action on the part of scientists, environmental ministers, politicians, and NGOs around the world. It won’t do just to situate the hoax in the United States and its own scientific and NGO community, because the idea of human-caused global warming is endorsed by scientists, and scientific academies, around the globe.

Any one of these could blow the whistle on the so-called “hoax.” That this has not happened either means there is no hoax, or that the degree of conspiracy and collusion—among people who are notoriously individualistic and non-conformist, by the way—is mindboggling. We're talking about some serious cat-herding going on.

read more

February 14 2012

23:08

September 18 2011

19:18

As The World Warms, Environmental Protections Put On The Back Burner

After a year that has so far produced record-breaking snowstorms, droughts, floods, and violent hurricanes and tornadoes, environmental protections are once again being scaled back. Against the best advice of experts, the U.S. EPA has decided to delay issuing new rules for greenhouse gas emissions, the deadline for which is September 30th. This marks the second time in three months that the EPA has missed a deadline for issuing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards.

In their announcement, the EPA said that they are aware that it is their responsibility to move forward with new GHG standards, but they want to consider all of the available information before issuing a final ruling. According to an EPA spokesperson, one factor that the agency is still trying to figure out is the cost of the new measures.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is legally required to put restrictions on any air pollutant that is deemed unsafe for the American public. Thanks to a recent decision that GHGs are a threat to the public, this means they are required to put new standards in place. In addition to legally being required to regulate, the EPA is also not allowed to consider costs when making their decisions, meaning that their current “evaluation” period should not be extended to examine costs.


This new announcement comes on the heels of President Obama’s recent decision to roll back smog standards that the EPA had already put in place. The White House succumbed to a tremendous amount of pressure that the Republican Party had placed on the administration to curb the power of the EPA. The smog standards in place would have reduced ground level ozone levels, which have been shown to cause asthma and other respiratory problems.

Experts are not just concerned about the health problems that delays in EPA action will cause, but also the environmental impact we could face as a result. NOAA has warned that delays in regulating pollutants could lead to even more extreme weather events, which is especially devastating considering the cadre of natural disasters that have swept across America in 2011 so far.

While scientists and environmentalists are upset over the recent anti-environment decisions, the Republican Party couldn’t be happier. Climate change denier James Inhofe celebrated the recent announcements saying, “This announcement, as well as President Obama's recent request that E.P.A. withdraw the ozone standard, makes one thing clear: not only will E.P.A.'s barrage of regulations cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs, they may cost President Obama his own job, and he knows it all too well.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that removing the smog regulation was a good first step toward removing obstacles that are blocking business growth.

Tom Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also had praise for the decisions: (This is) “an enormous victory for America's job creators, the right decision by the president and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses.”

These comments reflect a growing trend among the Republican Party, which is to ruthlessly and baselessly attack the EPA and environmental protections. Their talking point du jour is “job killing regulations,” a talking point that has been debunked by numerous scholars and studies (the best available research shows that regulations actually help create jobs, rather than destroying them.)

This crusade against the EPA has included attacks on the agency as “inefficient,” as well as calls from elected officials and GOP presidential hopefuls to completely abolish the agency.

Both the White House and the EPA want us to be reassured that they are “very committed” to protecting the environment and issuing new standards. But as we’ve seen so far this year, both the president and the EPA are at the mercy of a political party that is doing everything in their power to completely abolish the EPA and destroy any and all regulations that have been put in place over the years.

September 15 2011

16:04

Greenhouse Gas Rule Delayed

The E.P.A. attributes the delay to the complexity of drawing up the rule, not to pressure from a White House besieged by congressional opposition.

September 06 2011

18:55

June 30 2011

18:12

Denial-a-Palooza: Where Are All the Scientists That Deniers Love To Talk About?

Wake up and smell the fossil fuel funding. That's right, it's that time of year again: the Heartland Institute is hosting its Sixth (annual?*) International Conference on Climate Change over the next two days in Washington D.C.

DeSmogBlog already revealed some of the oily sponsors behind the event. Now it's time to take a look at the so-called scientists Heartland has rounded up to accomplish this year's theme of "Restoring the Scientific Method."   

As in past years, Heartland's speakers list is dominated by economists, engineers, TV weathermen, and representatives from right wing think-tanks. DeSmogBlog has researched the speakers at this year's event: 

DeSmogBlog also added new names to the disinformation database this year (some long overdue):

Scott Denning, who also spoke at last year's Heartland Conference, is notably absent from this list. The reason being that Denning actually acknowledges man-made global warming (see his presentation at last year's conference). Denning is a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, and appears to be one of a small handful of legitimate climate scientists in the crowd. 

Why then, you might ask, has the Heartland Institute not only invited Denning back this year, but also featured him prominently on the ICCC6 home page? Apparently Heartland actually scheduled a debate between Denning and Roy Spencer

Whether he recognizes it or not, Denning serves as a false stamp of legitimacy for this non-scientific conference.

Brian Angliss over at Scholars & Rogues has more to say about the dearth of actual climate scientists attending Denial-a-Palooza this year.

*This will be Heartland's sixth conference in the past four years: the first was in March 2008, the second in March 2009, third in June 2009, fourth in May 2010, fifth in October 2010, and now the sixth in June 2011.

** Senator James Inhofe, who was set to be the opening key note speaker, sent his regrets this morning claiming he is "under the weather."  Perhaps he was referring to the brutal drought conditions affecting his constituents back in Oklahoma, as Joe Romm from ClimateProgress postulates.

June 16 2011

19:32

Nuclear Chief Is Grilled on Leadership Style

Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, asks the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's chairman whether he rode roughshod over his fellow commissioners.

April 17 2011

22:41

Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a flashy headline that reads, '900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm'. The article links to a blog post on Populartechnology.net listing more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute "concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic."

The "900+ papers" list is supposed to somehow prove that a score of scientists reject the scientific consensus on climate change. One might be persuaded by the big numbers. We're not. <!--break-->

Oh, where to begin? First, a note of caution about the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It's a UK group opposing climate change action. Sourcewatch's digging reveals links to right-wing libertarian climate change deniers. According to the UK Charity Commission, GWPF's mandate is to "advance the public understanding of global warming and of its possible consequences, and also of the measures taken or proposed to be taken in response to it". Actually, they're a heck of a lot more interested in sowing seeds of doubt than in disseminating knowledge. The GWPF's director is the Heartland Institute's* Benny Peiser, climate change denier extraordinaire. Other notable members include Canada's Ross McKitrick of the Fraser Institute.   

Curiously, the GWPF was launched just as the Climategate emails were released. An op-ed by Chairman Nigel Lawson announced the GWPF, predicted the (hopeful) failure of the Copenhagen climate talks, and called for an inquiry into the content of the stolen emails.

Using a screen-scraping process to analyze the data on the "900+" list, the folks over at Carbon Brief dug up some pretty incriminating information. Turns out nine of the ten most cited authors on the list (representing 186 of the 938 papers) have links to ExonMobil-funded organizations. The tenth has co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors. Anyone familiar with these kinds of lists ("More than 500 scientists dispute global warming" or "more Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims") knows that if you've seen one, you've seen them all.  Many familiar climate skeptic names appear over and over again.

Dr. Sherwood B Idso is the most cited author on the list, having authored or co-authored 67 of the papers. Idso is president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a think tank funded by ExxonMobil and the Sarah Scaife Foundation

The second most cited is Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, a well-known climate sceptic who admits that around 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry.

When you really crunch the numbers, all you really find is a small echochamber of the same individuals who pop up on every denier list and petition around. James W. Prall at the University of Toronto has put together a fantastic analysis of the names that appear on these lists, and shows how most of them share funding ties to the oil industry. 

Now a note on the most cited journals on this list. Articles from trade journal Energy and Environment are cited 137 times on the list. Energy and Environment is edited by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and Benny Peiser. Numerous known climate skeptics sit on the editorial staff including Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, and Richard Lindzen.  The journal has become a go-to resource for policymakers and politicians who are skeptical of the scientific consensus of climate change. 

Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales has described it as “the climate sceptic’s journal of choice”. The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge is considered a key resource for establishing the credentials and influence of key academic journals. It does not list Energy and Environment.  

A further 24 papers come from the journal Climate Research which is perhaps best known for publishing a 2003 paper by Sallie Baliunas and Willy Soon that received funding from the American Petroleum Institute. In response to the paper’s publication, the editor in chief, Hans Von Storch, and five of ten members of the editorial board, resigned in protest.

Let's contrast this "900+ list" with the real facts. Expert Credibility in Climate Changewhich appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines over 2,400 climate scientists and authors who have signed public statements on climate change. Their research says that 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field believe that global warming is happening, and that we must respond to it.

A note to deniers: if you keep publishing these lists, we'll keep debunking them. Long lists might look convincing, but they're no substitute for research that is free of fossil fuel industry bias and is taken seriously by the scientific community. 

*Updated: Peiser is listed as one of the global warming 'experts' by the Heartland Institute, but does not work there.

Image Credit: Prospect Magazine

March 09 2011

00:26

Paying Favors to Big Industry Polluters, House Wages Another Attack on Clean Air

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 EarthJustice.org  Bill introduced by Rep. Upton and others reads like a love letter to nation’s biggest polluter industries March 3, 2011 Washington, D.C. —  Today Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced a House of Representatives bill to block [...]

March 07 2011

18:53
13:45

So Now They Call in the Scientists?

So this is interesting.

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce--chaired by Fred Upton of Michigan, pictured here--will hold a hearing (though the Subcommittee on Energy and Power) on “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations.” It looks like it is going to be, basically, a science fight. Several scientists, like Christopher Field of Stanford and Richard Somerville of Scripps, are testifying who are sure to affirm the mainstream scientific consensus view of global warming. But there are also more “skeptical” scientists, like John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville, on the docket.<!--break-->

Christy does acknowledge that humans are causing some degree of global warming, but questions whether it will be a “catastrophe.” Another scientist set to testify, Roger Pielke, Sr., also accepts that humans impact the climate but does not agree with the IPCC that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is probably caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words, we can expect both of these scientists to challenge how bad the problem is, not that there is a problem at all.

What’s odd about this is that the committee’s Republican leadership already seemed to have made up its mind that the science of climate was bunk—as James Inhofe told them last month--and that the EPA must be blocked in its scientific determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare and so should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

In a hearing last month on this very topic. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, a Democrat in the minority of the committee, commented, “Don’t you find it strange that this hearing is being conducted with no scientists at all?” And indeed, hearing from scientists is what committee Democrats very much seemed to want. In truth, they want even more scientific testimony than this

My view is that it’s certainly better to hear from scientists than not to hear from them—but “science fight” hearings are rarely very enlightening. Some members of the media, the Congress, and the public are able to parse the flurry of claims and counterclaims. But most walk away with the impression that there’s a big “debate” and a lot of “uncertainty.”

So I guess my conclusion is, “two cheers” for the latest hearing. With so much climate skepticism and denial in the current Congress, it’s probably the best you are going to get.

 

March 03 2011

22:27

February 24 2011

18:37

Review Finds No Mishandling of Climate Data by Agency

An inquiry requested by Senator James Inhofe, a critic of climate science, finds no evidence that NOAA "failed to adhere to its peer review procedures prior to its dissemination of information."

February 09 2011

16:10

Who Needs Scientists When You’ve Got James Inhofe?

The big news so far from the current hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power—concerning the so-called “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011”—is that Senator James Inhofe, the leading climate change denier in the U.S. Congress, has a book coming out.<!--break-->

Inhofe had crossed chambers to testify in favor of the new legislation, which he co-authored with Energy and Commerce chair Fred Upton and subcommittee chair Ed Whitfield, and which would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. And in response to a question from Upton, Inhofe took the opportunity to mention his book, telling the committee that he just finished it and that it will be entitled "The Hoax.”

The title, presumably, refers to Inhofe’s most (in)famous statement: His 2003 claim that climate change is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” I suppose it’s kind of like Carl Sagan entitling one of his last books Billions and Billions. Sagan didn’t like being remembered by that phrase, which he'd never actually uttered--but it’s much better than the one Inhofe is going to be remembered by, and did use to dismiss climate change.

But book or not, what's most striking about the hearing underway right now is the central role Inhofe was given--not just to lead it off, but to pronounce definitively on the technical issues at stake, both economic and scientific.

The purpose of the legislation in question is to block the EPA from moving to regulate greenhouse gases, which it is on the path to doing based on the agency's scientific determination that they endanger public health and welfare. In order to question EPA’s expert science, then, you’d think you would at least need dissenting scientists. And there are plenty of those around, including those “skeptics” who just signed a letter to Congress making their standard arguments.

But in a departure from standard Republican strategy, the hearing today doesn’t even have skeptical scientists on the docket. Instead, it offered Inhofe as a kind de facto expert on environmental science, policy, and economics.

As Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois put it, in a question to Inhofe himself: “Don’t you find it strange that this hearing is being conducted with no scientists at all?”

Don’t get me wrong—Inhofe is well versed in these issues and speaks confidently and expansively about them. But his views on the science and the economics alike are not only non-expert; they've been documented extensively, by myself and many others, to misrepresent what experts actually think.

That continued today, as Inhofe asserted that the findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had been “totally debunked” by the 'Climategate' scandal, and called mainstream climate science “phony.” Later, he also said he disagreed with the National Academy of Sciences’ “interpretation” that global warming is caused by human activities.

Nevertheless, my sense from watching the first hour of the hearing is that Inhofe’s fellow Republicans have come to view him as the grand don of climate change skepticism in the Senate. They not only trust him, they defer to him. What Inhofe says is good enough for them--and on that basis, they'll make decisions affecting the entire planet.

03:42

Upton's Show Trial To Attack EPA Carbon Controls Set For Wednesday Morning

Remember reading about those Soviet-era show trials where politics and everything BUT the facts were actually discussed? Well on February 9th, the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil are paying for a show trial of their own.

On Wednesday at 9:30 am, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing to examine legislation (see memo [pdf])aiming to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from curbing global warming pollution from stationary sources (power plants, factories, etc.). The bill “HR __, The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” was proposed last week by self-anointed “manmade climate change” skeptic (see video below) and Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), with the help of Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and well-known climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

The Centre for American Progress Action Fund (CAP) has a brilliant backgrounder [pdf] on the hearing describing how polluter friendly support in the Committee on Energy and Commerce, primarily on the Republican side, has been paid for by Koch Industries and their partners in polluting the planet. CAP shows that during the 2010 election cycle, the Kochs and their employees gave $279,500 to 22 Republicans on the Committee and $32,000 to five of its Democrats.
<!--break-->
Upton himself received $20,000 and representatives for the Kochs met with the new Committee Chairman on the first day of the new congress to discuss the EPA’s use of clean air rules to control carbon emissions. As well, Whitfield received $5,000 from Koch Industries during the last election, and Inhofe $40,000 between the 2007-08 election cycle.

More highlights, or lowlights noted in the CAP backgrounder include:


Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge that opposed any government action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

Koch front-group Americans for Prosperity spent over $200,000 on ads to help key Energy and Commerce Committee members in the 2010 elections. Five of the six GOP freshman lawmakers on the panel benefited from the group’s separate advertising and grassroots activity during the 2010 campaign.


Up for “debate” in this mock trial, is the EPA’s ability to use the Clean Air Act to control carbon emissions, which is based on the scientific grounding that global warming poses significant threats to public health. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a memo [pdf] supporting the EPA’s efforts to safeguard public health and rightly criticized Upton’s misguided polluter friendly (and funded) bill:


“Legislatively repealing the scientific determination directly conflicts with the consensus of climate scientists and the world's most authoritative scientific organizations.”


While this will be EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s first chance to defend the EPA’s carbon rules in front of the new House Republican majority, it won't help that the meeting is a who’s who of Koch and Exxon funded politicians and fossil fuel cheerleaders who will pay tribute to the Upton bill.

Climate Progress notes that, “The committee is stacking the witness stand with big polluters and their allies.” Indeed, witnesses include:

•    National Black Chamber of Commerce president Harry Alford has received $425,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
•    Margo Thorning is the vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, or ACCF. ACCF has received $215,000 from Koch foundations and nearly $1.7 million from ExxonMobil.
•    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s 2010 campaign was heavily funded by some of Texas’s largest industries, with most coming from people connected to oil and gas interest. A vocal climate-denier, Abbott sued the Obama administration to end an offshore oil-drilling moratorium instituted following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and has taken the federal EPA to court three times in the past year.
•    Lonnie Carter is president of Santee Cooper, the largest single mercury polluter in South Carolina.
•    Steve Cousins is vice president of Lion Oil, which ranks 27 on the list of top 100facilities releasing chemicals such as nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and benzene into the environment.
•    Peter Glaser of Troutman Sanders LLP works with the Washington Legal Foundation, which has received $325,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
•    Fred Harnack represents the U.S. Steel Corporation, which ranks 19th on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
•    James Pearce is the environmental general manager for FMC Corp., which had to pay the largest civil penalty ever obtained under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for repeatedly violating the hazardous waste law at its phosphorus production facility in Pocatello, Idaho.
•    Steve Rowlan is the environmental general manager at Nucor Corp., which is 24 on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
•    Self-proclaimed “climate-denier-in-chief” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and one of the draft legislation sponsors, will also testify at the hearing.
•    Illinois Farm Bureau president Phillip Nelson has a history of attacking air and water safeguards, while supporting big polluting mega-farms.


Climate Progress also notes that EPA’s pollution controls have prevented “205,000 premature deaths, 843,000 asthma attacks, and 18 million child respiratory illnesses” and that today the Clean Air Act delivers economic benefits on the scale of 20-to-1 [pdf] – yet Koch and Exxon allies in Congress are more likely to have the wishes of their campaign funders on their minds.

Witness Upton's new-found climate denial:

01:19

Coal’s Main Man(chin) In Washington

On the heels of three short-sighted pieces of legislation in the US Senate aiming to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) authority over global warming pollution (from Senators Barrasso, Rockefeller and Inhofe), last Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) delivered his first attempt to end the EPA’s general oversight capacity with the “EPA Fair Play Act.”

In spite of popular support for the EPA (77% feel the agency should be allowed to “do its job”), Manchin’s first piece of legislation has significant implications for undermining health, safety and environmental protections and bolsters Newt Gingrich’s recent calls to dismantle the EPA.
<!--break-->
Is Manchin's latest attack just a knee-jerk reaction over the Spruce Mine issue? After all, in response to the EPA’s veto of Spruce Mine No.1 in January, Manchin described his bill saying:
“I believe it is fundamentally wrong for any bureaucratic agency, including the EPA, to regulate what has not been legislated, to have absolute power to change the rules at the end of the game and to revoke a permit, as the EPA did in southern West Virginia’s Spruce Mine…”
Or will it be one of many pieces of polluter friendly legislation to come? It seems that protecting the coal industry and other vested fossil fuel interests will be top priorities for the new Senator, whether by his own legislation, or from the support he will provide them as a new member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Even in the twilight of his career, former coal favourite Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) (whom Manchin replaced) was calling out big coal for the disruptive role it plays in West Virginia’s politics. Given that dirty energy interests, and notably the coal industry, have been substantial contributors to Manchin’s campaigns, he is unlikely to be responsive to his constituents' concerns over coal’s risks to health, safety and the environment, nor to hold dirty energy interests to account.

According to FollowTheMoney, as Governor Joe Manchin was no stranger to dirty money, having collected $285,613 from mining and another $90,041 from oil and gas between 2000 and 2008. After the EPA released new guidelines for issuing Clean Water Act permits for coal mines in April last year, Manchin filed a lawsuit to overturn the new guidelines. As well, he also filed a lawsuit suing the EPA over its global warming regulations.

According to OpenSecrets, for his 2010 Senatorial run, Manchin received some $410,021 from dirty energy sources ($174,871 from mining, $166,200 from electric utilities and another $68,950 from oil and gas).

During his campaign to succeed Senator Byrd, Manchin took “dead aim” at a copy of a climate bill in an advertisement that, thankfully, he now says he would not have made in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

But Manchin will clearly keep mounting his defense of fossil fuels, and specifically coal, and of course completely overlooking the health impacts in coal counties.  These industry "externalities" are staggering, including mercury poisoning putting some 300,000 fetuses at risk of neurological damage each year, according to the Sierra Club. Additionally, the coal industry was responsible for 2,237 megatons of global warming pollution in 2008, 38% of US emissions. The cost to humanity from manmade global warming is estimated between $60 and $600 billion.

In his short time as a Senator, Manchin’s defense of the coal industry has led him to bend the truth as well. In his first address to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, during a hearing on energy and oil markets (at approximately the 106 minute mark), Manchin criticized the EPA and (mis)characterized the coal industry as a “victim,” and particularly vis-à-vis energy subsidies said:

“The only energy source — which is the greatest source that we have so far as we’re dependent on — is coal. It doesn’t get a penny of subsidies. But it’s been villainized by this administration…”
That's quite a claim about an industry that has collected government subsidies since 1932! In 2009, coal cost West Virginia some $97.5 million, according to an analysis by Downstream Strategies. And in 2008, as Governor, Manchin himself provided Appalachian Fuel $200 million in subsidies for a liquid coal plant. Moreover, Taxpayers for Common Sense released their Green Scissors report last July, identifying $19 billion in subsidies to the industry.

Suffice it to say, as Governor, Manchin’s ardent defense of coal and other fossil fuel industries left little doubt about his industry bias. While running for Senator, his fossil fuel financiers strengthened their relationship with him, and now the EPA Fair Play Act is the tip of the iceberg.

February 08 2011

16:13
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