Kids vs. Coal – Warner/Webb chose Coal

Senator Mark Warner and Senator Jim Webb acted disgracefully yesterday, and I hope you’ll join us in holding them accountable.

Senator Webb: (202) 224-4024
Senator Warner: (202) 224-2023

It was not a surprise when Senator James Inhofe, a known climate denier, introduced a back-door political maneuver to gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of mercury and other air toxins.

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that our coal-state senators were two of the five Democrats who bucked their party and voted with the likes of Senator Inhofe on his proposal yesterday. But I can’t help but be outraged every time our elected officials side with Big Polluters over the health of their constituents. This vote could provide no clearer example of that.

The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard is a huge victory for public health. And, thankfully, 53 senators voted yesterday to uphold it, with no help from the VA senators. This rule will save 11,000 lives EVERY YEAR (300 lives in VA), and prevent 130,000 cases of childhood asthma. And, by the way, if the senators need a price tag on lives saved, the health and societal benefits savings are estimated to be $90 BILLION each year.

Americans want these rules. A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll released recently shows that 57 percent of the public supports the long-overdue EPA rule controlling mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants as long as companies are given more time to comply.

That, plus the lives of 300 of their constituents, should be all the information (or even political cover) that Senators Warner and Webb needed to vote the right way. It wasn’t. I wonder what it would take. Maybe $65,000? That’s how much Dominion Resources has donated to Senator Warner since 2007. Dominion’s Virginia subsidiary owns almost all of the coal plants in Virginia. It’s pretty clear whose voice was heard.

What’s really scaring me though is that if our senators voted the wrong way on what is a fairly non-controversial rule from the EPA that directly saves lives…what will they do when the inevitable fight to defeat the EPA’s carbon rules comes to a head?

The EPA recently released some good but moderate rules to limit carbon pollution, the main driver of climate change, from any future coal-fired power plants. The benefits are clear to those of us who accept the reality of climate change. But, as we know, the fossil fuel industry will be doing its best to undermine the science and stop any regulation of carbon dioxide.

When you call Senators Warner and Webb to let ’em have it on their disgraceful vote yesterday, please be sure to mention that we expect them to stand with us next time and support the EPA’s regulation of carbon pollution.

And, please join our ongoing efforts to hold Dominion Virginia Power and their friends in the general assembly accountable for being the commonwealth’s major roadblock to investing in clean energy and addressing climate change. We need to become a true force to be reckoned with if we’re really going to be heard above the money…and that means we need you and all your friends to get involved as much as you can. Email me at kirsten@chesapeakeclimate.org or our lead VA organizer at keitht@chesapeakeclimate.org for more details.

Thanks for all you do.