The influence of coal money on politics is more than a shame — it’s a crime. But politicians seems more or less immune to paying the consequences of their criminal action. To help bring more attention to their criminal behavior though, there are always (well, sometimes…) activists!
“In Kentucky, a state where mountaintop removal has destroyed more mountains than in any other state, protesters have staged sit-ins at the governor’s office and the statehouse throughout the year,” Think Progress reports. “Those activists visited the office of Gov. Steve Beshear (D) again [Tuesday], this time hoping to deliver a little holiday cheer and a few gifts for the governor who trumpeted his support for mountaintop removal and opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency during his re-election campaign in 2011.”
The protesters waited for the Governor for hours and a Lexington teacher/activist dressed and a merry but disapproving Santa Clause was set to present the governor with lumps of coal and switches. (Though, the governor and his Lieutenant Governor, Jerry Abramson, were out of the office.)
“Santa brought the governor some lumps of coal and switches because he’s been a naughty boy in not doing everything that he can to protect the people of eastern Kentucky and our mountains and water,” he said.
Steve Beshear Has Dirty History
This, apparently, wasn’t his worst year ever, though.
“In 2009, he angered activists by firing Ron Mills, the head of Kentucky’s mining permit division, after Mills refused multiple permits for Alliance Resource Partners, a Tulsa-based company with multiple mining sites in Kentucky,” Think Progress notes.
“Beshear signed the permits over Mills’ objections, and Mills told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Alliance executives had lobbied for his firing.”
Kentucky’s Got More Coal-Loving (Meaning, In-Bed-with-Coal) Politicians
Note that a Kentucky representative in the House also criticized, yesterday, the tremendously helpful mercury and other toxic pollutants standards announced yesterday by Obama and the EPA. Despite the fact that these will clearly save many, many lives and improve the lives of millions, Representative Ed Whitfield stated on FOX News that “the scientists that testified before our committee were unanimous in the view that there is not going to be any benefit from this new regulation in reducing mercury levels.” Guess what? That’s because his committee didn’t invite real, independent scientists but ‘experts’ from the coal industry!
From Think Progress:
“Whitfield and energy committee chair Fred Upton (R-MI) have assiduously avoided having medical experts testify about the EPA’s mercury rules, instead parading utility and coal industryofficials before their committee to make exaggerated claims about the costs of upgrading power plants to protect children’s health. At one such hearing, Rep. Joe Barton denied the ‘medical negative‘ of mercury exposure.”
Here are some real facts, by independent scientists, on what the new standards will do:
- Up to 11,000 premature deaths;
- 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis;
- 4,700 heart attacks;
- 130,000 asthma attacks;
- 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
- 540,000 days when people miss work or school.
Steve Beshear via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons