Is It Just Coincidence That States With Anti-Climate Action Resolutions Are Dependent on Coal?


Missouri coal train, photo: Scott Granneman via flickr.

As Grist pointed out yesterday, the US now has 15 states with resolutions attempting to prevent limits on greenhouse gas pollution. Add to that West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller's bill, just introduced, which would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating stationary sources of pollution for effectively four years. Is it any surprise that the fossil fuel industries, in one way or another, dominate these states?Rockefeller Bill Doesn't Question Warming, Just Effect on Industry
But first the Rockefeller bill: Unlike many other similar bills, Rockefeller's doesn't question the science of global warming or that CO2 is a pollutant affecting human health. Still though coal dependency is right on the surface, with the Senator saying the bill was needed to "safeguard jobs, the coal industry and the entire economy as we move toward clean-coal technology." (Reuters)

Though the bill only specifies a two-year EPA time out on regulation, it would really mean longer term set-backs. David Donger of the NRDC:

The Rockefeller bill would effectively block global warming pollution limits for four years, not two. That's because it would bar EPA from doing any of the homework needed to set limits--no research on available technologies or their costs and no outreach and consultation with industry, state, or environmental stakeholders. So even after the two-year period ran out, it would take EPA another two years to get things done.

Coal Dependence in 12 of 15 Anti-EPA States
The coal connection to West Virginia is obvious, but look at the other 14 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Washington all have pending or approved anti-EPA actions.

Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah are all dependent on coal for electricity. In Illinois, Maryland and Virginia coal is more or less tied with nuclear power. In Florida coal is the second highest source of electricity. Alaska's dependence on the fossil fuel industry is well known. Only in Washington does coal not figure heavily, with hydropower being the overwhelming source of electricity.

Let's call this what it is: States worried about rising electricity costs and the effect on their fossil fuel industry of forcing polluters to, well, stop continuing to despoil the environment both in their state, in the nation, and the planet. It's influential people continuing to fail to take a long-term perspective on both economic and ecological sustainability, prioritizing short term profits and hiding the motivation behind populist propaganda about potential job losses.

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Tags: Carbon Emissions | Coal | EPA | Global Climate Change | United States

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