Young Dems Convention Paid For By Coal Company Alpha Natural Resources


Photo: Silvia Alba via Flickr/CC BY

Coal may be Public Enemy Number 1 when it comes to stopping climate chaos and eliminating air and water pollution, but the industry isn't going down without a fight. An interesting blog at WeArePowerShift.org details a young activist's disappointment when she discovered that the 2011 Young Democrats Convention was sponsored, in part, by Alpha Natural Resources, the operator of Massey Energy, the notorious company behind several mountaintop removal projects and the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.Writes Danielle Sims:

On Saturday, the convention conducted business during plenary sessions that were mandatory for convention participants to attend. Our afternoon plenary was a "Presentation and Discussion: A Conversation About Coal." Looking at the schedule, I knew this wouldn't exactly be my favorite event of the day, but I thought it would be interesting to hear arguments supporting "clean coal." As I walked into the convention plenary session room, the over 500 seats in the room had a lump of foam coal placed on top of them. All branded with the "Alpha Natural Resources" logo.

Seriously?! Last year, after successfully campaigning for the healthcare bill, YDA campaigned for a climate bill in 2009, and now it feels as if it's allowing itself to be bought by the coal industry. When I interned at a climate non-profit, I spent weeks researching the influence of dirty energy money in politics, and now the Democratic Party is starting to be a large recipient of dirty energy contributions.

Next, a representative from Kentucky's Alpha Natural Resources and a professor began their presentation. They described how "clean coal" is great for the environment because it captures carbon, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. They also made the claim that eliminating coal as an energy source would be a detriment to the families and communities of Kentucky and West Virginia that depend on coal extraction for jobs. (Note: In June 2011, Alpha Natural Resources acquired coal producer Massey Energy; Massey Energy is responsible for the deaths of 29 miners who were killed in a mine explosion at Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia in 2010.)

Would the convention take sponsorship money from Philip Morris? Probably not. Yet it took money from Alpha, a big player in the coal mining sector. As a reminder, according to UCS, an average coal-fired power plant emits:

--10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) is the main cause of acid rain, which damages forests, lakes and buildings.
--10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of smog, and also a cause of acid rain.
--3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming. There are no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

Appalachian Voices, Free Speech for People, and RAN are asking Delaware to take away Massey Energy's corporate charter, where the company is registered. You can find out more here.

Tags: Coal