Coal Finally Gets a Voice in Congress

Photo <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncharris/4209526040/">Duncan Harris</a>, via Flickr.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The coal industry has never seemed to have much difficulty pushing its views on Capitol Hill. In 2008 alone, the industry spent more than $47 million on lobbying and ad campaigns aimed at winning lawmakers’ loyalty—and thanks to its efforts, received $60 billion in the House cap-and-trade bill to develop coal capture-and-storage technology. Nevertheless, some legislators apparently feel that the coal lobby has been unfairly marginalized, and so they’ve formed a bipartisan coal caucus to stand up for “America’s most abundant and affordable energy resource.”

The new grouping includes Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), John Salazar (D-Col.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.). All of them voted against the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. Their opposition came even as Rick Boucher (D-Va.), another reliable coal booster, hailed it as a boon for the industry. The new coal caucus seems to be concerned with being perceived as champions of coal above anything else.

But although the new caucus says it will speak with a “unified voice” on behallf of coal, its members’ positions can be contradictory. In a statement Holden touted his support for government investment in carbon storage technology. Yet Shimkus believes that the planet is “carbon-starved” and worries that regulations on emissions means “taking away plant food from the atmosphere.” If that’s the case, why would the industry need generous funding to capture and store carbon dioxide?

The six are also seeking additional legislators for their caucus, and may manage to pick up a few extra members—perhaps Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) who jumped out of a plane to demonstrate his support for coal last year, or maybe one of the Republicans who let the industry write their talking points in the House.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate