Big Coal In the Hot Seat

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

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Top executives from three of the country’s largest coal companies will testify before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on Wednesday, where they will address, among other things, what they think about climate change.

 Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Rio Tinto have significantly different takes on climate legislation. Rio Tinto is a member of the US Climate Action Partnership, which advocates for putting a price on carbon. Peabody and Arch, however, both oppose climate legislation. 

The committee doesn’t oversee mine safety policy, and Massey Energy won’t be among the witnesses, but it’s inevitable that the hearing will cover the recent tragedy in West Virginia that led to the deaths of 29 miners. The House Education and Labor Committee is also expected to look more closely at the disaster, and senators have pledged to examine it as well.

With concerns mounting about both safety issues and carbon pollution, the coal industry is coming under heavy fire. The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued tough new guidelines on the controversial practice of mountaintop removal mining. And it’s not so long since the the coal industry’s front group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, found itself mired in scandal after it hired a contractor that forged letters from citizens’ groups protesting the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and sent them to members of Congress.

Wednesday’s hearing aims to delve deeper into all these questions about the industry’s future. “Whether it’s climate science, the viability of ‘clean coal,’ or safety concerns, I believe Congress requires answers from the coal industry on their ability to be a part of our clean energy future,” said committee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

I’ll have more from the hearing this week.

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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.

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