August 24, 2012 by SCNCC
He’s already established an intergovernmental task force to encourage the proliferation of fracking, opened up the arctic for Shell to drill, and just in case you thought those pesky environmentalist who sat-in at the White House gate against the Keystone XL pipeline were getting to him, Barack Obama even bragged while in the pipeline nexus of North America, Cushing, Wyoming that his administration had “built enough pipeline to encircle the earth and then some.” Not long after that stump speech he approved the XL’s southern portion.
But at least during Obama’s term the Environmental Protection Agency took a stand and instituted fresh emissions requirements for coal-fired plants that will make it less profitable for the industry to do things like kill tens of thousands of people a year via toxic air pollution. Those regulations were hailed by many at the time as a death blow to the US coal industry. Not quite so, what the industry can’t profitably emit here it’s exporting to Asia and those EPA rules don’t take effect for another three years. The extraction of coal is actually on the up.
According to a new ad running in Ohio this month from Barack Obama, “candidate for president in 2012” as he reminds us before a glib voice takes over, coal production in Ohio has risen 7%. This candidate must be different then the other Barack Obama who ran for president in 2008 and who told us upon receiving the Democratic Party’s nomination that generations would look back at his term in the oval office and say that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…” As far as fossil fuels go, coal is just about the hardest to justify. It accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, according the to the International Energy Agency. Certain coal plants in Obama’s home city of Chicago have been shuttered this year, no thanks to the President, but because of a decades long struggle waged on a grassroots level by citizen activists.
Also in the radio slot we are smugly told that Obama has put $5 billion towards the next generation of coal plants and that natural gas production (read fracking) is at an all time high. Obama’s challenger Mitt Romney comes across as an environmentalist in the ad, which features a clip of the quaffed-haired mormon, telling a crowd in front of a coal plant in 2003, “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant kills people.”
Romney, then Governor of Massachusetts, was speaking in Salem, in front of coal plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. According to the Harvard School of Public Health the plant was the source of dozens of early deaths and 14,000 asthma attacks a year for people breathing nearby. If you find yourself agreeing with 2003 Mitt just remember, 2012 Mitt’s energy policy is essentially a mirror of the President’s. Maybe Mitt’s strides up the mountaintop removal mountain are a hair wider, but the path is basically the same. Expect more fracking, mountaintop removal mining, deep sea drilling to continue under either presidency. The earth won’t heal and the oceans won’t cease to rise until a social movement arises that can put the reins on the bottomless greed of extractive industries and the Democrats and Republicans who do their bidding.