(photo courtesy of www.lakeshorpublicmedia.com)
MUNCIE, Indiana – Corporate lobbyist by day, republican senator by night, Dan Coats did not fail to produce a fine piece of propaganda to send to interested constituents about President Obama’s executive order to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking a 30% reduction of carbon emissions by the year 2030. First we had Governor Mike Pence resist the order, and now we have Senator Coats remarks. Neither of them have a leg to stand on, but that won’t stop them from grandstanding.
Coats history as an obstructionist and corporate lobbyist has given him lots of practice in painting the corporations he represents as victims of a “Big Bad Government”. Check out his remarks from an email he sends to Hoosiers titled “Coats Notes”:
In the latest installment of the Obama administration’s ongoing war on coal, McCarthy announced that the EPA is putting forward new rules on existing fossil fuel power plants. These new proposed regulations are essentially a backdoor energy tax that will damage Indiana’s economy and hike the electric bills of all Hoosiers.
Because coal helps fuel our state’s economy, the EPA proposal will place a chokehold on Indiana’s primary and most affordable energy source. As the seventh-highest coal-producing state in the nation, Indiana relies on coal-fired electricity to meet over 80 percent of Hoosier energy needs.
The coal industry provides over 2,500 jobs and contributes more than $750 million to the Indiana economy.
We wonder if it was a freudian slip that he used “chokehold” in his defense of the coal industry. Hoosiers have choked on coal stacks for decades. Hoosiers literally suck on mercury sticks since Indiana is labeled one of the dirtiest states in the country, ranking 42nd in the dirtiest states poll.
The past several weeks have punished Hoosier republicans about their policies against the environment. Dr. Kreilein wrote a nice editorial in the IndyStar which sliced the likes of Dan Coats to shreds, “Infant mortality stumps Indiana’s conservative leaders because its root cause implicates their environmental agenda and regulators.”
She goes on to say, “Sen. Dan Coats’ crusade to postpone mercury limits seems as irresponsible as IDEM’s statistically erroneous boast that nearly all Indiana meets federal pollution limits. Will IDEM evade accountability for labeling glaringly disproportionate pollutant exposure as “safe/allowable/improving” while Pence prematurely aims “to lead this country by our example” without courageously considering pollution’s role in infant mortality?”
We all applaud Senator Coats record as a corporate lobbyist where he successfully lobbied for tax loopholes allowing corporations to move money offshore to avoid taxation in this country, but when it comes to public and environmental health, he is clueless.
Here he tells Hoosiers, and everybody else breathing toxic smoke from coal powered plants, “Energy providers in Indiana and across the country have spent tens of billions in capital investment for air pollution controls resulting in significant declines in emissions.
Those “tens of billions” have also been matched with tens of millions contributed to politicians who become mouth pieces for the corporations behind the dirty air we breath in this state and other dirty states. He fails to even acknowledge the public health risks and what we’re doing to negatively impact climate.
In one paragraph of an article written by Jeffrey Sachs from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sachs is able to dismiss everything Coats lays out in his message to Hoosiers:
The Environmental Protection Agency issued proposed rules for power plants last week, arguing that the extra costs of low-carbon power plants are justified by the even larger gains in avoided climate damages. The EPA measures the avoided climate damages on a global basis, meaning that it calculates not only the benefit to the US but also to the rest of the world. The US Chamber of Commerce has objected, arguing that only the US benefits should be taken into account. The EPA has done things right, both ethically and practically.
As a one-dimensional republican orator, Senator Coats talks about the jobs within the coal industry, but doesn’t talk about new jobs in clean energy sectors, nor does he discuss the costs associated with using dirty coal. These figures were provided to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but they refuse to consider the cost to countries outside the United States. Go figure!
As Sachs points out, “The US Chamber of Commerce is wrong, both ethically and operationally. The Chamber’s ethical position is that the US does not have to care about the damages it causes to the rest of the world. This is a special kind of arrogance certainly not unknown in the US corporate sector.”
We can no longer afford to pay congressmen like Dan Coats who cannot understand simple economics, but also are morally bankrupt as he accepts corporate money and gifts to speak for corporations versus the public who elected him into office. Despite all the statistics and science pointing to what breathing fossil fuels is doing to our health, wellness and our environment, he’s still protecting profiteers like the Koch brothers.
The EPA and Jeffrey Sachs have warned us for 23 years to clean things up, but politicians like Senator Dan Coats have been obstructing change in Indiana and across the United States to the point where we’re doing irreversible damage.
We can no longer afford him nor his fellow obstructionists, “economically, morally, or ethically.” Hoosiers deserve so much better.
I contacted Senator Dan Coats and Representative Luke Messer asking them to be climate champions in our state and show some leadership skills. Obviously, Senator Coats has opted for the cowards way out by hiding behind grandstanding within his district. Oh well, we tried.
Maybe he’ll see the wisdom in Mr. Sachs closing remarks:
The US Chamber of Commerce is, alas, a shortsighted and often venal institution that lacks in basic ethical standards and in practical knowledge of international public policy. Instead of attacking the EPA, the US Chamber of Commerce should be working with other chambers of commerce around the world, and with the umbrella institution, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to make sure that EPA-like rules are indeed adopted worldwide. My best guess is that many members of the US Chamber of Commerce do not agree with the Chamber’s stance on the social cost of carbon. They should speak out to insist on approaches that are moral, evidence based, and in both the US and global interest.