Cross-posted from Wonk Room.
In a bald attempt to defend coal industry profits, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) has joined a predominantly Republican push to overrule the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific finding that greenhouse gases are dangerous pollutants. Earlier this month, Pomeroy introduced the Save Our Energy Jobs Act (H.R. 4396), which would rewrite the Clean Air Act so that “[t]he term ‘air pollutant’ shall not include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.” Pomeroy’s justification for flouting the reality of the global warming threat is the need to defend the coal, oil, and gas industries:
This action could result in significantly raising local energy prices and endanger the 28,000 direct and indirect jobs that are connected to North Dakota’s coal industry, not to mention thousands of jobs connected to our manufacturing and expanding oil and gas industries.
Pomeroy’s claim that “regulations to address global climate change must only be enacted at the direction of Congress” is specious, considering that he voted against the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, which did exactly that.
This is nothing new. North Dakota’s coal industry successfully blocked the state legislature from taking action on global warming pollution in 1995, by noting that it would make wind power more cost-effective than coal. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), while extolling North Dakota’s wind power potential, has decided to side with coal when it comes to actual climate policy decisions, though he has not taken the extreme step of embracing Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) resolution to overturn the greenhouse gas endangerment finding, as Democrats Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) have.
North Dakota’s allegiance to coal has delivered low-price electricity, but at great cost. North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power plant, the Great River Energy Coal Creek Station, is one of the nation’s most polluting plants, spewing over 800 pounds of mercury, 24,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, four million pounds of coal waste, and a staggering 10 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.
North Dakota’s climate is beginning to spiral out of control. In the last twenty years, Red River floods expected to occur at Fargo only once every 10 years have happened every two to three years. 2009’s unprecedented flooding made it the third year in a row with at least a “ten-year flood.” Pomeroy has two children — whose future he is putting at grave risk, all for the sake of donors like American Crystal Sugar ($99,025), whose facilities rely on coal plants, and the electric utilities who have given him $210,860.