This is not helping me keep my blood pressure down.
Poor, poor coal executive feels persecuted:
A senior coal company executive on Wednesday lambasted U.S. lawmakers for proposing caps on emissions blamed for global warming, saying the Democrats were out to destroy America’s coal industry.
Robert Murray, chairman, president and chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., also blasted the federal government’s mine safety agency for “outrageous” new fines that he warned could put some miners out of business.
[More deep breaths]
OK, the deep breaths aren’t working.
Hey, Murray, screw you, and screw your corrupt, vicious, law-breaking, public-teat-sucking, mountain-blowing-up, working-poor-killing, planet-destroying dinosaur of an industry. The sooner the world is rid of you the better. Crawl back under your rock.
[Leaves to get a cup of coffee and read a few soothing smart-grid articles]
OK, OK. Here’s something calmer:
Look, the coal industry is still large and very influential. It’s going to take some time to transition to clean energy, so its influence will be around for a while. Of course politicians have to go out of their way to assure everyone that coal still has a role to play. Of course "prominent environmentalist" David Hawkins of the NRDC has to rush in and say, "We don’t see a conflict between protecting the climate and continuing to use reasonable amounts of coal." Nobody in positions of power can afford to take on Big Coal directly.
But I’m not a politician or a prominent environmentalist, so I don’t have to bullshit. The goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Of course the goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Coal is filthy. It destroys ecosystems to dig it up. It kills the people who work around it. Coal plants throw particulates in the air and causes respiratory ailments. They throw mercury in the water and causes birth defects. They throw CO2 into the atmosphere and causes global warming. The coal industry corrupts the political process. It lies to the public about global warming, and mine safety, and coal reserves, and everything else. It leeches money and opportunity out of the states where it is based.
The only reason we think of coal as "cheap" is that we don’t tally all those costs in the debit column.
We still use it because of inertia — we have an enormous infrastructure built up around it; the industry has insinuated itself into our political system; we’ve never forced the industry to internalize its costs so the market can develop alternatives. We’ll be using it one way or another for the foreseeable future. But long-term, 50, 75 years down the road, yeah, eliminating the coal industry is the only sane goal.
Sure, the industry employs lots of people. So did lots of other industries that progress left behind. We’ll need to put money into caring for the working people the industry employs, retraining them, finding them new jobs, bolstering the social safety net that protects them from falling between the cracks. But make no mistake: the concern for "workers" from coal executives is pure crocodile tears. Nobody has done more to fight against safety regulations for workers, health compensation for workers, and collective bargaining rights for workers than coal executives. Nobody has done more to lock workers into crappy jobs with no futures. Coal executives treat the working class people in the states they inhabit like disposable trash. Big Coal has sapped Appalachia of money and opportunities and left behind sickness and despair. They don’t give a shit about workers. They care about money — that’s it.
Murray’s company, by the way, is notorious for safety violations and union-busing, and Murray is a notoriously large donor to Republicans (here are the candidates that have received money from the Murray Energy PAC). So yeah, I’m sure workers’ welfare keeps him up at night.
Robert Murray and his ilk are loathsome leeches on this country — on its values, its economy, its democracy. They are literally driving humanity toward a cliff, and doing so with a pampered sense of entitlement and martyrdom. They can, collectively, kiss my ass.