From the Wonk Room.
During the Democratic National Convention, the Rocky Mountain Roundtable hosted a day-long symposium on energy and climate change. One session included top officials from major global warming polluters: the electric utility Xcel Energy, Arch Coal, Dow Chemical, the natural gas corporation GHK, and the top coal corporation Peabody Energy. The five men have, of course, become millionaires as their companies have spewed millions of tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. At the roundtable, the pollution executives defended government subsidies for their respective industries, claimed solidarity with average Americans, and pooh-poohed any possibility of change from the status quo:
- Xcel Energy CEO Dick Kelly complained, “Consumers want access to renewable energy and information. People have expectations that the solutions are readily available. That’s not true.”
- Arch Coal CEO Steven Leer — whose company has spent decades litigating and lobbying against the Clean Air Act — admitted, “The Clean Air Act worked.” Leer, who owns $27 million in Arch stock options, continued, “Everybody’s seen pain at the pump.”
- Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris — who made $10 million last year and has fired 7,000 American workers — complained, “It’s been a tough couple of years,” and urged the audience, “We can’t as a government abdicate helping corporations.”
- GHK founder Robert A. Hefner III argued, “We can have totally green natural gas plants” in order “to replace coal.”
- Peabody Executive Vice President Fred Palmer — a $25,000 donor to Gingrich’s ASWF 527 corporation — claimed “Clean coal is not an oxymoron.” He then stated, “The United States is not the problem,” putting the blame on China.
I interviewed Jessy Tolkan, leader of the Power Vote campaign and executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, for a response:
As one of the most powerful voting blocs in America, we are going to make it abundantly clear that we don’t want an abundance of dirty energy in this country. We want an abundance of clean energy, and we’re going to force our elected officials to listen to us and not the oil and coal and natural gas industry.
In the interview, Tolkan also called Newt Gingrich’s “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign “a bunch of bullshit,” saying she’s still naive enough believe we should tell the truth. Tolkan recommends that everyone check out PowerVote.org and join the Energy Action Coalition on Sept. 27 during the Green Jobs Now Day of Action.
See also the Wonk Room video interview with Van Jones of Green For All.