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Craigslist ad for coal backing tee shirt wearers
Cheaper than buying a congressperson.
In Chicago and Washington Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency held the first of its hearings on a carbon pollution standard for new power plants. The coal industry, which objected to standards curtailing mercury and other toxic emissions imposed on power plants earlier this year by the EPA, decided to show "grassroots" support in opposition to the proposed standard. So it put the above ad on Craigslist seeking people to attend the hearing wearing a t-shirt "in support of an energy project." No mention of coal.

Power plants annually add some two billion tons of carbon and other pollutants to the air. The EPA carbon rule would cap emissions at 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour produced. An analysis by the Center for American Progress calculates that the new rule would reduce pollution emissions added from 22 pending new power plants by 123 billion pounds, a 56 percent decrease from what they would produce without the regulation.

Requiring new power plants to take steps to limit their carbon pollution will force them to “internalize” or account for pollution that they formerly emitted into the air for free. Previously, society bore the costs from these emissions such as extreme weather. These additional costs may make some proposed coal-fired power plants uneconomical, so they may be canceled.
T-shirt in support of coal
All I got was $50, lunch and a t-shirt for shills.
That, of course, gores the coal industry's ox. It's been pouring prodigious amounts of money into lobbying and advertising efforts. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity—a lobbying group—launched a $40 million media campaign recently to defeat both the carbon standard and the one curtailing mercury and other toxics. But rounding up "grassroots" volunteers to show the industry's flag apparently isn't so easy anymore. Hence, the Craigslist ad, first rumored by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago and tracked down by the Sierra Club. At the hearings, members of the Sierra Club took a few photos like the one on the right.

The externalities that the EPA carbon standards would force the industry to "internalize" are truly horrific. Health costs, according to The New York Academy of Sciences: $62 billion a year. Climate change, the World Health Organization estimated three years ago, kills 150,000 people a year. Climate change also creates extreme weather events. In 2011, there were 14 of those with devastation estimated above $1 billion each.

Fifty bucks and lunch for a couple of hours work is a lot cheaper than buying congresspersons. Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who has made a reputation for himself with his crusade claiming climate change is a hoax, has received $180,000 over the past four years from electric utilities. He's vowed to kill the carbon standard by bringing it up for a vote in the Senate.

On the other side, however, is real grassroots support for the carbon and mercury standards. At a "Rebel with a Cause" gala in Denver Thursday night, surprise guest Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, told the crowd about the hearings: “What’s really neat is the thousands of people who came because they care, the moms who came."


What's needed to make the standard a reality in the face of industry's millions are more people, moms and others, who pay for their own t-shirts.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri May 25, 2012 at 03:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, German American Friendship Group, and Daily Kos.

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