Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bernie Sanders to Jim Inhofe: "Stop Poisoning Our Children"


Blue America has only endorsed ONE senator running for reelection-- ONE. And here's an example of why: Wednesday Bernie Sanders stood up on the floor of the Senate (video above) and called on Jim Inhofe to "stop poisoning our children" for the sake of his campaign donors. Inhofe is a blatant corporate whore who has taken $2,294,442 in bribes from energy and natural resources companies, more than any other current Members of Congress other than McCain (R-AZ), Joe Barton (R-TX), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Miss McConnell (R-KY). The legislation he proposed in the Senate-- which Bernie's barn-burner speech helped defeat-- was meant to exempt coal companies from EPA emission standards meant to protect the public from mercury poisoning. Inhofe's resolution was defeated 46-53, with 5 Republicans too ashamed to go along with Inhofe's deadly proposal. They crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. On the way across, of course, they passed an equal number of Democratic corporate whores-- Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin, Jim Webb, Mark Warner, and Mary Landrieu-- going in the other direction. Miraculously, conservative Democrats Claire McCaskill, Tom Carper, Mark Begich and Jon Tester stuck with the Democrats. And even more miraculously, coal state advocate Jay Rockefeller had a profile in courage moment that could hurt him politically in West Virginia in 2014.
Standing at the back of the Senate chamber with a handful of his colleagues looking on, the 75-year-old Democrat delivered a lofty speech before the vote, warning that attempts to demonize air pollution rules will only hurt the coal industry as it tries to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging economic environment. Calling the Inhofe effort “foolish,” Rockefeller said the long-term health effects of the rule would be “enormous.”

“This is a critical and contentious time in the Mountain State,” Rockefeller said. “The dialogue on coal, its impacts and the federal government’s role has reached a fevered pitch. ... West Virginians understandably worry that a way of life and the dignity of a job is at stake. Change and uncertainty in the coal industry is unsettling.

“But my fear is that concerns are also being fueled by the narrow view of others with divergent motivations-- one that denies the inevitability of change in the energy industry, and unfairly leaves coal miners in the dust,” Rockefeller said. “The reality is that many who run the coal industry today would rather attack false enemies and deny real problems than find solutions.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a staunch ally of the environmental community, immediately hailed the speech.

“I believe when the next historian writes a book about leadership, courage and integrity in the United States Senate, that this speech today will be featured in that book,” she said.

Rockefeller's stand is particularly compelling in light of an AP/Roper poll that came out this week highlighting the public's intense concerns about national health care policy. If the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Healthcare Act, as seems likely, 77% of respondents want the president and Congress to come up with a better system. Only 19% of Americans agree with the Republicans that the system is fine the way it is.

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