Thursday, January 14, 2016

Big Coal Has Something For Folks In Mining Areas, Courtesy Of The GOP: Toxic Drinking Water


Tuesday, in all the hubbub over the State of the Union, the House sat down to pass another piece of toxic legislation-- literally toxic legislation-- while no one was looking. They passed H.R. 1644, a bill to block the Department of Interior’s proposed Stream Protection Rule that aims to better protect mining communities from the harmful impacts of coal mining pollution. It makes drinking water less safe and less clean but helps the bottom line of the big polluters who dole out millions encamping cash to conservative politicians in return for permission to freely dump toxic waste into America's waterways. It was a happy day for coal mining companies. The bill passed 235-188, although 10 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats rather than be a party to poisoning the drinking water of millions of unsuspecting Americans in coal mining districts.

On the other hand, 4 of Congress' most corrupt right-wing Democrats, Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and, of course, Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP and the polluters. Without massive financial assistance from the DCCC neither Costa nor Peterson could even compete in the 2016 elections. But what kind of a waste of money is that?

And then yesterday the Republicans passed a kind of companion resolution, S.J. 22, a resolution of disapproval of President Obama's Clean Water Act Rule issued in June 2015, seeking to invalidate the entire rule and overturn years of work to define "waters of the United States," reintroducing confusion and uncertainty to regulated industries and concerned communities. This time a full dozen, mostly corrupt, conservative Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP and it passed 253-166. The culprits:
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
John Garamendi (CA)
Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Marc Veasey (TX)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
Tim Walz (MN)
Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, an outspoken and career-long champion of environmental protections opposed both these moves. This morning she told her constituents that chipping away at regulations meant to protect safe drinking water is unacceptably dangerous. "Last night," she explained, "President Obama’s State of the Union address urged us to come together to overcome challenges and fix our broken politics. Instead, we again see more of the same from my Republican colleagues. This time, they passed two pieces of legislation that threaten one of our nation’s most vital resources: clean water. 67 percent of Marylanders-- 2 out of 3 residents-- get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams. If these measures become law, at least 59 percent of Maryland’s stream miles that feed into our drinking water sources would be at risk of pollution from development and industrial activities. The aim of these actions by the Republican majority is nothing more than to appease their corporate special interests. It is a shame, when we should be debating and addressing issues that will help working families and move the country forward. I look forward to President Obama vetoing both of these irresponsible and destructive measures."

Donna is running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland sand Blue America has endorsed her because of her record of standing up and fighting for progressive values. Her opponent is an establishment guy who goes along to get along-- not usually horrible, but not special. Donna is special. Another candidate for Senate, P.G. Sittenfeld in Ohio, also noticed what Republicans are up to. The incumbent he's running against, Rob Portman, who has taken $162,835 in campaign contributions from Big Coal so far, voted for S.J. 22 when it first came up this past summer. "Ohioans," PG told us, "and especially the people of Toledo whose drinking water is perennially threatened by toxic fertilizer run-off into Lake Erie, know the importance of protecting the water we drink. So do the people of Flint, Michigan who now find their drinking water laced with lead. But corporate polluters have always cared more about their bottom lines than they do about the health of regular people. In the Senate, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll do everything I can to preserve and protect the water we drink, the air that we breathe, and the only planet we will ever have."

Three amendments were voted down. Dan Kildee, who represents Flint, where GOP water policies are poisoning children, would have prevented the rules in the bill from being delayed if it protects drinking water quality. It failed, although 15 Republicans crossed the aisle and voted to not poison children with polluted drinking water. Matt Cartwright's amendment would have directed funding from AML certified states for use in revitalizing economically distressed communities which have been adversely affected by discharge from abandoned mine lands. That failed too, although by a closer 203-219 vote, with 22 Republican voting with all but 3 bad Dems. And the other amendment, from Terri Sewell, sought to lower the threshold of postponing the delay of a rule if there is a threat that a delay would cause or significantly contribute to the development of negative chronic or long-term health conditions. That was also voted down but Sewell voted for the rotten bill anyway. The only Democrat who voted with the GOP on every single aspect of this was... Minnesota Blue Dog Collin Peterson, who seems determined to prove to be the worst Democrat in Congress.

Donna and P.G. are on the same page in terms of protecting clean drinking water-- and on this same page as well. Both have been endorsed by Blue America and both are running smart, cost-efficient campaigns against opponents heavily funded by special interest groups.

So far this cycle, the big coal companies have contributed $640,151 to congressional campaigns. Of that, just $11,000 has gone to House Democrats:
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- $2,500
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- $2,000
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- $2,000
Ben Ray Luján (NM)- $2,000
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- $1,500
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $1,000
I noticed Big Coal is also picking their pro-pollution champion in the Pennsylvania Senate primary with a nice $2,700 contribution to the transactional Schumercrat in the race, Katie McGuinty. The Republican incumbent, Pat Toomey, is one of Big Coal's all time champions though, so maybe the money to McGuinty is just a little insurance in case Toomey stumbles and, by some miracle, she's the nominee. 

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