Last spring, I spent an entire semester working for Congressman Ed Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. I can say unequivocally, that out of 435 members, Markey is our biggest champion in the United States House of Representatives. Many other members of Congress are still supporters of the coal industry, and I encourage you all to read this article in The Hill, about the recent Subcommittee hearing on “clean coal.”
Markey is different. He understands that coal is not clean, and during a recent hearing for the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, Markey gave the coal industry an ultimatum. Essentially, Chairman Markey challenged the coal industry to prove that coal-fired power plants will not harm our environment.
We all know that coal can never be clean. Extraction of fossil fuels harms communities across our country, threatens ecosystems, and destroys mountains and watersheds. Congressman Markey held a hearing with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., highlighting the destructive nature of the coal industry (See RFK Jr.’s Testimony and Video). He also held two hearings with youth testifying about coal and our future (in 2007 and 2009). To top it all off, Congressman Ed Markey introduced legislation last year to place a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants without emissions controls. This is a great step, with Congressmen Markey and Waxman leading the way to a clean and just climate future.
We need to put pressure on the fence-sitters and our opponents, who think that continuing to use coal-fired power, with or without CCS, is an option for our future. Congressmen Markey is in our camp – we need to convince his other 434 colleagues to take as bold of a stand against the powerful coal industry as we have seen him take over the past few years.
I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting for a clean and just climate – whether its through CALPIRG’s campaign to clean up the Port of Oakland or standing in solidarity with my friends to close down Capitol Hill’s coal fired power plant. Attacking our biggest champion in Congress will not help us achieve our goals, but putting pressure on the other members of Congress is the way to make the future, we envision, a reality.