Supreme Court Decision Unleashes Big Coal and Big Oil

Who would have thought that the two most important climate developments of 2010 would, on the surface, have nothing to do with climate change? First, on Tuesday, Republican Scott Brown won the election in Massachusetts to fill Senator Kennedy’s former seat and became the “41st vote” against not only health care, but cap-and-trade legislation in Congress.

Today, in an even more important development, the Supreme Court overturned two precedents and swept aside a “century-old understanding” to allow corporate spending in elections. In the words of Barack Obama,

“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

That doesn’t sound good at all, does it? In a time when anti-corporate/anti-big bank fervor has never been higher, I think this decision is a watershed moment: not only a sign of how powerful our opposition is, but also an opportunity for the climate movement to think hard about how to tap into American’s mistrust of big-business and corporations to further a clean energy and climate agenda.

What do you think? Are we targeting big coal and big oil enough? Is an oppositional strategy the wrong way forward? How can we counter what will be a massive influx of special interest money in the 2010 elections? Or is this all a bunch of malarkey and we should really just go back to changing light bulbs?

2 Responses to “Supreme Court Decision Unleashes Big Coal and Big Oil”


  1. 1 comdenom Jan 21st, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Look into the history of government and relationships that provide campaign funds. Is Obama saying one thing and delivering another? We have to save ourselves because government + power = a necessary evil. We are to blame for this mess, because we haven’t kept the rampant supercilious corruptness under control. The corruption is so widespread it infinitely convolutes deciphering where to begin cleaning it up. Perhaps constant reminders that man is inherently evil would help, no wait…we’re reminded of that daily, perhaps then it’s a refusal to connect the dots.

    So is big business the real problematic issue?

    Is adherence to the global warming scare and environmental movement founded?

    How rational is it to force nations to retract usage of fossil fuels and dependence on coal for electricity by implementing higher costs to end users when no adequate (reliable, widespread and economically feasible) replacement system has even been set up. There isn’t, even viable bridge systems in place for transition.

    The pie-in-the-sky ideologies of the environmental movements have not rationally thought things through. This begs the question; what is the desired end result of the movement? Is it absolutely no usage of earth’s natural resources?

    Do the materials used for producing windmills and solar systems not come from and a result of ravaging the earth? Even if we lived in caves and our only nutritious sustenance were naturally grown grains, the process of digging those caves would be considered raping the earth and altering its esthetics or uncover inorganic substances that may be transposed into our atmosphere and water supply. Let’s not forget impeding or destruction of biodiversity and impending species extinction caused by eating the grains.

    As far as the impending climate disaster is concerned, do you choose to believe the science that governments paid to produce (with established motive), even in the face of massive contradicting evidence?

    The inherent problem with man’s wit is we foolishly think we are in control.

  2. 2 Scott Jan 21st, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting isn’t it? Polls show that distrust and dislike of big business is as high as distrust and dislike of the government, yet they are able to pull of coups like this. IMHO, we’re not targeting Big Coal and Big near enough. We’re only scratching the surface. They give millions to lobbying and elections (which i’m guessing is going to grow exponentially), while we scrape by with much much less. The climate action and climate justice movements need to take a que from recent global justice movements and seriously start targeting the real roots of climate change-Corporate America.

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About Jamie


Jamie is the co-coordinator of 350.org, an international global warming campaign. A recent college graduate, he lives in San Francisco, CA. In 2007, he co-organized Step It Up, a campaign that pulled together over 2,000 climate rallies across the United States to push for strong climate action at the federal level. He's also an early member of the youth climate movement, leading one of Energy Action's first campaigns in 2005: Road to Detroit, a nationwide veggie-oil bus tour to promote sustainable transportation. He's traveled to Montreal and Bali to lobby the UN with youth, but he's a strong believer that change happens in the streets not in meetings. Jamie received the Morris K. Udall award in 2007 and has been recognized by the mighty state of Vermont for his work on climate change. You can also find him blogging at Campus Progress' "Pushback," Changents.com, and 350.org.

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