Flickr photo by Exothermic
Appalachian coal interests pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into political campaigns each election cycle, but hardly any of the money finds its way into California campaigns.
In the heartland, Big Coal is a powerful lobby. Some Midwestern states get more than 80 percent of their electricity from coal, and mines employ thousands of people. But the Golden State has no coal industry to speak of, and it gets its electricity from natural gas, hydropower and nuclear plants.
Nevertheless, Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately owned coal producer, has made donations in California campaigns twice this year.
In February, as California Watch has reported, Murray Energy’s political committee and executives, including combative CEO Robert Murray, combined to contribute nearly $25,000 to GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign against Barbara Boxer, the incumbent Democrat.
(At the same Ohio fundraiser, Fiorina obtained an additional $39,000 from Midwestern companies that sell coal mining equipment and supplies.)
Then, in May, Murray Energy donated $30,000 to California’s Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s AB 32 anti-global warming measure until the economy rebounds from the recession. Another donor, the American Coalition For Clean Coal Electricity, a Washington, D.C.-lobbying group, gave $5,000. Prop. 23 is sponsored by the energy industry, and its biggest booster is the Valero Energy Corp. from San Antonio, Texas.
Beyond the donations to Fiorina and Prop. 23, coal concerns haven’t had much to do with California politics. Coal PAC, the industry lobby, has made occasional donations to California members of Congress, federal records show. In recent years, Coal PAC has donated $16,500 to former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy; $7,000 to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Clovis; $5,250 to Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands; $4,500 to Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico; $2,500 to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista; and $500 to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach.
Also, in 2000, four Pennsylvania coal companies donated to California’s state Democratic committee. They were Bologna Coal ($479); Camelot Coal ($383); Forcey Coal $200); and Miller Brothers Coal ($250).
Why the interest this year?
Ohio environmentalists presume that Murray, who has dismissed global warming as “hysterical global goofiness,” would like to take out Boxer, a liberal and a big booster of measures to check climate change. The two went head-to-head over the issue at a 2007 Senate hearing.
Perhaps Murray also regards California’s AB 32, which would roll back the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, as more goofiness. He’s been scathing in his criticism of Congressional efforts to counter climate change, as he showed when he gave a tongue-lashing to the Senate’s committee on environment and public works in 2007 testimony. Former Vice President Al Gore and "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson were handled roughly, as well. An excerpt:
The hysterical and out-of-control climate change or global warming issue, and the legislation that you have proposed, will lead to the deterioration of the American standard of living and the accelerated exportation of more of our jobs to China and other developing countries, which have repeatedly advised, as recent as last week, that they will not limit their carbon dioxide emissions.
According to a Pennsylvania State University study, replacing two-thirds of United States coal-based energy with higher-priced energy will cost America 3 million jobs, with an upward estimate of possibly 4 million American livelihoods.
Albert Gore touts that his role model has always been Rachel Carson, with her picture on his wall, who led the environmental movement to ban DDT. She and her environmental followers killed millions of human beings around the world with the ban on DDT, which has since been found by the World Health Organization to be very safe to humans in controlling global epidemics.
It seems to us that the leadership of this Congress, with the support of the majority of this committee and some Republicans, are intent in helping Mr. Gore and those of his ilk in achieving his unquestionable legacy, which will be the destruction of American lives and more death as a result of his hysterical global goofiness, with no environmental benefit. This then will be your legacy, also, as our current Congressional leadership indicates from your statements and actions to date.