On Earth Day 2010, Green Party candidates and leaders said that coal and offshore drilling for oil represented two severe threats to America's public and environmental well-being, and urged President Obama and Congress to reverse course on both.
Greens demand an end to mountaintop removal mining, poisoning of water, lethal worker safety violations, and industry corruption and control over government policy
Obama's offshore drilling plans threaten Alaska and the Atlantic coast with public health disasters and devastations of natural habitats
WASHINGTON, DC -- On Earth Day 2010, Green Party candidates and leaders said that coal and offshore drilling for oil represented two severe threats to America's public and environmental well-being, and urged President Obama and Congress to reverse course on both.
"There are millions of jobs waiting to be created in conservation, retrofitting, new and clean energy sources, expansion of public transportation, and environmental clean-up," said Martin Zehr, co-chair of the Green Party's EcoAction Committee. "President Obama promised many such jobs, declaring correctly that they would help jump-start the economy. Instead, we're seeing no cessation of mountaintop removal mining, continued promotion of the 'clean coal' myth, and a new White House plan to open up 167 million acres of ocean along America's pristine Alaskan and Atlantic coasts for offshore oil and gas drilling."
"It's not a matter of only reducing foreign oil imports. The century of global climate change demands that we drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption and replace it with alternative kinds of energy," said Mr. Zehr.
"The coal industry's corruption and reckless disregard for human life were on display when 29 non-union miners lost their lives in West Virginia on April 5 because of Massey Energy's failure to correct serious safety violations regarding the ventilation of methane gas. The same disregard is behind the coal industry's mountaintop removal mining operations, which are turning West Virginia and parts of other states into crater-covered, highly toxic landscapes. It's time to end disastrous practices that pervert the very potential of a sustainable coal economy, and bring millions of skilled, high-paying new jobs to these states in conversion to clean energy," said Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. (The Mountain Party (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=34077835814&ref=ts / http://www.mtparty.org) is affiliated with the Green Party of the United States.)
"Mortality in Appalachian Coal Mining Regions: The Value of Statistical Life Lost," a study published in the July-August issue of Public Health Reports (http://www.health.wvu.edu/newsreleases/news-details.aspx?ID=1217), reports that, while coal mining contributed about $8 billion to the economies of Appalachian states, the costs of reduced life-spans associated with coal mining were $17 billion to $84.5 billion due to the continued use of illegal and immoral non-union mining practices.
The Green Party has demanded a halt to mountaintop-removal operations, which have destroyed over 500 mountains in West Virginia, filled in nearly 1500 miles of head waters, and caused toxins to be dumped into freshwater streams and rivers. The Public Health Reports studied offered evidence that the coal industry is causing sickness and early death not just among coalminers but among populations living near mines, processing plants, and transportation centers. The combined effects have elevated poverty rates in Appalachian states and beyond.
Greens have disputed industry claims that 'clean coal' can be a safe, alternative energy source that will help curb greenhouse gas emissions (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=242).
"We are shocked that President Obama has reversed his campaign position and adopted the Republicans' 'drill, baby, drill' agenda," said Dr. Jill Stein, Green Rainbow Party candidate for Governor of Massachusetts (http://www.jillstein.org). "The President intends to allow the fossil fuel industry to drill in wide ocean expanses that have been off-limits to drilling for two decades. There is no way to guarantee complete safety from spills. If part of the east coast of the US suffered a spill comparable to the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, the result would be a catastrophe for public health and valuable natural habitats."
Besides the Exxon Valdez and other spills, Greens pointed to Tuesday's massive explosion aboard an oil platform off the Louisiana coast, in which 11 workers remain missing, as evidence of the risks of offshore drilling.
Greens said that the offshore drilling plan proves that the Democrat-Republican leadership is more interested in bipartisan agreements that satisfy the demands of Big Oil rather than a solution to America's fossil-fuel addiction as the effects of global warming continue to mount. Green leaders especially faulted Democrats for not renewing annual bans on offshore drilling beginning in 2008.
President Obama's capitulations to energy lobbies -- also evidenced by his plan to construct new nuclear power plants (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=297) -- have now surpassed those of President Bush, a former oil executive and enthusiastic ally of such industries.