Friday, February 19, 2010

Gold Medal for Gall

First, my apologies to the neighbors: Watching the Winter Olympics the other night I think I uttered a sound somewhere between a Lindsey Vonn triump-shriek and a Howard Dean scream. What was the cause of my outburst? Was it Yevgeny Plushenko's haircut; Apollo Ohno's annoying little beard; or the dearth of Olympic-level Welsh snowboarders? No, it was the coal commercial.

What glued me to my seat during the the commercial break (the point at which I usually head to the kitchen) was a coal ad that managed to combine carbon sequestration with a soldier serving overseas. I couldn't quite connect the dots but, after my initial high-decibel response, I reflected on the sheer scale of the achievement and raised my beer in a salute to the spin doctors of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the fossil-fuel front group. Riding high on their success in snagging $3.8 billion of our money in last year's stimulus bill, the coal industry has pulled off the truly Olympian feat of bracketing their climate-changing, asthma-inducing product with athletics and heroism.

Climate vandalism as athletic patriotism; I hadn't thought of it that way before. If I was in charge of medal distribution, they'd get a gold for gall.

But I'm not in charge of medal distribution, nor am I in charge of tax-dollar distribution. That's the remit of the Democratic Congress and White House, which recently treated their fossil-fuel and tree-burning allies to a few bucket-loads of loot while underwriting loans for the nuclear lobby. For example, they're giving $1 billion to the coal industry to build a new "clean coal" (sic) plant in Illinois and $8 billion in federal loan guarantees for two new nuclear reactors in Georgia. That's spreading the wealth around, all right.

On a happier note, before settling down with the family to watch the Winter Olympics I had been at a Green Party meeting in Amherst where two statewide candidates, Jill Stein (running for Governor) and Nat Fortune (running for State Auditor), made the case for voting GRP in the November elections.

When a member of the audience asked Jill what we should do about the coal-burning power station at Mount Tom, her answer was simple and direct: "We need to close it down."

Amen to that.

1 comment:

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