A Rare Act of Political Courage


    Cross-posted at Daily Kos

    Yes, this is a tough time to read the news.  From the Republicans’ economic terrorism to the bloodbath in Oslo, it’s pretty grim out there.  You just want to throw away your papers and smartphones and iPads and go for a walk in the park – except that then you might melt, since decades of inaction and denial on climate change have now produced Warmaggedon.  

    But don’t give up hope.  We – and the media especially – tend to focus on the bad news, but there’s always progress being made too.  Like, amidst the vast flock of politicians abandoning all principle and reason to kiss up to Big Oil and Big Coal and Big Kochs, the one the other day who said “Enough!”

    That would be New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pledged $50 million of his own smackers to the Sierra Club campaign to stop coal-fired power plants.  We’re talking real money here – as he put it in a tweet, “Bloomberg is all in.”  

    Now just think about this for a moment.  Most of our politicians are so scared of the fossil fuel lobbies that the entire Republican membership of the House just voted against efficient light bulbs – even though these efficiency rules will save the US a whopping $12.5 billion.  The same GOP votes just about every week to support climate change denial.  And too many of Democrats go along when they think they can get away with it – like our own Senators Warner and Webb pushing for an amendment to expedite oil drilling off our beautiful Virginia coast.  

    Virginia’s Attorney General Cuccinelli, as usual, fills the far side of this continuum, by taking money from the criminally negligent coal thugs at Massey Energy and then using his position to literally treat climate scientists as criminals.

    It’s all pretty depressing – which makes it all the more stunning and uplifting to see one politician demonstrate the cojones to launch a full frontal assault against two of the most powerful industries in America, the coal mining companies and the utilities that rely on them.  Bloomberg is providing real leadership and real money that will allow the Sierra Club to log more real results – actual coal-powered plants closed down or never built at all.  

    That means a lot, if you care about moving away from fossil fuels and away from ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.  And it means a lot if, like me, you had a mom who never smoked a day in her life, but died from lung cancer – because, I can only presume, she lived her life in a big city with major air pollution.  

    Just as cowardice can spread, so can courage.  When your politicians wimp out to Big Coal and Big Oil, point to Bloomberg, and ask “If he can do it, why can’t you?”  No, most elected officials don’t have $50 million to give, but they do have their votes, and more importantly, they have their voices. Bloomberg shows it’s not impossible for a politician to challenge the industries that have our economy and our future by the throat.    

    If more politicians start acting like Bloomberg did in this case, it means that we will have an actual future to look forward to.  Let’s celebrate him for it, and vigorously challenge others to follow.  


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