Sometimes I wonder whether Mitch McConnell used to ask Santa to put a lump of coal in his stocking. He certainly does love the stuff and those who sell it. (They don’t “produce” it; the earth does that.) And while the rest of the world is trying to reduce its dependence on coal, the Majority Leader is on a single-minded crusade to ensure we keep burning as much as we can. It's good for us. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an average-sized coal plant annually discharges: 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of chopping down 161 million trees); 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide; 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxides (equal to 500,000 new cars); hundreds of pounds of mercury, arsenic, lead; and on and on.
Last week McConnell wrote all 50 governors, urging them to simply ignore the administration’s regulations aimed at a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, adding that “the real danger [is] allowing the EPA to wrest control of a state’s energy policy.” This is part of a political and legal counterattack on President Obama’s “war on coal,” and it's not to be taken lightly. Laurence Tribe, Obama’s Harvard Law School mentor, testified that the EPA’s “energy” plan amounted to “burning the Constitution,” an issue likely to appeal to five Supreme Court justices I could name.
But EPA stands for Environmental Protection, not Energy Production, and as the Nixon administration learned 45 years ago, it requires a national effort to safeguard our air and water. We need one now.