Posts tagged ‘Environmental Protection Agency’

06/14/2012

Coal: Why Don’t Republicans Discuss It?

During the Republican debates, aside from Gov. Romney’s comment that he would promote coal, and Sen. Santorum’s disclosure that he served on a coal company board, the other conservatives simply encouraged oil and gas drilling, criticized clean energy like solar and wind, but said nothing about coal.

Although Republicans argued in favor of repealing regulations that interfere with energy, expressed a desire to eliminate the Energy Dept., and repeatedly demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency get out of the way, they were not specific.

So what would their coal policy be? The question is important because coal remains a major energy source. Large quantities of it are sold to electric power plants, as over half of all electric power in the U.S. is generated by coal. As coal is burned, it heats water in boilers, creates steam, spins turbines, and generates electricity.

The U.S. has one-third of the world’s coal supply, enough to mine for another 350 years. The U.S. started burning coal around 1850 and its use eventually turned America into a strong industrial nation. Most U.S. mining has been located in West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as other parts of the Appalachians, from Pennsylvania to Alabama.

Only Russia has greater coal reserves. Germany’s deposits are in the Ruhr River Valley, Britain’s are in Wales, and China’s are in Manchuria. Historically, coal fields were so important, nations fought wars over them. Germany and France, for example, battled over Alsace Lorraine, Saarland, and the Ruhr many times.

But what are the political issues in the U.S.? One issue concerns mine safety and the rights of coal miners, as coal mining is potentially dangerous. Most coal miners in the U.S. descend about 260 feet underground. Mines must be constructed properly and ventilated constantly. If the pillars in mines supporting their roofs collapse, cave-ins can be fatal. If the air flowing into the mines is interrupted, gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane can build up, catch fire, and explode causing death.

Another issue is the air pollution generated from burning coal. While some equipment eliminates some smoke and soot, there remain many environmental costs from using coal.

The two progressive forces that have protected workers regarding safety, and the public as to pollution, namely the unions and the Environmental Protection Agency, are being attacked by the Republicans.

Although the United Mine Workers Union contributed greatly to mine safety laws, such as the Coal Mine Inspection Act, the Republicans have declared war against all organized labor, and cannot be trusted do anything about mining safety complaints.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency has been the watchdog for the public as to air pollution generated by power plants, Republicans have pledged to abolish it, and our air will not be as safe, if the right-wing gains total control.

Although the Republicans have not clearly stated a coal policy, what they have said about destroying unions and dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency is all we need to know to figure out the rest. We should be concerned that if the right-wing takes total control, the coal industry will become more dangerous to workers, and the purity of the air will decline.

Advertisements
08/17/2011

Republican Debate Economics (8-11-11)

As the Republicans debated economic issues in Iowa, including the recent increase in the Debt Ceiling, many demonstrated an intellectual dishonesty, as they again pledged not to raise taxes, but simultaneously supported costly military expeditions abroad, two positions that will certainly force the U.S. to borrow billions.

TAXES: Gingrich continued to shovel the idea that tax cuts will led to growth, while Santorum and Cain, respectively, want to reduce to zero the Corporate Income Tax, and Capital Gains Tax.

BORROW-SPEND: The Republican refusal to raise taxes has led to borrowing and spending, which has sunk the nation deep into debt, leaving only two choices: 1) increase the Debt Ceiling and borrow so creditors who lent the money can be paid, or 2) default.

DEBT CEILING: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann demonstrated a stark ignorance regarding the economy, as she condemned her Republican colleagues for increasing the Debt Ceiling. She confused the issue by saying those who voted for an increase gave Obama money, when in fact all they did was prevent a default on loans already made. The new kid on the block, Herman Cain, also opposed an increase in the Debt Ceiling.

Former Utah Gov. Huntsmann, a voice of reason, said he would never let the U.S. default and called the National Debt a cancer. Former Sen. Santorum also said the Debt Ceiling had to be raised, but Romney just talked about upgrading the Mass. credit rating.

U.S. BUDGET: As to the Budget, Congressman Ron Paul wisely said if there are going to be any federal cuts, military budgets have got to be on the table. Former House leader Gingrich, criticized the Committee of 12, which was convened to resolve budget issues.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Paul’s weakest area is his distain for the Federal Reserve Board. As to monetary policies that have kept interest rates low, Paul was critical, saying they only distort the economy. Apparently, he does not think they will stimulate economic activity. At one point Paul said the U.S. owes the Federal Reserve 1.6 trillion, and the Fed should be audited. Paul’s comments were obviously popular with the partisan crowd, as they booed Santorum for attacking Paul. Gingrich joined Paul saying it is a scandal that the Fed deals with billions in secret, and does not explain who is bailed out, or why.

FREE TRADE & JOBS: On the issue of jobs and trade, Santorum, who consistently supported Free Trade while in the Senate, correctly pointed out the number of Americans employed in manufacturing dropped from 21% to 9%, but he offered no solutions. Romney said we need trade policies that work for us, but he also failed to give any details. When he was asked to explain why people were laid off from companies he owned, he had little to say.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Regarding the regulation of the environment, Huntsman, who owns a global corporation, said the EPA does not let businesses expand, and accused them of running a “reign of terror.”

HEALTH INSURANCE: On the economics of health, all of the Republicans of course piled on against the law the Democrats passed in 2009. Pawlenty said the Obama health care plan was modeled after Romney’s in Mass. Romney said the Mass plan was for one state, and the President’s is a one-size-fits-all, for the entire nation. He promised to grant waivers to any state that requested one.

As to the mandate to make people buy health insurance, Romney argued all have a personal responsibility to buy it. Paul said the insurance and drug companies love the mandate, and thought only doctors and patients would suffer. Bachmann thinks the government has no authority to force people buy health insurance, a position her activist right-wing friends on the Supreme Court will likely endorse. Gingrich suggested repealing Obamacare, but like the others, offered no answer to the health insurance crisis.

06/15/2011

Republican Debate New Hamp (6-13-11)

Seven Republicans answered questions on CNN on June 13 in their first presidential debate. Four of the seven are unlikely to get the nomination, because voters usually pick Governors or Senators, who have had statewide experience. Since House members Bachmann, Paul, and Gingrich have not served an entire state, and Cain has not held any office, they are not credible candidates. Of the three with credentials, former Sen. Santorum was beaten badly in a re-election bid in Pennsylvania, and he is damaged cargo. This leaves only two plausible candidates: former Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Romney of Massachusetts.

Before addressing Pawlenty and Romney, let’s examine what the party stands for by reviewing the statements of the others.

CAIN opposed auto industry loans that successfully saved GM and Chrysler, along with countless jobs. He supports Ryan’s voucher plan, which would destroy Medicare, as we know it. He would phase out Social Security Retirement, the most popular government program ever implemented. He would single out Muslims, in violation of the 1st Amendment, and would solve a problem that does not exist, by baring Sharia Law in U.S. Courts.

BACHMANN would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (yes, she really said this). She opposed government loans that prevented the recent Great Recession from becoming a Great Depression. She opposes the right to abortion. She criticized President Obama for working with allies like France, as to Libya.

GINGRICH would dismantle the National Labor Relations Board. He would not pay Medicare “crooks,” as he put it. He supports unconstitutional loyalty oaths for Muslims.

RON PAUL, usually an interesting man, would have denied government assistance to all private enterprise. He said average retirees draw three times as much as they contribute to Medicare, but his numbers need a fact-check. As to Afghanistan, he courageously said he would not duck the issue by waiting for the generals to act; he would pull out now, and would save billions of dollars.

SANTORUM criticized sending jobs overseas, yet he historically supported free trade. He opposed loans to help American industry. He supports the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, and apparently thinks elderly people will somehow be able to afford private health insurance premiums. He would not close U.S. military bases around the world, as he thinks we need every single one of them.

PAWLENTY opposes unions and labor laws that protect ordinary working people. He thinks Congress created the housing bubble, but did not explain. He supports an unspecified option, other than Medicare. When asked about separating church and state, he left non-believers out of the 1st Amendment, as he referred to “people of faith.” He is proudly pro-life. He would allow the 50 states to have their own immigration laws, even though the constitution clearly delegates naturalization to Congress. He promised to bomb other countries.

ROMNEY opposed the auto industry loans that successfully saved thousands of American jobs, saying he would have let them go bankrupt. He dodged a question about Afghanistan, and cowardly failed to indicate a willingness to withdraw, by saying he would instead defer to generals or conditions on the ground.

As a group, Republicans oppose saving American industry and their jobs. They oppose labor laws that protect ordinary working people. They would repeal environmental protection. They wish to destroy Medicare, as we know it. They appear to be ignorant of the problems with private health insurance. Some would end the Social Security Retirement System. They support a Christian Nation, to the exclusion of other faiths and non-believers. They would discriminate against Muslim-Americans and would require loyalty oaths. They would deny women the liberty to have an abortion. They talk about spending too much, but refuse to close unnecessary military bases around the globe, and promise no end to the waste of tax dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only thing they were really good at was convincing me not to vote for them.