Look what we found in the swamp to oversee the prosecution of crimes against the environment
From Lee Fang in The Intercept:
Donald Trump Puts Coal Lobbyist in Charge of Prosecuting Environmental Crimes
A LOBBYIST FOR a utility company that heavily relies on coal-fueled power plants and has clashed with regulators is the new acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice division that oversees environmental crimes.
The appointment of Jeffery H. Wood, who up until last week was a lobbyist for Southern Company, was announced only with a modest notice posted on January 23 on the Environment and Natural Resource Division’s website.
I'll bet the coal companies and utilities are really worried about this guy.
Republican lawmakers appear poised to roll back Obama administration rules as soon as next week. Meanwhile, Trump administration appointees are also well-positioned to block enforcement of any environmental regulation opposed by industry.
And then there is West Virginia's own version of Donald Trump
We learned in October about then candidate-for-governor Jim Justice's $15 million tax bill. From an AP article earlier today:
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Mining operations controlled by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice haven't paid $4.6 million in safety fines and penalties, according to federal authorities.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration said that was the unpaid balance as of Wednesday.
And where have we seen this before?
Justice listed 50 companies involved in mining in his financial disclosure last year at the state ethics commission. He has said he'll put his businesses now run by his children in a blind trust while governor. The ethics commission hasn't approved such a trust.
And how about his dealings with a Russian company?
He pointed out that he's paid many tax debts owed by his companies' former owners. Last year when he completed a $5 million buyback of Mechel Bluestone Inc. from Russian company Mechel OAO, there were outstanding delinquent taxes of $2.5 million each to McDowell and Wyoming counties.
"The Russians would have never paid them, and I paid them in full," Justice said.
Analyzing pro-coal rhetoric
Finally, a number of environmental sources have included this well-documented, very-readable, academic article from The Conversation on their own site:
Inside the coal industry’s rhetorical playbook
The article begins by explaining the use of the phrase "war on coal":
The often repeated slogan indexes a set of attitudes and assumptions about government regulation and environmentalism. The foremost is the belief that the (liberal, overreaching) federal government has it out for coal and the American way of life that coal supports.
The authors then explain what most analysis have concluded: that it is market forces, especially natural gas, that has brought about the major decline in coal production in recent years. As they note:
Still, the “war on coal” rhetoric persists. But why? We investigated the public communication strategies used by the industry and found some consistent patterns.
The rest of the article is a detailed analysis of five strategies used by the coal industry to persuade the American public. For example, here's part of the "corporate ventriloquism" strategy:
Coal also enlists a wide array of voices to speak in ways that advance its interests. We call this corporate ventriloquism. It creates the appearance of broad public support for coal and conflates support for “America” with support for coal through the use of voices ranging from local “grassroots” organizations to national campaigns. Campaigns and organizations such as Friends of Coal, a West Virginia-based advocacy group, and America’s Power, a coal industry trade association, emphasize the monolithic support the coal industry claims to enjoy among everyday Americans.
(The section reminded me of our local astroturf group, the Valley Jobs Alliance.)
If you haven't seen it, it's an excellent article.