The Common Good

Stop the Crippling of the Clean Air Act

The brazen chutzpah of Big Oil and Big Coal is amazing. Two months after Big Coal killed 28 workers in West Virginia, even less time since Big Oil poisoned our Gulf Coast and destroyed many livelihoods and a whole way of life -- they are trying to cripple the Clean Air Act and keep on drilling. The price? This time, our whole planet.

During the next two days on Capitol Hill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will bring to the floor a proposal to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating emissions of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases). She has at least 40 senatorial co-sponsors.

The EPA is the only U.S. national body that can address the greenhouse gas causes of global scorching. If they are crippled in this task, no one can do it.

You might wonder: why is Sen. Murkowski so intent on destroying the EPA's ability to help protect the earth, its climate, and human health and life?

The Washington Post broke the story that two Washington lobbyists for Duke Energy and the National Alliance of Forest Owners helped craft the original amendment Murkowski planned to offer on the floor last fall.

Sen. Murkowski also ranks at the top of the list of senators taking campaign contributions from oil and gas and utility interests.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, so far in 2010, Sen. Murkowski is the number one recipient of campaign donations from electric utilities in the U.S. Senate, raking in a total of $157,046. Since 2004, she has received $389,313 in contributions from the electric utilities industry, making that industry her second largest contributor. Sen. Murkowski's third-largest contributor is the oil and gas industry, which has donated $365,813 to the senator. Two electric utility companies, Southern Co. and Duke Energy, have donated $26,000 and $24,050 to Sen. Murkowski, respectively.

Two months ago, we learned that three power plants owned by Southern Co. topped the list of U.S. coal-fired sources of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

It is true that American society is "addicted" to the overuse of burning coal and oil. But our addiction is stoked by Drug Lords -- and they buy senators if they can.

Only WE can stop them.

Looking ahead, the day is coming in mid-July when Jews traditionally mourn the ancient destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and look forward in hope to a new tomorrow. Today ALL of us could grieve the onrushing danger of the destruction of our shared sacred temple, the Earth Herself -- and could work toward a new vision of planetary community.


Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center, co-author of The Tent of Abraham, and author of Godwrestling -- Round 2, Down-to-Earth Judaism, and a dozen other books on Jewish thought and practice, as well as books on U.S. public policy. The Shalom Center voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish, multireligious, and American life. Click here to receive the weekly online Shalom Report.

+ Ask President Obama and Congress to support a climate and energy bill that protects people and the planet, not polluters.

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