Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democrats Against Efforts to Manage Climate Change

While we often think of Republicans as being the minions of the fossil fuel industry, there are also a number of Democrats who support dirty energy like coal. Although Republicans comprise the largest share of people who do not support a science based approach to climate change, some Democrats are also guilty of ignoring the facts about global warming and resisting climate and energy legislation.

With the exception of Democrats from the East and West coasts, there are large pockets of Democratic resistance to serious action on climate change. As the second-biggest producer of this fossil fuel, West Virginia Democrats are amongst the worst climate change deniers in the country. The state's Govenor Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin are Democrats who championed the cause of coal industry.

In 2010, there were 44 Democrats who voted against climate change legislation and 211 who supported it. In total 7 percent of Democrats in Obama-majority districts opposed the White House on the vote.

Simply put support for climate and energy legislation is related to the degree to which a state relies on coal to generate electricity. Thirty of the 121 Democrats from states that generate at least 40 percent of their power from coal voted against the 2010 bill; just 14 of the 134 Democrats from states that are less reliant on coal joined them in opposition. That means about one-in-four of the coal state Democrats voted no, compared to only a little over one-in-10 of everyone else.

Of the 29 "McCain Democrats" who opposed the bill, 21 represent states that are heavily dependent on coal. Midwestern states rely on coal for electricity. Which is why 12 of the Democrats from the Midwest and the Plains states did not support the bill

Most of the Democrats who did not support the bill came from Southern states. Eighteen of the 44 Democratic "no" votes came from the 11 states of the Old Confederacy; 40 Southern Democrats supported the bill. That means nearly a third of Southern Democrats opposed the bill.

Opposition to energy and climate legislation came from the sole Democratic representatives in North Dakota, South Dakota and Louisiana; both Democratic representatives from West Virginia; and majorities of the Democratic delegations from Arkansas and Indiana.

Even an attempt to pass legislation in the US Senate to end a cap on oil spill damages was put on hold due to lack of support from at least two Democrat senators from the oil-rich states of Louisiana and Alaska. It is shocking to note that even the worst oil spill in US history could not get Democrats to protect people and the marine environment from the oil industry.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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