FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 12, 2008
Joel Finkelstein or Kate Geller, (202) 822-5200
Trina Zahller, (202) 518-9029 or (202) 744-8578
FOLLOW THE COAL MONEY
TO YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS
New Online Tool Shows Shrinking Partisan Divide, Gives First Comprehensive Look at Political Impact of America’s Dirtiest Fuel
WASHINGTON, DC and BOONE, NC– A new online tool provides the first comprehensive look at the cash mined by Members of Congress from America’s coal industry. With Congress considering a plan to stop the illegal dumping of coal mining waste into America’s rivers and streams, constituents can go to FollowTheCoalMoney.org and explore the millions of dollars drilled from the wallets of corporations that mine, burn and lobby for coal.
Follow the Coal Money was created and will be updated by Appalachian Voices and Oil Change International with data from the Center for Responsive Politics
“When it comes time to cash checks, coal is still king,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices. “If the American people want real action on energy, they need to know whether their Member of Congress is working for them or their coal cash contributors. We have better ways of producing energy than blowing the tops off mountains and destroying the climate and communities.”
“These days, coal money is bipartisan,” said Trina Zahller, Outreach Coordinator of Oil Change International. “After years of favoring Republicans over two to one, the switch in control of Congress led the coal industry to shift its resources. In this Congress, the top recipients are the Subcommittee and Committee chairs of the committees with jurisdiction over our energy and climate future, and six of the top ten coal cash recipients are Democrats. King Coal clearly knows how to win friends, the question is what kind of influence will it lead to?”
One of the top priorities for the coal industry is defending mountaintop removal coal mining, an extremely destructive form of strip mining found throughout Appalachia, with some mines as big as the island of Manhattan. The tops of mountains are literally blown up to expose the coal underneath, with mine waste dumped into valleys and streams below. Coalfield residents say that it tears apart communities, poisons water supplies, pollutes the air and destroys our nation’s natural heritage – while only making the climate crisis worse.
The effort to end mountaintop removal has been gaining steam over the past year. As of today, the leading Congressional plan to end the practice has 146 co-sponsors – dozens more than last year.
Follow the Coal Money is the first comprehensive look at money from all of the major corporate interests pushing to continue and expand the use of coal despite growing concerns about clean water, global warming, and the impact of devastating mountaintop removal coal mines. It includes data from coal mining companies, coal burning companies, and trade associations and political action committees representing those industries. Electric utilities are included if they generated over 70% of their electricity and a minimum of 3.5 million Megawatt hours from coal in 2006, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.
Follow the Coal Money and its companion site, Follow the Oil Money, put powerful tools in the hands of citizens to expose fossil fuel industry donations, and to hold their representatives accountable.
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Appalachian Voices brings people together to solve the environmental problems having the greatest impact on the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Its mission is to empower people to defend our region’s rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns.
Oil Change International is dedicated to identifying and overcoming political barriers to a clean energy transition.. They are a research, education, and advocacy organization that exists to force progress in the energy industry towards an environmentally and socially sustainable energy future. Visit them at HYPERLINK “http://www.priceofoil.org” www.priceofoil.org