Coal Harms the Planet —and Owns the Senate

Blame industry as well as ideology if US shirks Copenhagen
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2009 8:32 AM CDT
Farmer Dave Eckhardt inspecting an onion crop on his farm near La Salle, Colo.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
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(Newser) – As the world turns to Copenhagen this December, the US, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, may once again fail to sign up to save the world from serious climate change. Ideology plays a part, Jeffrey Sachs notes, as many Republican senators are "intent on derailing any Obama initiative." But the bigger problem is economic: No fewer than 25 states produce coal, and the odds of winning even Democratic senators' votes from those states are daunting.

President Obama is negotiating with coal-state senators, and he has the power to order the EPA to impose limits on coal plants and automakers. But the near-impossibility of scoring 67 votes in the Senate raises the real prospect of the US "irresponsibly" shirking environmental progress when even China and India are coming around. "Even coal-state senators should be ashamed," Sachs writes.
(Read more Jeffrey Sachs stories.)