Alert 670: Senator Tom Carper makes Delaware a “coal state.”

“I have spent the past six months working with a group of coal state Democrats in the Senate, led by West Virginia native Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), drafting provisions to assist the coal industry …. ”
–  Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia

It should be no secret that Delaware’s congressional delegation–Castle, Carper and Kaufman/Biden–generally doesn’t represent the interests of Delawareans.  Why should they?  Much of their campaign money doesn’t come from Delaware, and they don’t have to worry about reelection.  But, I doubt many realize how hard and how often “our” representatives in Washington work directly against the interests of Delawareans.  The worst is Senator Tom Carper.


Senator Tom Carper and coal

From a December 3, 2009 statement from Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, born in 1917, a US Senator since 1959, and the patron saint of the coal industry (Byrd isn’t entirely bad.  He loves coal, but he also loves the US Constitution and spoke out eloquently against some of Bush II’s worst crimes):

“I have spent the past six months working with a group of coal state Democrats in the Senate, led by West Virginia native Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), drafting provisions to assist the coal industry ….  These include increasing funding for clean coal projects and easing emission standards and timelines, setting aside billions of dollars for coal plants that install new technology and continue using coal.”

Did you know Delaware was a “coal state?”  There aren’t any coal mines here, but we have our share of belching smokestacks and leaking coal ash dumps.  We have NRG (Indian River Power Plant, and Dover “Energy Center”) and Conectiv (Edge Moor Power Plant) burning hundreds of thousands of tons per year of coal.  Hundreds of deaths and illnesses are caused by coal each year.  So yes, I suppose we are a “coal state.”

“Coals Assault on Human Health,”

In November, 2009, Physicians for Social Responsibility released Coal’s Assault on Human Health.”  From the Executive Summary:

“Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the u.s.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. this conclusion emerges from our reassessment of the widely recognized health threats from coal. each step of the coal lifecycle–mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of post-combustion wastes–impacts human health. Coal combustion in particular contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the u.s. population, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, compounding the major public health challenges of our time. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks, and compromises intellectual capacity. oxidative stress and inflammation are indicated as possible mechanisms in the exacerbation and development of many of the diseases under review. In addition, the report addresses another, less widely recognized health threat from coal: the contribution of coal combustion to global warming, and the current and predicted health effects of global warming.”

Nuke too–Carper’s not satisfied to promote coal.

He’s also one of chief senatorial lackeys of the nuclear industry.  Never mind that Delaware is already in the radiation “ingestion zones” (50 mile radius) of at least seven nuclear reactors.  Never mind that three reactors are right across the Delaware River from Augustine Beach, Delaware.  Never mind that PSEG Nuclear is conniving to build a fourth reactor on that site.  Never mind that even nuclear-fanatic Delaware Electric Cooperative head Bill Andrew has given up on nuke power because “it costs $8000 per kilowatt.”   Never mind that radioactive waste is piling up with no solution in sight….

Who needs health care, or transit, or rooftop solar, when the nuke industry has its hand out for Federal revenues?  Who cares how much nuke power costs if Carper and his nuke-industry friends can figure out how to bill the taxpayers for it?  Carper reportedly got the second highest level of campaign contributions of any senator in 2009 from the Nuclear Energy Institute.  See also Carper Suggests Bolstering NRC as Part of Climate Package.

Are you disgusted yet?

Carper is also a key opponent of a “public option” in health care.  He doesn’t owe anything to Delawareans with health problems, who are uninformed enough to reelect him no matter how he sells them out, but he owes the insurance industry big time.  See, for example: “ Carper Denies Influence of $223,000 From Insurance Companies.

Are you disgusted yet?

Carper supported nearly every war measure, every repressive, unconstitutional move, nearly every horrible appointment, of the Bush II administration.  See, for example:  Yet again, Sen. Tom Carper dishonors Delaware.

How does he get away with it?

Tom Carper is a skillful and hardworking professional politician.  Watch him moving around a meeting room, methodically shaking hands with each person, looking them in the eye.  Watch him bullshitting older folks at a senior center, after, figuratively at least, spending the morning conniving with drug companies to raise the price of their meds.  He knows his trade.

He understands Delaware voters, obviously, far better than they understand him.  He should.  He went, as far as I know, directly from the military to politics without ever holding a significant private sector job.  He’s been Delaware State Treasurer (where Jack Markell also started out).  He’s been a Congressman.  He served two terms as Governor.  Now he’s in the Senate.  He’s never lost an election.

As Governor he worked pretty much a straight Chamber of Commerce agenda, weakening environmental protections and shifting government spending from ill and needy citizens to corporations.  As Senator, he does the same.  It’s in his blood.  He’s what used to be called, in some circles, an “enemy of the people.”

Suggested News Year’s Resolution:  Never, never, never, never vote for Tom Carper every again.

Meanwhile, tell him to stop representing the West Virginia coal industry:

“Their” Senator Tom Carper: (DC office) 202.224.2441, (Wilmington office) 302.573-6291, Laura_Haines@carper.senate.gov

Meanwhile:  Carper isn’t the only coaler in Delaware.  The US Environmental Protection Agency is, after years of neglect, considering tightening the regulations for handling highly-dangerous coal ash.   Gov. Jack Markell’s DNREC is lobbying against that, claiming that present handling of coal ash in Delaware is just fine.  More upcoming on this.

Alan Muller


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