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Yesterday I wrote about Claire McCaskill’s sad decision to join a cabal of Democratic senators out to derail the EPA’s authority to regulate green-house gases from industrial sources. Today we learn that their efforts have succeeded in delaying new EPA rules – which were devised in the first place to compensate for the unwillingness of the Senate to respond to our developing climate crisis.

The reason McCaskill and her fellow letter writers give for their delaying tactics is that they represent the interest of coal-dependent states. Of course, one goal of the EPA regulations as well as the the cap-and-trade provsions in proposed House legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), is to wean the U.S. from its coal addiction – currently 50% of U.S. electricity is coal generated.

Coal is definitely not a benign source of energy.  Its extraction destroys our natural environment, the fine particles produced by burning coal are harmful to human health, and, of course, coal constitutes one of the main factors exacerbating the climate crisis we face since coal-burning plants are the largest producers of CO2 emissions in the U.S.

So why is McCaskill, a politician who loves to claim that she shares the progressive values of the Democratic party – in fundraising letters at least – trying to prolong Missouri’s dependency on coal? Instead of whining about the short-term costs of moving us from coal dependency, shouldn’t she be exercising the leadership we expect from her?

I would suggest that McCaskill could learn from the example of Russ Carnahan, who, in his just released economic action plan, A Regional Approach to Job Growth, emphasizes the importance of legislation like ACES in guaranteeing Missouri’s continued, long-term prosperity:

Nations around the world are emerging as leaders in clean-energy production creating jobs in their respective countries because of the growing demand of these technologies. Clean energy technology can and must be made in America. The Clean Energy and Security Act – which was passed by the House of Representatives in June, 2009 – would create millions of jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, making America the global innovation leader; it would increase our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil; and it would preserve our planet by reducing the pollution that causes global warming.

Too bad McCaskill, who has signaled her opposition to ACES, doesn’t have this kind of vision or courage, but, instead, seems to be choosing to work against our long-term good to further the goals of the powerful coal-lobby and placate brainwashed rural voters.