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From Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
June 27, 2012
Why Elections Matter
We’re still months away from Election Day, but big polluters are already spending millions of dollars to attack President Obama and push a reckless agenda that puts their profits before the health of our planet and American families.
In the first three months of 2012, Big Oil and Big Coal groups alone spent more than $16 million attacking President Obama and promoting dirty energy. The coal industry’s trade association will add $40 million. The Koch brothers even more than that. Big Oil CEOs are serving as advisers to Mitt Romney and sending tens of millions more to his campaign coffers and Super PACs. These big polluters have made it clear that they will spend and say anything to defeat the president and elect Mitt Romney.
There’s a simple reason for all of this. Big polluters know that President Obama has and will continue to take tough stands to defend the health of American families — and that Mitt Romney will follow the big polluter playbook to the letter.
Just last week, Romney aligned himself with the coal industry and the most extreme congressional Republicans by supporting legislation in the Senate that would have rolled back critical protections that will keep American families safe from mercury pollution. This is nuts. Obama’s safeguards to limit mercury pollution and other toxic air emissions is the most effective standard to limit pollution in a decade. It is a landmark step forward that will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks, while saving American families as much as $90 billion in health costs every year.
Thankfully, enough senators stood up for clean air and healthy families to defeat this destructive effort (and President Obama threatened to veto the reckless legislation should it ever reach his desk). But where we would be if Romney were in the White House? Or if politicians bought and paid for by Big Oil controlled the Senate? By leaping into the arms of Big Oil and Big Coal, Romney has taken a stand in direct opposition to so many of the things we care about — and he’d bring those policies with him to Washington, if elected.
For decades, Sierra Club members and activists across the country have fought to protect our air, our water, and the health of our families from the poisonous mercury pollution pumped out by coal-fired power plants. From city halls to the White House, we demanded that our elected officials stand up to big polluters and act to protect our kids from toxins that can result in birth defects, learning disabilities, deafness, blindness, and even cerebral palsy.
We helped create an historic victory and have great reason to celebrate. But as hard-fought as these victories are, we also know they are precarious. Fossil fuel companies and the executives that run them have made it clear that they will spend anything and say anything to oppose efforts to create a clean energy future. And now we know they have a friend in Mitt Romney.
Fortunately, we have one thing the big polluters will never have — each other. Across the United States, millions of Americans are standing up for clean energy, clean air and water, and the health of our families. Now that we know the choices, it’s time to do just that, and make our voices heard. Yes, big polluters have a lot of money, but let’s show it’s no match for a clean energy movement – an idea whose time has come.
|Paid for by the Sierra Club Political Committee, sierraclub.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.|
Michael Brune is the Sierra Club’s executive director.