How un-sustainable policy is made

I'm thinking about putting up a few more sustainable policy posts in 2011.  Our focus is still on Energy/Water Conservation and Clean Energy strategies, products and services for your home, but occasionally I like to liven it up with a philosophical post.  I think it's important for people to think about the policies that drive their actions when it relates to conservation and clean energy.  These posts are fun for me and I hope they provide some thought provocation for you.  Let me know what you think (and if you like this idea) in the comments!

I began the post below after being inspired by while reading this post about a Sen. Rockefeller, a WV senator, who tried to reach out to a constituent on why he opposes a ban on mountain top coal removal and the Appalachia Restoration Act.  I realize that many fossil fuel companies probably donated to Sen. Rockefeller because it seems odd that someone would not support a bill that is so obviously in the long-term interest of their state (Appalachia Restoration Act).  In case you aren't aware, in the regions where the highest levels of mountain top coal removal are taking place, they aren't exactly killing it in terms of economic output.  Sure, they provide jobs for miners, but once the coal is gone, then what?  What becomes a sustainable job creator for the community?  Isn't it time these politicians begin to attract other industries instead of continuing to support dying ones because the dying ones keep feeding them campaign contributions?


I'm always amazed at how ignorant the majority of our society is in accepting how large a role corporate campaign contributions play in political policy.  The sheep (meaning those citizens who accept as fact whatever they hear on the TV or radio) that watch or listen to the pundits and radio personalities like to believe that there are either bleeding hearts or secret societies staging massive conspiracies that are shaping policy.  When in fact, almost all of the evidence lies in the public domain, it's just the media is usually too big of a coward to call a spade a spade.  The emperor (or emperors) have no clothes on, and the media is afraid to tell him (them).  There is no conspiracy, there is only a failure to see what lies before our eyes.

We believe we live in this democracy where the citizens wishes are translated into representative votes, where in reality, it is the large campaign donors who hold the most sway over the politicians.  It is then the politicians' job to convince the citizens that his/her vote was really the public's wish to begin with!  And this is how the machine is oiled.  There is no conspiracy.  There is only a curtain that nobody seems to want to pull back.

Regarding coal, I realize it is a cheap, abundant source of electricity (albeit dirty), and currently there aren't many economical solutions in place to displace this (although this will change in the near future as costs of clean energy continue to fall).  But there is a better way to mine, burn, clean-up coal (both at the mine, smoke stack, and ash handling) and then there is the cheap wayThe cheap way is the one that it seems the coal mining interests usually lobby for (because it puts more money in their bank account).  It is the cheap way that ends in coal mine disasters, mountain top coal removal, and increased air pollution.  It is the cheap way that we (as citizens) must stand against and call our politicians out on.

I realize that political contributions are made by all interests in hopes that politicians will vote one way or another (and this always has, and always will be the case), but it is up to us, the citizens, to look at the issues that a donor is promoting and ask ourselves:

"Is this an issue that is good (i.e. sustainable) for the United States of America and our nation's grandchildren, or is this issue all about the short-term monetary gain of high rollers who care more about their personal bank account than that of the future of the United States?"

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I believe that you are right that there may be no significant improvement in the pragmatism of public policy until the influence of special interests is neutralized. Almost all of my political activities and donations are directed at campaign finance reform. We got close to real change in the last Congress. It could get better if the Tea Party movement takes on this theme.

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