As we've seen this week, coal is a horrible energy source. It dramatically decreases quality of life while increasing heart attacks, asthma, lung disease, autism, global warming, acid rain, and smog. So what can we do about it?
It seems to me that there are several different ways to get involved in addressing the problems posed by coal-fired power plants (I imagine you'll have additional ideas and I'd welcome them in the comments). I've organized them into 3 different categories:
ORGANIZATIONS DOING GOOD WORK:
There are several national organizations fighting against coal and working for sane alternatives such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Working with existing organizations can help focus our efforts and amplify our voices. Each one has a wealth of creative ways to get involved (and the websites have gotten increasingly sophisticated -- in many cases helping you to quickly and easily target your message to your Representative or Senator). Here are some of my favorites:
National Resources Defense Council
Jump right in and take action (here) -- awesome site by the way.
Sign up for the NRDC Action Network (here).
Learn more about Sierra Club initiatives (here).
Sign up with the Sierra Club (here).
Rainforest Action Network
For background info on Rainforest Action Network and their current campaigns click (here).
Learn about how to get involved with their campaigns against coal-fired power plants (here).
On February 27th, 2008 the House of Representatives passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351, which will extend and expand tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy and fuel, as well as for plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances.
This is a really important bill because current tax credits for solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources are set to expire this year. If these tax credits are allowed to expire, investment and research into alternative energy will plummet. Kudos to Nancy Pelosi for getting H.R. 5351 through the House of Representatives (96% of Democratic Representatives supported the bill, 92% of Republicans opposed it). Now the bill is in the Senate where it faces a much more uncertain future. The Senate is expected to begin debating the bill in early April. There is a great automated e-form (here) that you can use to contact your Senator and urge him/her to support passage of H.R. 5351.
Also, Henry Waxman and Edward Markey have introduced a bill that would require any new coal-fired power plant to capture and permanently sequester carbon dioxide. It would be a huge step forward. You can use the zip code search box in the upper left corner of (this page) to find your representative and urge him/her to support this bill (it does not have an H.R. # yet -- but it's called the "Moratorium on Uncontrolled Power Plants Acts of 2008").
Finally, if you're tired of Republican presidents vetoing environmental legislation, you can always send some love to the soon-to-be Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama (here). (Love ya Hil, but the math ain't on your side.)
ADDRESSING MISINFORMATION IN THE MEDIA
It seems to me that CNN has some explaining to do. They took money from Big Coal and then, when hosting Presidential Debates, failed to ask any questions about global warming or energy policy (other than the "snowman question" in the CNN YouTube debate which hardly qualifies). CNN uses airwaves owned by the public and has a obligation to use these airwaves responsibly. I've written to CNN to ask them to explain how much money they accepted from Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (the coal lobby) and why they failed to ask any questions about global warming or energy policy. But I would urge you to contact them as well. Please be kind and respectful (remember, honey attracts more flies than vinegar, or something like that) but I think it's fair to ask hard questions and demand accountability. Below are links to the forms to send questions to the various anchors at CNN:
Anderson Cooper (he's their star and seems like a decent guy. I'd be curious to know how he feels about the fact that CNN accepted sponsorship money from these toxic polluters and then seemed to pull its punches during the debates.)
Wolf Blitzer (Wolfie moderated the South Carolina Democratic Debate on January 21, 2008).
Comment form for The Situation Room (CNN's afternoon political show).
If you have ideas for other media outlets we should be contacting, I'd welcome them as well.