EPA

Sue the Government — State Supreme Court rules against Beshear administration and their coal company cohorts

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April 27, 2012
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Back in 2010, a handful of community groups sought to join a legal dispute between the state government’s Energy and Enviornment Cabinet and a company, Frasure Creek Mining. A Judge allowed the action, which then complicated the Beshear administration’s Cabinet plan to settle with the mining company… because, you know, the citizens’ groups didn’t want to settle, they wanted justice. Crazy, right?

Beshear’s cabinet and the mining company then filed to remove the citizen’s from the lawsuit so they could do their behind-closed-doors Frankfort wheeling and dealing like normal.

Well the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that in fact the lower court judge was absolutely correct in allowing the groups to join the suit and while your duly elected Governor might see this as a loss, people who appreciate democracy will see it as a victory:

The high court unanimously found that Judge Phillip Shepherd did not err in allowing Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and three citizens to take part in a suit brought by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet against Frasure Creek Mining.

The groups sought to intervene to object to a settlement between the state and Frasure Creek, which operates coal mines in Pike County, over the discharge of pollutants into the Kentucky, Big Sandy and Licking rivers and their tributaries.

You can also read the Supreme Court’s full ruling if you like. Spoiler alert… this is how it ends:

Because the trial court has jurisdiction to permit the Citizen Plaintiffs a limited intervention, and because the propriety of that intervention under Kentucky law can be challenged and assessed in the ordinary course of trial and appeal, the Court of Appeals correctly denied the Cabinet’s and Frasure Creek’s petitions for extraordinary relief. Accordingly, we hereby affirm, the Court of Appeals’ Order in these consolidated cases.

All sitting. All concur.

Boo-hoo for coal bought politicians, woo-hoo for the rest of us.

And to the Supreme Court, Steve says…

Republicans Push Energy War whilest also pushing compromised Presidential Candidate

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March 6, 2012
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The Republican Party (with the help of some Blue Dogs) are trying to turn coal into an election-season issue, according to the Rush Limbaugh of print media, The Washington Times. Speaker Boner wrote a tear-blotched letter to the President citing exaggerated statistics from the Coal Industry as a evidence that Obama is destroying America.

“These rules, the most expensive in EPA history, stand to cost 180,000 American jobs per year and would force the premature retirement of 12 percent of America’s coal-fired energy generation,” he said.

Mr. Boehner’s comments were based on a report sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and released in September.

In late February, a bipartisan group of 219 members of Congress led by Reps. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican, and John Barrow, Georgia Democrat, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget calling for a stop to the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule-making.

“Affordable, reliable electricity is critical to keeping and growing jobs in the United States, and such a standard will likely drive up energy prices and threaten domestic jobs,” they wrote.

As you see there, Ed Whitfield is again leading the charge. Bought and paid for by the energy industry, Whitfield continues to be one of the most vocal leaders in Washington pushing the industry friendly agenda at cost to actual living breathing people and in benefit to non-breathing corporation-people.

Hal Rogers isn’t one to get left behind, so he too is playing this game, though his latest salvo was an incorrect observation about snails and the XL Pipeline which provides no jobs for Kentucky and is justified on drastically overblown industry statistics (you don’t say!) on “job creation” while putting the heartland’s water system at great risk.

“Talk about snail’s pace,” Rogers said at a hearing on the State Department’s 2013 budget, musing that a snail could have crawled the route of the proposed pipeline, from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast, within the 40-month review period.

“That’s one speedy snail, Mr. Chairman,” responded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s right. It would take the average garden snail about 67 months to crawl in a straight line from the Canadian border to Houston.

For all you Republicans (or your Republican friends) who think Rogers, Whitfield and Boehner are right-on and that corporations conducting studies on behalf of themselves would never lie to them, the GOP Presidential race continues to prove that Mitt Romney is a compromised candidate not to be trusted. As The Politico reports, green-friendly billionaire Republican forces have given millions to Romney’s campaign and Super PACs, betting that could Romney win the Primary and then the Election his recent gravitation to a hard-right, pro-coal, anti-environment stance (which is directly at odds with his actual record and yet further evidence no conservative should trust him let alone vote for him), then Mitt Romney would flip-flop his position and sell out the very energy industry he’s currently so passionately defending:

Other green-minded financial backers may not be giving as much as Robertson, but they still share the view that climate-change science and a solid environmental agenda wouldn’t be a lost cause if Romney won the White House.

“My feeling is that on these issues that people learn,” said former Gov. Thomas Kean (R-N.J.), who maxed out last fall to Romney with a $2,500 check. “And my hope is, as time goes on, he will understand that not everybody agrees on how you deal with these issues, but I hope he will agree with 99 percent of the scientists who believe this is an issue that we have to deal with.”

….Rob Sisson, president of the Republicans for Environmental Protection, said he’s scraping together personal funds to write a check to the Romney campaign after getting a chance to meet him for the first time last month during a town hall campaign stop in Kalamazoo, Mich.“I think his record as governor was pretty good as far as Republicans go,” said Sisson, who also gave $1,000 last June to Jon Huntsman’s campaign. “I really get the sense from him and the folks around him with whom I’ve spoken that as president he’d really look at each situation, gather the data and really make a decision that’s best for the country.”

“If that goes against the grain of how he’s campaigning now, so be it.”

Read the rest, it’s good fun.

McConnell, Whitfield lead GOP fight for XL Pipeline

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December 6, 2011
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Earlier this month, the White House announced it would delay any decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would mine the tar sands of Canada and run through America’s heartland, passing over a major source of country’s water systems.

People who like to water plants and livestock with non-polluted water have objected to this plan and over the summer engaged in a series of headline-grabbing protests in Washington, putting an equal pressure on the President as was coming from the Koch Brother/far-Right forces aligned in support of the pipeline.

And while the pipeline doesn’t appear to come to Kentucky or create jobs here, Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation is still, strangely, going all in to fight for the big money interests. Weird, right?

Our good Senator Mitch McConnell:

Six senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have crafted a plan that requires a State Department permit for the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline within 60 days unless the president publicly determines that it is not in the national interest, according to a summary.

And the decent Congressman, Mr. Ed Whitfield:

A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives called Friday on the US administration to speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the United States.

….The House measure would call on US authorities to act within 30 days to issue a permit for the pipeline, after which the project would be considered approved by default.

Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said at a hearing Friday the lawmakers were acting as “a direct response to the administration failure to issue a permit for the pipeline.”

“The president had a golden opportunity to take bold action and create jobs for America and he declined to do so,” Whitfield said.

 

Learn more about the Keystone XL Pipeline here.

 

 

Frankfort’s Toxicity?

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December 6, 2011
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Early last week, the Beshear Administration fired — without cause or explanation — one of the state’s leading mining regulators.

Prior to serving as the Natural Resources Commissioner, Carl Campbell spent 25 years at the Department of Surface Mining.

Here’s a disingenuous quote from King Coal:

The move caught some leaders in the mining industry off guard. Kentucky Mining Association President Bill Bissett said he was unaware of any issues the industry had with Campbell.

“Commissioner Campbell’s relationship with Kentucky’s coal industry was a professional one,” Bissett said. “There were issues where the commissioner agreed with the industry’s position and issues where he disagreed. What we appreciated was his frank demeanor in communicating his position as well as maintaining that ongoing line of communication.”

And here’s a genuine quote from a more genuine source:

Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, praised Campbell’s service as an environmental regulator and called the firing “very disturbing.”

“Commissioner Campbell has done an excellent job during this most recent stint as commissioner under very difficult circumstances,” FitzGerald said. “One would have hoped that in a second term, the Beshear administration would want to create some legacy more meaningful than just having lasted eight years.

He added: “We’ve seen significant damage done to the environmental programs and significant politicization of the management of these environmental programs in this administration.”

By the end of the week, that voice of reason had seen enough. Tom FitzGerald, head of the Kentucky Resources Council, sent Governor Beshear a letter resigning from his position on two state boards, the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

Mr. FitzGerald’s letter to Governor Steve Beshear, in full:

Dear Governor Beshear:

I am writing to inform you of my decision, effectively immediately, to step down from my appointments to the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship. While it has been a privilege to have served as a Board member for the Council and the Center, and while I am most appreciative of the opportunity that you gave me to serve in both of those capacities, I cannot in good conscience continue to serve as your appointee to either Board in light of the current Administration’s environmental and energy policies.

The serial budgetary reductions in general funds for environmental protection programs, which over the course of the last four years have amounted to some 26%, have placed a tremendous strain on the administration and enforcement of core air, water and waste programs, and continue to compromise the ability to properly implement programs for which Kentucky sought delegation and to which Kentucky committed it would provide sufficient funding. That programs intended to protect the building blocks of a healthy commonwealth and economy – the air, land, and water resources – are not considered by your Administration to be priorities with respect to allocating budget decisions, is of grave concern. That only one of those programs (Title V air permits) collects from regulated sources the fees necessary to offset the cost of regulation, leaving the taxpayers to subsidize other pollution control programs through general funds, is indefensible.

The recent firing of the Department for Natural Resources Commissioner brought into sharp relief my growing concern that the Administration has lost its bearing regarding regulation of the coal industry. The promise made by Congress to the residents of the coalfields in 1977 that they would be fully protected from the adverse effects of coal mining, that the land would be contemporaneously reclaimed and the footprint of mining minimized, has yet to be kept, and the removal of the Commissioner at a time when his office was attempting to increase reclamation bonds to appropriate levels (despite resistance within the industry), to implement the cumulative hydrologic impact assessment process properly for the first time in 29 years, and to stem the disturbing trend of towards greater numbers of violations within the coal industry (the rate of industry compliance in FY 2010 was the lowest since 1990), is disturbing.

It has been an honor to be a member of the Board of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, which plays a critical role in elevating environmental literacy in the Commonwealth, yet has suffered budget reductions that if left unremedied will weaken its ability to do so. The Board and staff of the Council are remarkable and are dedicated to fulfilling the Council’s mission. I will continue to support the mission of the Council, and would encourage your Administration to restore the funding that has been diverted from the Council.

The Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship has, unfortunately, done little since its establishment other than adopting operating procedures, and the goals set out by the General Assembly for that Center remain almost entirely unmet. That the current Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary indicated at the last Board meeting he would not participate in a proposed strategic planning process through which the Board might focus on how to achieve the mission envisioned for it by the legislature, suggests to me that absent a greater degree of independence in funding and Board management, the Center will play a marginal role in helping to move Kentucky towards a sustainable energy future.

In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to have served on the Boards of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

Cordially,

Tom FitzGerald
Director

This morning’s Herald-Leader Editorial follows this turn of events:

Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters has given no reason for firing Campbell, who has said he does not know the reason.

Peters’ choice to replace Campbell will be revealing.

Also revealing will be what happens to the initiatives cited by FitzGerald.

There’s little recourse when a coal company fails to properly reclaim a mining site and has posted an insufficient bond.

But to all these voices, Steve Beshear says…

Brett Guthrie’s answer actually IS dirty air.

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October 24, 2011
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Brett Guthrie reveals the President’s secret plan:

“He goes to North Carolina yesterday and says the Republicans answer is dirty air, that’s not true and it’s unworthy of the presidency.”

Representative Guthrie says he doesn’t want dirty air, but regulating the EPA is very expensive and would affect many Kentuckians.

“They’re trying to put coal-power plants out of business, that’s ninety-five percent of Kentuckians energy, that’s why we have cheap energy.”

There are a couple things wrong with Mr. Guthrie’s reasoning:

1. “They” are not trying to put coal-power plants out of business. This industry claim, parroted by Republicans (and our Governor and Congressman), is couldn’t be more misleading. An energy industry consultancy group released a report on this very subject earlier this month. They studied the Obama administration’s EPA regulations and the purported ‘disastrous’ effects on the industry. They found:

Contrary to some projections that indicate environmental regulations will severely impact U.S. coal production, ICF projects that U.S. coal production and prices will remain stable. In particular, demand for low sulfur Powder River Basin coal and low-cost, high-sulfur Illinois Basin coal is expected to be strong.

Clearly, then, if Mr. Guthrie and company know that the EPA regulations won’t destroy the coal industry, then what other motivation do they have in trying to destroy the EPA? Either it’s about maximizing profits for their cronies, or its about dirtying our air.

It’s Brett Guthrie who’s unworthy of the job of protecting people.

2. The only ones putting the coal industry out of business are the coal industry themselves. Or, depending on how you look at it, G-d.

Witness:

Coal here is getting harder and costlier to dig — and the region, which includes southern West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, is headed for a huge collapse in coal production.

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that in a little more than three years, the amount of coal mined here will be just half of what it was in 2008. That’s a significant loss of a signature Appalachian industry, and the jobs that come with it.

“The seams of coal that are left in this area are harder and harder to mine, and they’re thinner and thinner and thinner,” said Leonard Fleming, a retired Kentucky miner and union leader in Letcher County who worked in the industry for 32 years.

The fact that Kentuckians get over nine tenths of their electricity from coal is fine and all, but it’s not going to do us much good in a few years. You can’t mine what’s not there… which is one reason the mining companies have their minions, like Brett Guthrie, fight to destroy the EPA. If they would just get off our backs, we could flatten the Appalachians and siphon out what little remaining coal we can find.

And if that dirties the air in the process… let alone all the other health ramifications… then Brett Guthrie is for it.

3. There are actually a lot more than a couple, but Brett seems a little slow so we’ll leave it here for now and keep it simple for him.

Kentucky GOP, Dems working in tandem to destroy EPA

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October 11, 2011
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There was a good story out over the weekend that serves as a friendly reminder to any Kentucky Dems still stubbornly denying  their own party is controlled by global-warming deniers and environmental enemies. (No, really, some of them are still out there, insisting that Ben and Steve deserve our support and usually they get very defensive when you mention this topic. It’s sad.)

Article comes from Scott Wartman up at the Cincinatti.com/NKY.com team:

The Environmental Protection Agency has shouldered much of the blame from Kentucky politicians for the struggling economy during the 2011 campaigns.

Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the EPA for what they see as job-inhibiting regulations.

The refusal of 19 mine permits in eastern Kentucky prompted Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to plead with President Obama – both in person and through a letter -to relax EPA policies to relax EPA policies to allow the mines to open.

Let’s pause here for a moment.

For as great as this article is, it’s taken Governor Beshear’s word for the fact that he “pleaded” (like, down on his knees with tears streaking his face and his hands clutched together in subservience?) with President Obama “in person.”

As we have already pointed out here, only the most gullible person could actually believe Governor Beshear’s wildly unlikely story about giving Barry O the what-for — in just about 90 seconds, Beshear claims (lies, really) he insulted the President’s intelligence, told the President a bunch of stuff about infrastructure the President already knows, accused him of being an ineffective leader (pot, kettle, if ever there was…) and then started yelling at the President about the EPA. [Read all about it.]

If that story actually happened the way Beshear claims it did, he wouldn’t deserve your vote because everything expressed is offensive to your personal beliefs but instead because to cover all that in 90 seconds with the President of the United States, Steve would have to be out of his gourd crazy, a screeching, fast-talking wild-eyed beast not fit for office.

But. Enough about all that. Let’s get back to the article about the Dems colluding with the GOP to poison you by rolling back EPA regulations and environmental protections because the EPA and the Muslim President are killing all our jobs:

But reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations show government regulations account for a small portion of job losses.

Ohhhh. Oh. Wait. So both the Republican Party and the Kentucky Democratic Party are lying or stupid. That’s reassuring.

Let’s hear from each of you!

The furor over the EPA and other federal regulations will only get louder, said U.S. Rep Geoff Davis, R-Hebron.

“I think the battle of regulations is a turning point over what America will become,” Davis said. “American people have lost transparency in the reach of the regulatory state.”

Davis, of course, is the draintrust behind the REINS Act, the GOP’s #1 “Jobs” Bill that does nothing to create jobs but does a lot to poison our air, poison our water and increase corporate profits.

Both candidates for attorney general, Republican Todd P’Pool and Democratic incumbent Jack Conway, have said they believe the EPA has overstepped its bounds in Kentucky…..

“The EPA says your runoff has to be the equivalent of distilled bottled water,” P’Pool said. “That’s like suggesting the speed limit should be 5 miles per hour.”

Conway said he’s already challenged the EPA on several issues, including filing suit in 2009 against the EPA’s attempt to regulate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

The article grazes over Rand Paul next, but everyone knows where Rand stands on this issue, so let’s skip ahead…

[Bruce Scott, commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection] and Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett testified this week before state legislators on the detrimental impact the delay of these permits has on Kentucky.

….The EPA found few allies among the state legislators at the hearing this week. “It is clear what their agenda is,” said Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence. “Their agenda is to stop coal mining.”

That’s good. Governor Beshear’s appointed Environmental “Protection” czar is hanging with King Coal. Way to go, KDP! Let’s all pat ourselves on the backs.

Hmm. Backs. Oh, right. It’s that time again:

You may want to read the rest of the article, especially if you’re a damned fool who’s been elected to public office and keeps on insisting that getting rid of the protections that keep people safe and alive will some how create jobs. It’s farcical, but that’s what our Democratic and Republican leaders are claiming.

Judge says EPA should let mountains blow up and inbred lawyers face trouble

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October 7, 2011
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via WEKU — A King Coal twofer this morning with a judge ruling against the EPA’s efforts to better monitor mountaintop removal permits and the law firm that blamed health problems in Appalachia on inbreeding instead of on the actual cause (you know, mountaintop removal) faces an ethics complaint.

So first up, the Judge:

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act when it issued tougher environmental guidelines related to fill material dumped into streams after the tops of mountains are blasted off to extract underlying coal seams. The National Mining Association sued the EPA last year and argued that the agency couldn’t issue the new guidance without formal rulemaking.

….In a statement, the EPA said it wanted to reassure families in Appalachia that the judge’s ruling “was a procedural decision that does not affect our Clean Water Act authority to protect them from public health and environmental impacts caused by poor coal mining practices.”

And now, the homozygostic dirtbag lawyers:

Regular readers of Coal Tattoo will certainly recall the incident in July when coal industry lawyers from the firm Crowell & Moring tried to blame the increased rate of birth defects among residents near Appalachian surface mining sites on inbreeding.

Remember what they said (without even being able to spell the word correctly)?

The study failed to account for consanquinity [sic], one of the most prominent sources of birth defects.

Crowell and Moring removed the material from its firm website and a spokeswoman issued an apology … But it appears the lawyers involved haven’t heard the last of this.

Earlier this week, a former West Virginia lawyer who now teaches at the Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina filed a formal ethics complaint against attorneys Clifford J. Zatz, William L. Anderson, Kirsten L. Nathanson, and Monica M. Welt over the matter.

Read on for the lambasting language of Professor Jason Huber’s complaint.

Obama threatens Veto of Davis/Boehner/GOP anti-environment bills

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October 4, 2011
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Yesterday we mentioned John Boehner’s “GONE SOFT” email blast fluffing Geofferson Davis and one of his anti-public health bills. Well, Barry Hussein has pledged to veto the bill:

The White House is threatening to veto two House bills that would delay key Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution regulations.

“These bills would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from moving ahead with long-overdue requirements to reduce air pollution from industrial boilers, solid waste incinerators, and cement plants,” the White House said in a formal “statement of administration policy.”

“The bills also would weaken EPA’s ability to ensure that its standards protect American families from a range of harmful pollutants including mercury and other toxic metals, as well as smog and soot.”

John Boehner Fluffing Geoff Davis

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October 3, 2011
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Speaker of the House Boner sent out an email blast over the weekend… with the subject line “GONE SOFT?

Mr. BoneBoneBoneBoehner wrote:

Gone “Soft?” Or Threatened By Tax Hikes, Excessive Regulations, & Excessive Spending?

President Obama says America has gone “a little soft” and lost its “competitive edge.” But the reality is – as Speaker Boehner recently said – job creators are paralyzed by “the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating.”

And then what happened?

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Geoff Davis (R-KY) asked the White House to support H.R. 2681, which requires Washington to develop “more balanced and effective” rules that “protect public health and the environment without imposing unnecessary economic harm on American businesses and workers.”

HR 2681, if you’re curious, is a bill aimed at debilitating environmental regulations and it is part of this week’s installment of the House GOP’s assault on public safety under the veil of “job creation.”

So let’s stay hard, America.

Let’s blow some cement out of our giant national mixer.

Ed Whitfield responds to evangelicals mad at him for poisoning the unborn

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September 27, 2011
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Pro-life Christians Challenge Congressional Republicans on Mercury Regulation

Ouch. That’s the headline on TIME mag’s story about the Evangelical Environmental Network and their ad-campaign targeting Ed Whitfield and other deregulation Republicans. (We mentioned this a couple weeks ago, with audio of the Whitfield ad.)

Ed Whitfield added into the TRAIN Act a hold on EPA regulations of mercury emissions. The Christian Evangelicals didn’t like this because mercury’s not good for unborn entities (nevermind living breathing ones).

“I expect members of Congress who claim that they are pro life to use their power to protect the life, especially the unborn,” says a local pastor and mother in one of the ads. “I can’t understand why Congressman Ed Whitfield is fighting to stop the EPA from enforcing its plan specifically meant to protect the unborn by cleaning up dangerous mercury pollution.” The ads have run on 120 Christian and country radio station in Whitfield, Barton and Upton’s districts for the week prior to the Train Act vote. More than 100 evangelical pastors and leaders have also signed the “Evangelical Call to Stop The Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn,” including representatives from over 10 Christian colleges, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and Christianity Today’s Editor-in-Chief David Neff. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops submitted similar concerns.

Well that’s a lot of evangelicals!

What says you, Ed Whitfield or office thereof?

“This is an activist environmental group parading under the banner of evangelical Christianity and the right to life,” Whitfield’s chief of staff John Sparkman told TIME. “I don’t think it will have resonance in our district.”

Yeah. Neither will the unborn when they die of mercury poisoning, Sparkman.

For the record, the TRAIN Act passed, along with its mercury poisoning, thanks to Whitfield, Ben Chandler and our other non-Awesome Congresspeople.

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