Letter to Sen. Casey: Continued investment in fossil fuels will create jobs — in disaster-relief fields

    Immensely profitable coal and natural gas industries do not need federal funding (subsidies) to stay afloat, and Senator Bob Casey should stop wasting his energy on fossil fuels.

    According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States subsidized fossil fuels to the tune of $502 billion in 2011. The National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh researches and promotes natural gas, coal and oil. The Senate Committee on Appropriations has removed a mere $87 million from the NETL’s budget, allocating $420.5 million for the Fiscal Year 2014 which is considerably more than Energy Efficient Buildings Hub’s $22 million budget. The Appropriations Committee has also threatened to completely cut this comparatively miniscule budget, and Senator Casey has said little on the subject.

    Although Casey has said the president’s Climate Action Plan will necessitate federal funds to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants, in the president’s plan there is already $8 billion for fossil fuel companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The NETL and its 670 employees would be better suited installing carbon dioxide reduction technology it has already licensed the patent for than continuing research to increase profits for coal and natural gas companies.

    Senator Casey, you have a long history of supporting environmental concerns, curbs on pollution and protecting public health. When Congress tried to repeal the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard you voted in favor of this life-saving regulation. You voted yes on the CLEAN Act to end some subsides to the oil industry and promote renewable energy. You voted to regulate American carbon dioxide emissions regardless of India and China’s environmental policies. You voted again to protect the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate all pollutants related to climate change and for climate change to be a major factor in all federal project planning.

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    In 2007, you voted for the America’s electrical grid to include 25 percent renewable by 2025. So why are writing your fellow senators asking them not to support cutting funding to a federal lab that serves the fossil fuel industry? Coal and natural gas can survive without government support. Renewable energy and efficiency measures are where funds are needed and where taxpayers will see the benefit in a smaller electricity bill and a cleaner bill of health

    If the federal government continues to invest in fossil fuels, America will be creating more jobs in the disaster relief sector. Last year Pennsylvanians spent $4.1 billion tax dollars to clean up after extreme weather exacerbated by unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In light of your historic willingness to support addressing climate change it is disappointing to see Pennsylvania’s sensible senator favoring continued massive taxpayer investment in the fossil fuel industry. The economic energy future of the United States is in promoting energy efficiency and renewable sources.

    Joe Minott is the executive director of the Clean Air Council.

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