Follow the (coal) money

That's the Ninth District's very own Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA), featured in a the cover illustration for the website Follow the Coal Money, a project of Oil Change International, a non-profit conducting research on money in politics and other topics in order to promote renewable energy.

You won't find Boucher's name on the Clean Water Protection Act, which now has 145 co-sponsors, one of whom is Bobby Scott, whose office I visited to press for the bill in 2007. You can read my take on the measure from that time at LLRX.com.

Currently, there's a letter writing campaign up at the site. Here's the draft:

I am deeply concerned about the extent of the coal industry's influence on Washington.

Coal is not the solution to our mounting energy and climate crisis. We need to be encouraging the development and deployment of truly clean, diverse, and sustainable energy sources. Instead, our increasing reliance on coal is exacerbating many of the issues that I care most deeply about -- issues like global warming, and the health of our communities and our environment.

Yet politicians of both parties continue to use our tax money to subsidize the development of the coal industry to the tune of billions of dollars every year -- at a time when our nation should be getting serious about reducing our carbon emissions.

Perhaps it's partly because coal companies donated over 8 million dollars ($8,711,107) in the 2006 elections -- and have already spent $6,330,168 in lobbying expenditures this year.

I urge you to immediately stop taking money from the coal industry, and to start the transition to clean, secure sources of energy now. Our nation's prosperity and environmental security depends upon you declaring your independence from the dirty influence of coal.