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I received another fundraising email today from freshman Democratic Congressman Bill Enyart. As it turns out, he doesn't want my money after all. He made that very clear in his public statement promising to fight Obama's climate change agenda.


“As co-chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus, I will work tirelessly against any proposed new federal mandates that will increase our energy costs, and decimate our Southern Illinois coal industry in the process."
Do you know what actually caused a large electric rate increase in his district? The new Prairie State coal plant. New coal costs more than wind power. What's hurting the economy in his district lately? Record drought, extreme flooding, and not being able to move barge traffic along the Mississippi.

I understand the politics of Enyart's district in southern Illinois coal country. I also know that, despite the coal industry's dominance over local press and politicians, there are many voters who understand why relying on a coal economy keeps southern Illinois poor, just like West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. No region is going to prosper by waiting for the mines to re-open. Southern Illinois deserves a Congressman with the courage to help build a new energy economy instead of selling the empty promise of coal.

Clearly, Enyart believes the coal industry is more important to his re-election effort than environmentalists and Obama supporters. He doesn't need our donations or volunteer efforts. I'm going to reply to his fundraising email by letting him know that he should direct it to coal industry executives and hope they pull through for him.

If someone isn't willing to tackle a problem that threatens the homes, jobs and lives of millions of people then I don't understand why they're in public office. Organizing for America has been targeting Republicans who won't take action on climate change. But, it was fossil fuel Democrats who stopped the cap-and-trade bill from getting a vote in the Senate. This problem will be solved when Democrats are forced to accept that they can oppose action on climate change or they can get re-elected. But they can't do both.

First posted at my blog.

Originally posted to Willinois on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Democrats need to accept that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FutureNow, Willinois, Just Bob

    sometimes it is necessary to cull the herd at primary time, or at the polls.

    •  Can we get a better Democrat there? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WorkerInUSA, Sylv, gramofsam1, CoyoteMarti

      And if not, isn't Enyart preferable to a Republican?

      They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

      by Ponder Stibbons on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 10:14:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with that (0+ / 0-)

        The district will not support a strong liberal. And the quickest way to lose an election is to get on the wrong side of a big employer.

        Pragmatism is an important trait in successful politicians.

        •  Cost-Benefit Analysis Only Works When All Factors (0+ / 0-)

          are considered.  Focusing on one large employer (or sector) only makes sense if most of the district's constituents are actually benefiting from that employer. From the diary, that's apparently not the case in Enyart's district:

          Do you know what actually caused a large electric rate increase in his district? The new Prairie State coal plant. New coal costs more than wind power. What's hurting the economy in his district lately? Record drought, extreme flooding, and not being able to move barge traffic along the Mississippi.
          Our reps are supposed to inform and educate us by discussing the situation as it is, come up with plans and show us a way forward. Enyart shouldn't get a pass because he's not up to speed on the changing local and regional economic issues.
      •  Yes. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus, majcmb1, DownstateDemocrat

        It's drawn to be a Democratic district in a populist region. A weak green party candidate won 5.6% of the vote, so Enyart could actually improve his margin of victory by appealing to those voters.

  •  I was in this district until 2009 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve in the Library

    I lived in Belleville, IL. The representative used to be Jerry Costello. He was a moderate who voted pro-life.

    The district is D due to E St Louis and other concentrations of minority voters. I was a little surprised at the ease with which Enyart won. Of course, his opponent was a newbie.

    The district is not going to support a liberal. It is a moderate district, and there are a lot of republicans in it. In addition, a representative has the obligation and duty to represent the industry within his district. One industry there is coal.

    If you ever drive on I-55 from Chicago to St Louis, you will see the sign at Mr. Olive, IL for the Mother Jones memorial. The coal fields there were a strong union organizing locale. If you stop, it's worth the 15 minute drive off the interstate. Coal is important to many in the area as it provides a source of jobs. Jobs are important.

    •  Averting climate change isn't a liberal thing. (6+ / 0-)

      Certainly jobs are important, but people can change jobs. They can train themselves for different jobs. The congressman can advocate for the kind of support that would help those people retool. He would serve them far better that way.

      In any case, there is no sane calculation where maintaining the jobs of a relatively small number of people over a period of 10-20 years is worth threatening the survival of, well, everybody.

      •  People like Enyart keep the area unemployed. (7+ / 0-)

        One of the biggest problems is that politicians in the area keep talking coal, coal, coal. But, it's an industry in decline. It has never made the region prosperous and it never will. The backward attitude of politicians in the pockets of coal executives keeps the region from bringing in new industries like wind and solar manufacturing.

        An exception is Mount Vernon, which has the lowest unemployment in the region. They've used their access to strategic highways and rail lines to make it a center for manufacturing and distribution. Waiting for the mines to re-open is a dead end strategy guaranteed to spread poverty.

    •  Speculative. False. (5+ / 0-)

      I've lived in the district and have been to the Mother Jones monument many times. She fought the exploitative nature of the coal industry that continues to this day.

      First, there are Democratic areas in the district outside of the metro-east area. There are still rural, white, Democratic parts of this district.

      Second, it's a populist area that could support a populist Democrat. People always held their nose to vote for Costello because he was the only option but he was unpopular in much of the district. Voter sentiment is not with a corporate tool, but that's the only option the party gives voters in the region over and over again. These corporate Democrats are not the best match for a region that is decidedly populist.

      It's no surprise that Enyart won because it was drawn to be a Democratic district. It's drawn safely enough that a liberal or a pro-environment moderate could win as well. The Green Party candidate got 5.6% of the vote in the last election. That's unusually large and it shows that Enyart isn't representing a significant part of the voter base. It also shows that he could improve his margin of victory from the last election by winning over those environmental voters.

      These simplistic assumptions you're making about moderate/liberal electability don't describe the district. A populist message that brings in more voters rather than pandering to corporate campaign dollars is a more viable strategy.

      Your suggestion that Enyart is obligated to let millions die because his district used to have a lot of coal jobs decades ago disgusts me. His first obligation is to ensure that people in the district don't lose their homes, jobs, and lives in climate change disasters, which is already happening with extreme flooding on the Mississippi.

      •  "rural white Democratic" (0+ / 0-)

        Really. Where? Specifically what areas are "rural white Democratic"?

        Far as I can tell, it's ESL, WP, a little of Edwardsville, some of Belleville that are D. The rest is R.

        •  You don't know the district (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CoyoteMarti, majcmb1

          as well as you think you do. Rural southern Illinois as been traditionally Democratic for generations and it still hasn't gone heavily Republican.

          Alexander and Jackson counties voted for Obama again in '12. Those and others frequently vote for Democrats on the statewide and local ballot. Pulaski was close. Cairo is in the district. Mount Vernon has a Dem state rep and a lot of Dem voters. There are many countywide elected Democrats and viable Dem organizations in the rural counties. And a lot of them are smart enough to look around and see that coal has never made their county rich and it never will, even if the industry is able to buy all the politicians.

    •  Illinois coal is very dirty, high in sulphur (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Willinois, CoyoteMarti, unfangus, majcmb1

      I spent more than half my life in Illinois.  I know how important the coal industry to southern Illinois; however, I also know how dirty that coal is.  Does anyone remember acid rain?  The sulphur dioxide emitted in burning cheap Illinois coal caused acid rain to fall over large portions of the eastern U.S. and led to the mandate of scrubbers on the stacks of coal burning power plants. The thing is while we have mandated scrubbers the Chinese have not, and a significant and growing proportion of the coal mined in Illinois is now being exported.

      Located in the central United States, the Illinois Basin ranges across Illinois, Indiana, and western Kentucky. The coal produced in this region is bituminous coal with relatively high sulfur content. Production within the state of Illinois (23.9 million short tons) has been a key driver of the basin production increase over the first half of 2012.

      Coal exports to international markets from Illinois increased 120% in 2011 (5.5 million tons) from 2010 (2.5 million tons). In addition, domestic demand for coal from the Illinois Basin, particularly from Illinois itself, increased as a result of a shift in demand toward the Illinois Basin's low-cost, high-sulfur coal and away from Central Appalachia's high-cost, low-sulfur coal. Domestic utilities that have added scrubbers can burn high-sulfur coal while remaining in compliance with recent requirements to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

      It is also the most dangerous type of coal to mine.
      Within the coal mining industry, this type of coal is known for releasing the largest amounts of firedamp, a dangerous mixture of gases that can cause underground explosions. Extraction of Bituminous coal demands the highest safety procedures involving attentive gas monitoring, good ventilation and vigilant site management.
      The mining of bituminous coal needs to stop, just like the use of gasoline in internal combustion engines of automobiles needs to stop.

      "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

      by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 11:17:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was born and raised in Belleville (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, Willinois, majcmb1

    in the way-back years (50s and 60s). Even then coal was looked on with caution, especially among the farmers. Lots of trickle-down promises made, not all that to show for it. And it seemed back then that the community's German catholic and protestant roots had a populist/progressive flavor.  Big on education, science, community service. Thanks for the update and perspective.

    “It has to have fire, or I won’t do it” – Angeles Arrien from Get Real! Wise Women Speak

    by CoyoteMarti on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 11:35:15 AM PDT

  •  it needs to be as unacceptable for a Democrat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    majcmb1, CupaJoe, Willinois

    to be flagrantly pro-coal as it is for a Democrat to be anti-choice.

    I want to primary him. Seriously. And I'm starting a project, Climate Hawks Vote - click my sig line for details - to do just that. Keep me informed.

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