Big Loss: Senate Kills Stream Protection Act;
Local Win: Beyond Coal Battles Utility Hikes
Don Corrigan serves up his weekly opinion about who deserves a dagger for being a foe to the environment and who deserves a daisy for being a friend of the environment.
This week: Congress and the Sierra Club
Daggers to Congress’s Polluters, who killed the Stream Protection Act on behalf of the flailing coal industry. The destruction of the Stream Protection Act means that coal operations can rip up the landscape and dump debris from mining directly into creeks and streams with impunity. The Department of the Interior originally issued the rule to protect 6,000 miles of streams and acres and acres of forest by creating a buffer zone between mines and waterways. The rule addressed the adverse impacts of mining on America’s water resources from groundwater to surface water. Among those praising the killing of the Stream Protection Act is Robert Murray, chief executive of coal producer Murray Energy, who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to climate science deniers in Congress. Among those taking a bow for their fossil fuel industry benefactors in the 2016 election – Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy. These leaders in the GOP Congress all worked to kill Stream Protection.
Daisies to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which scored a local win in the battle to encourage reduction of fossil fuel use. The Sierra Club reached a settlement in the latest Ameren rate hike case – a settlement which advances energy conservation. Sierra Club and other allies in this case, including Renew Missouri and the Missouri Division of Energy, pressed Ameren to restructure its rates to encourage energy conservation in what is called an “inclining block rate” structure. Under this rate structure, customers who use less energy are charged less per unit of energy (i.e., kilowatt hour) that they use. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment by incentivizing energy conservation, reducing emissions and other impacts from coal-fired power and eliminating or postponing the need for new power generation. According to Sierra, this case demonstrated significant public interest in energy conservation. There were more than 1,500 comments submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) opposing high fixed charges and calling for rates to encourage energy conservation. The settlement will now undergo a review by the PSC, a process that is expected to take approximately one month.
Daggers & Daisies, a regular weekly opinion feature of Environmental Echo, singles out friends and foes of the Earth for attention. Readers are encouraged to submit nominees for Daggers & Daisies and can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org