The passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 brings a sharp wake-up call to those who hoped that bringing the Democrats to power in Washington D.C. would end the corrupt influence of the fossil fuel industry seen under George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republican Congress. Democrats in control of both houses put funding for “clean coal” into the bill, passed it without removing the funding, and then sent it to Barack Obama, who signed the “clean coal” funding into law.
What’s the problem? Why shouldn’t the government fund “clean coal”? It’s clean, after all, right? Not really. There’s a reason I keep on putting “clean coal” into quotes.
First of all, “clean coal” technology doesn’t really exist. Engineers are still trying to make it up, using government money. Secondly, even if the goals of “clean coal” schemers are met, the coal still won’t be clean. The process of mining the coal and dealing with the wastes will still be extremely dirty and insufficient.
So, why are Democrats in Congress and the White House supporting inefficient, polluting, remarkably ungreen energy technology? It’s for the same reason that the Republicans did: Fossil fuel companies have lots of lobbyists and make lots of campaign contributions.
The passage of the “clean coal” funding isn’t just a sign that we can’t trust Barack Obama and the Democrats on environmental and energy issues. It’s a sign that we can’t trust them to resist the corrupt machinery of corporate politics either.
Oh, but don’t give in to the temptation to just throw your hands up into the air and just say that politicians are all bums. It’s not just the politicians’ faults, you see. They couldn’t get away with their corrupt dealings if the American people would pay attention and hold them accountable. The American people are getting corrupt government because they’re, on the whole, too lazy to pay attention to the little details of what their elected officials are up to.