MHP   |  January 19, 2014

The need to pivot toward clean energy

The MHP panel continues their conversation on the West Virginia Chemical spill and if this is a chance to have a national conversation to pivot toward clean energy.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> he actually drinks the instant milk. so you have to have jugged water for him to mix up his formula with. plus, i use that water to heat in this kettle, which i heat up water this morning in the kettle to sterilize his baby bottles. because he can't drink them without me cleaning them.

>> that's a lot, huh?

>> it's a big inconvenience. it takes about 30 minutes to an hour now to get him fully prepped to wash the dishes, get these bottles sterilized, his formula made.

>> so this isn't fun?

>> no.

>> that was west virginia mom, penny favro last week, zrabing what it takes to take care of her 9-month-old son after thousands of gallons of chemicals poured into the city's water supply on january 9th . i'll remind viewers that the do not drink the water advisory in west virginia has now been lifted, but pregnant women are still advised to stick to bottled water . and yesterday's charleston gazette said that a total of 411 patients have been treated at ten hospitals, reported for chemical exposure. no patients in critical condition, none still at the hospital, but 411 folks. so in other words, i don't want to be an alarmist, but, boy, i want to sound the alarm, right?

>> yeah, another point to make is, yeah, no one wants their water to have chemicals in it , but it will be interesting to see beyond this, how west virginias, if they organize and push for more regulation, i haven't on on the ground since this happened, was from a lot of the reports i'm reading, what i'm hearing from from various individuals is we don't need necessarily more regulation, but the state failed to withhold -- to enforce the regulations already there, or we need more regulation for this particular circumstance to avoid that, but no one really at the top echelons is calling for, let's get rid of the coal industry . because coal drives a lot of the economy there, and people are concerned.

>> i want to pick up on exactly -- let me just look at what manchin said and let you respond to it. i think it's exactly this point. senator manchin said in today's "new york times" that coal and chemicals, inevitably bring risk, but that doesn't mean that they should be shut down. to err is human and you're going to stop living as -- are you going to stop living because you're afraid of making a mistake? and this is constantly the claim, particularly on these communities, they've got to make a choice between economic development and their health.

>> and this is a completely false argument. senator manchin is bought and paid for by the coal industry , as our congress and house of representatives are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industries. we should be having a conversation about more regulations. this is meaningless. where we have regulations on the books, they're not being enforced at all. they're completely deprived of funds. we'll be having a national conversation about where we're getting our energy from. look at coal. even if you developed it perfectly, you're burning tons of co2 into the atmosphere, natural gas , another fossil fuel . we have to tie these conversations together. 71% of americans support more wind farms 75% of americans support more solar. we can do everything we need energy wise in this country, with renewable energy . where is president obama ? we've had the greatest environmental catastrophe in american history in the gulf with oil. we have the biggest movement against fossil fuel drilling in the country's history with fracking for natural gas . we have mountaintop removal and this kind of disaster related to coal. we've never had a greater moment to work with political will towards the end of fossil fuels . that is the answer to this question. we're talking about chemicals here in the hundreds that are being exposed. i mean, the incidents of this type that are happening all over the country, i mean, we were in here just a few months ago talking about the last one.

>> josh, i love where you've taken us. you've taken us to this question of, where's the political will. i want to listen for a moment to speaker boehner, who similarly lays this problem at the feet of the president, but in a very different way, and then i want to get into the politics here.

>> the issue is this. we have enough regulations on the books. and what the administration should be doing is doing their jobs. why wasn't this plant inspected since 1991 ? i am entirely confident that there are ample regulations already on the books to protect the health and safety of the american people . somebody ought to be held accountable here.

>> so the leader of the great deregulation party claims that it's the president's fault that something that happened in the '90s, when he was a state senator, right, that it's his responsibility, right. then, again, keeps us from going to the conversation that josh is trying to bring up that, wait a minute, our problem is our reliance on these very industries.

>> the first thing is you have to have adequate safeguards to protect the public and implement and enforce them. that's the party of shrinking government. they're not giving the government the means, the federal government , or the state government , the means to do their job, or holding them accountable to do that. so the first thing is, protect the people. the second thing is exactly what josh says. we have to pivot as quickly as possible to clean energy . right now we have an energy boom across this country. charleston, west virginia , is not the only place that's facing the consequences of this enormous boom. there are communities where fracking is going on, there are communities where there are pipelines, pipeline spills, rail accidents that are happening. people across the country are increasingly alarmed about what they are being exposed to and what risks their families and their children are being exposed to. we have to shift that and go towards a clean energy future, and hold the politicians account able to ensure that we do that.

>> bob, hr 526?

>> yes, the appalachian communities health emergency act, melissa. that has been in the congress since june of 2012 . and the fact of the matter is, that's a first step, a step forward in trying to ascertain why it is that just being a west virginian can be so hazardous to your health. you know, everything that you just mentioned is a function of the feckless december deign that the political class and the industrial class has for people who live and work in west virginia . back when the birth defect study on mountaintop removal was released, the national mining association said it was a failure, because it failed to take into account appalachian people's proclivities for incest. joe manchin now says we're going to quit living because somebody made a mistake? no, you're going to quit living because somebody made a mistake, not because you made a mistake. when the cancer study was released a few months ago, governor earl ray tomlin said, well, every day, somebody else says something makes you sick. now with regard to this increase in hospital visits, bless my soul if governor earl ray didn't step out and say, well, that's because it's flu season.

>> right. so this is so important. i know we're running out of time , but marcus, i don't want to lose this. because this is one of the central issues in environmental justice battles. and that is that local communities often underresourced, cannot use their experiential data to push back against these major corporations. so, look, we're going to the hospitals, we have birth defects and we have cancer. people understanding in their own lives what illness looks like, and yet are being told by the experts, right? sometimes on the environmental side, sometimes on the corporate side, sometimes on the government side. you're just being dramatic. that's not really happening as a result of this.

>> that's a problem, and that has helped, the much greater resources all those entities have, as opposed to local folks, as also helped to tamp down what would be local political action to actually change things. change who they send to washington or to the capital. it doesn't change, because they're not empowered to do that. and they believe that, in fact, they won't have jobs if they allow regulations, greater regulation, or these existing regulations to be enforceded. where i think this joins, where you started your show today, is this question of trust. while that may work in the short-term, long-term, we have a deterioration of trust. and that's what we started off with top to have the show talking about. and that is dangerous for democracy. and that is dangerous for the future of the western formal government.

>> bob kincaid. i so appreciate you joining us and speaking out for the people of west virginia in part, because, you know, so many of us live in communities who feel like they are often disposable communities. and i appreciate your voice. also to josh fox, elahe, and marcus mabry. coming up, laverne cox and c.c. mcdonald join us live their first television interview since mcdonald's release from prison. her story is up next. what