Saturday we awoke to news that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
I am sure the Koch brothers are smiling this morning because they have been cultivating Congressman Ryan since he set foot on Capitol Hill, giving him one of his first donations in 1999.
Koch Industries, owners of one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world, has been the 6th largest contributors to Cong. Ryan during his career, giving him $65,500. In fact, the oil and gas industry has given him $244,250 since 1999. Now sure, the Koch Brothers are behind Philip Morris, and the NRA, but they played the long game with this career-politician pick and Ryan as VP will solidify their support.
The fossil fuel industry was already sitting pretty even before the Ryan selection. The Romney campaign has already benefited from the overwhelming spending of outside groups, like Restore our Future, a well known Koch-funded entity, that has already spent $14,011,137 in a brazen effort to buy the White House. What has this money bought for the polluters?
Romney went from standing in front of a coal plant talking about how they kill people in 2003 to standing with one of the most radical members of the Senate, James Inhofe (R-OK) to stop EPA’s efforts to reduce mercury from power plants. As my colleague at NRDC, John Walke, says, “It’s appalling that anyone would vote to expose our children to more mercury, a dangerous brain poison, and over 80 other toxic air pollutants that power plants in the U.S. spew every day.” John goes onto note that these standard are projected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths; nearly 5,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and 540,000 days when people miss work and school.
For his part, Cong. Ryan, with his abysmal 16% League of Conservation Voters score, has voted to delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators that also emit mercury. He voted against efforts to protect communities from coal ash – the toxic byproduct of burning coal that contains arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals – metals that when some are ingested have devastating results like lower IQ.
As someone who spent much of her youth in towns in Appalachia surrounding these coal facilities, I can tell you that the devastation is enormous and the fact that Ryan took the side of the polluters instead of children with learning disabilities caused in some part by that pollution is astonishing. Add on top of all of this, the cuts that Ryan’s budget proposed – cuts that would’ve devastated community water systems and kept enforcement cops off the street who keep companies from breaking laws that protect our communities. Heck, his budget would’ve even eliminated programs for sidewalks, not to mention public transportation infrastructure.
Yes, Koch Industries is sitting pretty today. Let’s hope that the voters see in November see that a Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t about protecting their families or helping us get on the right track – it is the best ticket dirty money can buy. Look no further than the record to see for yourself.