My final statement to the coal industry

by Carroll Muffett

June 27, 2008

This morning’s session of Coal USA 2008 wrapped up at 12:30, and I was asked to speak again. I delivered the statement below. They tried to cut me off, but speaking evenly and quietly, I got out almost all of it, including the questions at the end, which were the critical part.

It was one of the final statements of the day.

Here is the statement text:

Thank you for the opportunity to take the floor again. The last two days have been extremely instructive in better understanding not only the challenges the coal industry faces but also how those who work in the industry see their role in coal and in the world.

It is also useful to meet the people behind the companies. It’s easy to forget that companies are, at heart, just collections of people. And it’s good to be reminded of that. Because ultimately it’s not companies that make good or bad decisions, it’s people. The actions companies take reflect nothing more nor less than the  collective decisions of individual people. People like you.

So, I’ve been pleased to find that most of the folks we’ve met here seem like decent, reasonable people with their own problems, their own concerns, their own families to take care of. They are citizens, neighbors, parents. Just like me. And just like me, I’ve found, they are concerned for the welfare of not only their own children, but children everywhere. So I would like to speak to you not just as Greenpeace, but as a parent.

There has been a significant response here to our young activists yesterday, one of whom was my daughter, Kate. Kate came here because she feels strongly about global warming and, more personally, because her grandmother – one of her closest friends – died of cancer last summer after living for years in the shadow of one of the country’s dirtiest coal stations. Drew, another of the kids who came, did so because he has severe asthma himself. And he wanted you to know.

Kate and Drew and Mike were proud to be here. And they were proud of their parents for deciding to let them come.

What I would like you to consider as you leave this meeting is, are your kids proud of the decisions you make? And will they still be proud 10, 20, 30 years from now as the environmental chaos of global warming becomes an ever grimmer reality in our daily lives?

Perhaps you can tell them: "It wasn’t me. It was the company that did it.”

Perhaps you can explain to your kids: "I polluted the air because my boss made me do it. I poisoned the water to increase shareholder value. I denied global warming because the board demanded it. I supported CCS because it was the industry’s only hope. And I refused to believe in solutions, because I was paid to believe in coal."

Will that answer make your kids happy? Will it make them proud? Will it help them forgive you?

You can choose a better future for them. For yourself. For the world. You can make them proud. The choice is not the company’s. It is yours.

I ask you to choose wisely.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.