An open letter to Congressman Rod Blum from a 1st District constituent:
Congressman Blum, at your Cedar Rapids town hall in May you told the crowd politicians’ financial disclosure forms reveal more than their tax returns. On that advice, I scrutinized your financial disclosure forms and my jaw dropped. How many of your constituents know that are worth over $15 million? Some rich people – Warren Buffett, Bill Gates – invest in good causes and give away lots of money.
So what are you investing your money in?
According to your financial disclosure forms, since elected to Congress you purchased between $250,000 and $600,000 in fossil fuel company stock. In 2015, you bought $50,000-$100,000 of assets in PDC Energy Inc., a Colorado-based oil and gas company that drills in Colorado, Texas, and Ohio. In June 2017, under President Trump’s administration, the Department of Justice, the EPA, and the State of Colorado sued PDC Energy Inc. for violating the Clean Air Act. It appears PDC Energy Inc. illegally leaked volatile organic compounds from storage tanks near Denver, Colorado. These volatile organic compounds, when leaked into the air, create ground level ozone – that is, smog.
On February 24, 2015, you purchased $100,000-$250,000 of Conoco-Phillips Stock. On September 26, 2016, you purchased $100,000-$250,000 of Exxon-Mobil stock. Since becoming my Congressman, you purchased at least $250,000 of Fossil Fuel company assets. Today, you have up to $600,000 invested in out-of-state and multi-national oil and gas companies.
I don’t know the exact worth of your fossil fuel investments because your financial disclosure forms only require you to give a range. Congressman Blum, exactly how much money do you have invested in these oil and gas companies? I invite all of my fellow constituents to ask you the same question.
None of this information should surprise you. Since the beginning of July, I have met with your Cedar Rapids office staff on three separate occasions. At each of those three meetings, I relayed this information verbally and in a letter to give to you. Each time I met with your staff I asked you to divest of these fossil fuel investments. I met with your staff in good faith to give you the chance to do the right thing and divest of your fossil fuel investments.
As I said in my letters, although I disagree with your environmental record, if you were to divest of your fossil fuel investments, I would be the first to stand and applaud you for it. Until now, I have received no response from you. This tells me you do not care about the environmental concerns of 1st District Iowans. I am disappointed, though not surprised since I and others here in Cedar Rapids have asked for a meeting with you since January and you have refused to meet with us.
When asked about climate change, you obfuscate. For instance, you say the earth’s climate has been changing for the past 4.5 billion years old, so we should be skeptical of scientists who say humans cause climate change. You dispute the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists whose research indicates that 1. It’s warming, 2. It’s us (caused by humans), 3. We’re sure, 4. It’s bad, and 5. We can fix it.
Just as we are wise to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer, so we are wise to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing global warming. Just this month 190 researchers from 39 different Iowa colleges and universities published the 2017 Iowa Climate Statement. These Iowa experts indicate that since 1970 the springtime absolute humidity in your home town of Dubuque increased 23% due to climate change.
This increased humidity caused by climate change hurts Iowa’s outdoor and agricultural workforce and Iowans with health needs. This increased humidity harms Iowa farmers and makes building maintenance and repair more expensive. Not to mention that it makes flooding here in Cedar Rapids more likely.
Congressman Blum, you must begin to put the needs of your constituents above your own pocketbook. Stop investing in fossil fuel companies whose activities pollute our air and water. Stop investing in out-of-state and multi-national corporations that do nothing to help the people of Iowa or Iowa’s economy. I call on you to divest from PDC Energy Inc., Conoco-Phillips, and Exxon-Mobil. I invite my fellow constituents here in Iowa’s 1st district to join me in these demands.
Instead of investing in dirty fossil fuel companies, invest in renewable energy right here in Iowa. Iowa’s renewable energy economy is creating jobs, maintaining air and water quality, and improving Iowans’ health and well-being. Iowa currently obtains almost 40% of its energy from renewable sources. 40%’s a good start, but the threat of human-caused climate change demands that we move as quickly as possible to a 100% renewable energy economy. Your $15+ million fortune could do much to push Iowa toward 100% renewable energy.
Add your name to a petition calling on Blum to divest: https://www.change.org/p/congressman-rod-blum-congressman-blum-divest-of-your-fossil-fuel-assets
by Caleb Gates
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