Rod Blum needs to divest from fossil fuels

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At a Cedar Rapids town hall this spring, U.S. Rep. Rod Blum said financial disclosure forms filed by politicians reveal more than tax returns.

On that advice, I scrutinized Blum’s disclosures and my jaw dropped. How many constituents know Blum is worth more than $15 million? That’s right — our Congressman is a multimillionaire! Can a multimillionaire understand and represent my family as we struggle to live paycheck to paycheck? Some wealthy people give money to charity and invest in good causes. What does Rep. Blum invest his money in?

Blum’s disclosures reveal, since elected to Congress, he purchased between $250,000 and $600,000 in fossil fuel company stock. In 2015, Blum bought $50,000 to $100,000 in PDC Energy Inc., a Colorado-based oil and gas company that drills in Colorado, Texas and Ohio. The company was sued earlier this year by the Trump administration and Colorado officials for leaking smog-causing chemicals into the air.

Also in 2015, Blum purchased between $100,000 and $250,000 in Conoco-Phillips stock. And, in 2016, he purchased between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon-Mobil stock.

Since elected to Congress, Blum has purchased at least a quarter of a million in fossil fuel assets, with total investments in out-of-state and multinational oil and gas companies up to $600,000. I cannot give a more exact amount because Congressional disclosure forms provide only a range.

I have written letters and met with Blum’s staff multiple times calling on my Congressman to divest of these fossil fuel companies. I encourage my fellow constituents to do the same.

To date, I’ve received no response to my written or in-person requests. Although I disagree with Blum’s environmental record, I would applaud a divestment decision. I am disappointed, yet unsurprised, by Blum’s failure to respond. Since January, I and others in Cedar Rapids have asked for a meeting. Blum has refused.

When asked about climate change, Blum obfuscates and refuses to support the overwhelming scientific consensus that: 1) It’s warming, 2) It’s us (human-caused), 3) It’s bad, 4) We’re sure, and 5) We can fix it. Just as science shows smoking causes cancer, science shows that human activities drive current global warming.

Just last 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 Blum’s hometown of Dubuque increased 23 percent due to climate change. This increased humidity 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. Climate change also makes flooding in Cedar Rapids more likely.

Congressman Blum must begin to put the needs of his constituents above his own pocketbook. He must stop investing in fossil fuel companies whose activities pollute our air and water. He must stop investing in out-of-state and multinational corporations that do nothing to help Iowa’s people or economy. I call on Congressman Blum to divest from PDC Energy Inc, Conoco-Phillips, and Exxon-Mobil. I invite my fellow District 1 constituents to join me in these demands.

Blum should invest in renewable energy right here in Iowa, not dirty fossil fuel companies. Iowa renewable energy creates jobs, protects water and air quality, and improves Iowans’ health and well-being.

Iowa currently obtains nearly 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Human-caused climate change demands we move as quickly as possible to 100 percent renewable energy. Blum’s $15 million fortune could help us obtain that goal.

• Caleb Gates is a resident of Cedar Rapids and a member of Indivisible Iowa

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