Those who truly loathe and despise the environmental movement will enjoy this New York Times account of green activists squirming in impotent fury over President Obama’s latest “betrayal,” last week’s decision to stiff environmentalists over promised plans to tighten nationwide ozone emissions standards.
The question for environmentalists became, what to do next? ’There is shock and chaos here,’ Mr. Walke [the clean air director of the Natural Resources Defense Council] said, ‘so I do not know. I can’t answer that question.’ But he added that his group would resume a smog lawsuit against the government that it had dropped because it had been lulled into believing that this administration would enact tougher regulations without being forced to do so by the courts.
Political analysts watching the Obama administration’s pullback from the environmental agenda this past month say that in the current climate there is little chance that environmentalists or their allies will ever side with the Republicans. After all, the Republican-led House of Representatives has been aggressively moving to curtail protections for endangered species and regulations for clean air and water, and most of the Republican presidential candidates have been intensely critical of any government effort to address climate change.
Still, they say, the president could face political repercussions in subtler but nevertheless corrosive ways: from losing volunteer enthusiasm to tying up his allies in fights with him instead of with his enemies.
As green leaders choke on their locally sourced, organic heirloom vegetables in impotent rage and ponder writing really, really angry letters to NPR, it is interesting to reflect on the political dead end into which they have been driven. Two years ago they thought they were on the verge of sweeping global climate treaty that would enshrine their pet climate change remedies into international law. Wrong: the treaty process collapsed of its own weight into the most embarrassing international fiasco since the Kellogg Briand Pact outlawed war.
Next they were certain that the most liberal Democratic majority in American history would cooperate with the Obama White House to advance sweeping climate and environmental regulations. Wrong again: cap and trade died as moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats deserted the cause despite all the compromises and pork barrel blandishments with which increasingly desperate greens larded the increasingly weak and despicable bill.
Well, no matter, said the often defeated but never reflective green leadership as it wiped more egg off its face. There is always the EPA. The Obama administration had staffed the agency with reliable green cadres who were sure to come out with such aggressive regulations that fundamental changes in environmental policy would be made without the inconvenience of an actual congressional vote. This administration’s extraordinarily active EPA delivered, but once the White House processed the actual economic costs involved, it dropped the greens like a hot brick.
Now that those plans have been dashed, greens contemplate a run to the courts. This will also fail; if the courts interpret the laws in ways that mandate economically ruinous policy changes, Congress will rewrite the laws as a wave of anti-green populism sweeps a job-hungry land — and in the current political climate Congress will take advantage of the opportunity to kill some of the environmentalists’ favorite provisions.
Snail darters beware: green political cluelessness is about to rock your world.
The United States and the world need a strong and intelligent environmental movement. We won’t get one until and unless the press stops flattering and indulging the pack of incompetents who currently lead it. Good (but poorly conceptualized) intentions linked to terminally stupid ideas and self defeating methods are a terrible curse. They steadily discredit environmentalism and push those who care about the environment away from real influence. I don’t actually enjoy tweaking the greens — but until the mainstream press gets on the case, somebody has to point the way.