Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Environmentalists Against Actually Solving Climate Change!

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog -- I just launched another blog focusing on ag offsets in mandatory climate change legislation (visit it at -- so I have not had as much time to develop some of the Eco-Pragmatism themes I discussed earlier.

Almost as a prod for me to get back to this topic, many of the traditional "environmentalist" groups are now backing away from their earlier support of the Lieberman-Warner bill (or some never supported it as being too practical to begin with). Take a look at an excerpt from today's E&E Daily:
Greenpeace joined Friends of the Earth in demanding improvements to a climate bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) that could hit the Senate floor by the end of spring.

Let's be clear on what's going on here -- these are groups who have led the charge saying climate change is the worst problem facing the planet since . . . EVER, and they are now backing away from the bill that has the support of the GREENEST Senator in the body, Sen. Boxer, because SHE IS BEING TOO EASY ON POLLUTERS?? Give me a break!!!

How, you might ask, do these groups have the nerve to say this? Its quite simple really -- they don't care about passing a bill on climate change, they want to drag the issue out until the next administration (which they assume will be a Democrat) using it as a political football and fundraising vehicle in chief.

It is this type of hyper-partisan thinking that has turned off so many Americans from engaging in environmental policy -- which of course, has the added benefit of making the radical enviro groups have more weight than they should because fewer interests are engaged in learning about and shaping environmental policy.

It is these groups, unfortunately, who scream the loudest -- but people should know that they are not the only environmental voices out there. What's more -- people should see this as the golden opportunity that it is to embrace pragmatic solutions and present them to the public in a unified fashion. Industry is increasingly getting into the green game -- seeing profit where there used to be only expense -- and don't think that doesn't drive some of these groups absolutely crazy -- because to them profit is ALWAYS at the expense of the environment.

I'm so sick of the radical enviros (I say that to distinguish between the more moderate groups like The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense and National Wildlife Federation) defining environmental problems through a liberal political lens -- and NEVER accepting the fact that change happens incrementally and in a transformative way. Ultimately, they are not really trying to bring change -- they would rather just be "right" on their little purist policy islands.

You know who this kind of crap helps? POLLUTERS! Isn't that just priceless? I'd love to see an ad campaign with Exxon, Greenpeace and FOE -- because they are all on the same side of the issue -- just for different reasons of course.

Please read below the full article in today's E&E Daily for many examples of what I'm talking about.

The writing's on the wall -- since Sen. McCain looks like he is going to be the Republican nominee -- many enviro groups are gearing up to oppose him regardless of the fact that he was the leading breakthrough Republican on the issue they claim is of most importance to the planet. Its too bad that politics trumps the environment -- from groups who claim to have that as their only interest.

So - what are we going to do about this folks?? I have some ideas -- I'd like to hear yours -- then we can brainstorm next time.


CLIMATE: Enviro groups search for one voice in Lieberman-Warner debate (02/06/2008)

Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Daily senior reporter

Environmental groups remain at odds over whether Senate Democrats should push for compromise global warming legislation in 2008.

Climate Change: Taking stock of Industrial Emissions -- An E&E Special Report
Lieberman-Warner: The 60-vote climb chart

On Monday, Greenpeace joined Friends of the Earth in demanding improvements to a climate bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) that could hit the Senate floor by the end of spring.

Other green groups say they feel the same way. But most are taking a less aggressive public stance as the bill's lead sponsors embark on the painstaking struggle to find 60 votes in favor of a first-ever U.S. cap on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer stands in the middle of the debate.

The California Democrat is trying to keep together a fragile coalition that voted in December to move the bill out of the EPW Committee. But she also must win over at least a dozen other senators who haven't traditionally favored strict government mandates.

As Boxer and her allies make their pitch, Friends of the Earth piped up last week with a Web and print ad campaign calling for Democrats working on the Lieberman-Warner bill to either "Fix It or Ditch It."

The group asked why Democrats would try to move a climate plan that is weaker than proposals from the party's own presidential candidates, especially when Lieberman and Warner both endorse Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's bid for the White House.

Boxer responded in an interview last week that she was "focused like a laser beam on getting the strongest bill through the Senate." And she questioned whether Friends of the Earth's strategy took into account the complexity of moving climate legislation through Congress while also notching White House support.

"They're sort of the defeatist group out there," Boxer said. "They've been defeatists from day one. And it's unfortunate. They're isolated among the environmental groups" (E&E Daily, Jan. 31).

Greenpeace steps in

Fanned by several left-leaning blogs, Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director John Passacantando came to Friends of the Earth's defense in a letter sent Monday to Boxer.

"I write to express my profound disappointment in your reaction to Friends of the Earth's 'Fix It or Ditch It' campaign," Passacantando wrote. "I was surprised to read your reaction because in my mind, their 'Fix It or Ditch It' campaign represents the principles I thought you stood for."

At the start of 2007, Boxer cosponsored an aggressive climate plan with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that pressed for deep emission cuts of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. But to the chagrin of many on the left, Boxer worked over the year to help craft the Lieberman-Warner compromise plan that included less stringent mid-century targets.

Boxer responded to Passacantando yesterday with a letter of her own in support of the Lieberman-Warner bill, which she said included tougher short-term emission targets in 2020 compared with the Sanders-Boxer bill. Also, Boxer maintained the legislation pending before the Senate would make tens of billions of dollars in "unprecedented investment" in wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.

"We share a commitment to protecting the planet," Boxer wrote to Greenpeace. "We both understand that time is of the essence in the fight against global warming. I believe that we have an opportunity with the Lieberman-Warner bill to make enormous progress toward our shared goals. It is time to bring the global warming debate to the floor of the U.S. Senate."

Greenpeace climate campaigner Chris Miller said yesterday that Friends of the Earth was not isolated, citing student activists and author Bill McKibben's "Step it Up" campaign that led to two nationwide public protests in support of much stronger U.S. global warming legislation.

Miller also argued that Boxer and the Democrats shouldn't compromise now considering lawmakers will likely only have one shot at adopting near-term climate legislation. "They've got to get it right," he said. "The way they handle every other issue is to get it done and say they got it done, and then it goes away for a long time."

Environmental Defense earlier this week signaled it would stand behind Boxer's effort to get a bill through Congress along the lines of the Lieberman-Warner plan.

Mark MacLeod, director of the special projects division at Environmental Defense, sent Senate offices an e-mail pleading with them to coordinate on a letter or ad campaign in support of Boxer, the Senate EPW Committee and the Lieberman-Warner legislation.

"There are growing calls in the liberal blogosphere for opposition to the bill and a general push against passing any climate bill in this Congress," MacLeod wrote. "This position has NOT yet solidified but will become orthodoxy if we do not present a counterview from respected pro-environment voices."

OpenLeft, the Daily Kos and a number of other liberal blogs reported on MacLeod's email.

Familiar refrain

It's nothing new to see environmental groups fight over strategy. But it's far from clear what effect the current feud will have on this year's debate.

Officials at the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council declined comment yesterday when asked about the latest chapter in the internal environmental group feud.

Rafe Pomerance, a former Clinton administration climate negotiator who now runs the advocacy group Clean Air-Cool Planet, said environmental groups shouldn't be so sure they'll get a better climate law in 2009 -- even if a Democrat wins the White House.

"The environmentalists have got a problem," he said "They've got themselves locked into positions where it's difficult to move. ... They've got very high expectations."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of the key swing votes in the Senate climate debate, said the environmentalists' concerns are just one of many subplots in the debate.

"I don't know if it will cause it to self-implode," she said. "It's a dynamic that's part of the mix right now."

Boxer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hope to bring the Lieberman-Warner bill up before the end of May. Once there, they're sure to face a filibuster threat from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the EPW Committee.

In an interview yesterday, Inhofe predicted victory once Reid sees he doesn't have the 60 votes needed to limit the debate. "I'm not sure he's going to want to bring something up that is going to consume six weeks," Inhofe said.


  1. You may think Lieberman-Warner is a good bill. We do not. To us, giving polluters a trillion dollars in handouts is not the way to solve global warming. If you disagree, fine, but please don't question our sincerity or our motives.

    I work at Friends of the Earth Action and I can tell you I and every person here cares deeply about fighting global warming. "They don't care about passing a bill on climate change," is a blatantly false assertion for which you have no evidence. Readers who are curious about our rationale are welcome to visit for more info.

    Nick Berning
    Friends of the Earth

  2. I'm sure you personally have a sincere motivation -- and many of the people who work at the lower levels of groups like yours do as well.

    But your organization as a whole has demonstrated time and again a total disregard for the need to win people over and build up to change. Since your organization rejects the only proven path for accomplishing change, it is clear to me that the organization as a whole does not really want change.