Friday, June 20, 2008

Enviros & Partisanship - Again

Now here's a news flash -- the Sierra Club is supporting the Democratic candidate for President. In some years you could make the case that there were substantive reasons behind this. But McCain has been a bigger leader on the climate change issue -- at greater political cost than Obama or any of the other presidential contenders.

I don't begrudge Sierra Club their choice -- Sen. Obama has a fine environmental record. But so does Sen. McCain. The point that bothers me is to see groups that claim the mantle of environmental purists turning themselves into just another wing of the Democratic party.

Be a political interest group -- or be an environmental protection group -- but don't think you can be both at the same time and actually solve any problems.


CAMPAIGN 2008: Sierra Club throws support to Obama
Lydia DePillis, Greenwire reporter

The nation's biggest environmental organization formally announced its support today for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, at a press conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

"Our endorsement today marks the beginning of a massive mobilization of thousands of members around the country for the campaign -- on the phone, on the ground, on the airwaves and online," said Sierra Club President Allison Chin. "We support his plan to solve both our economic challenges and the challenge of global warming at the same time."

Sierra Club spokesman David Willett said the group will focus on Colorado and New Mexico -- especially the U.S. Senate campaigns of Democratic Reps. Mark Udall and Tom Udall, respectively -- and also on Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In previous presidential election years, the 750,000-member group spent between $8 million and $10 million on political campaigns and this year expects to spend about the same amount.

The club's national leaders were joined today by Leo Gerard, president of United Steelworkers International, which endorsed Obama on May 15. The USW is the United States' largest manufacturing union, with 850,000 members.

In June 2006, the two groups joined to form the Blue Green Alliance, which works to build support for green jobs, fair trade and reducing toxics in six key states: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. The alliance also partners with Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, in its Green Jobs for America campaign.

The AFL-CIO announced after a private meeting with Obama on Wednesday that it would be voting to endorse him "in the next few weeks." The organization, as of Thursday, had a presentation on its Web site entitled "McCain Revealed: The Briefing Book," warning about the GOP candidate's positions on jobs, health care, trade, workers' rights and retirement security.

Friends of the Earth also switched its allegiance to Obama in May, after having initially supported former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina in the Democratic primary race. Most other large environmental organizations have not endorsed a candidate yet

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