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Why progress on the environment is endangered

February 10, 2010

In nature there is no separation between the economics and the environment.

James Carville

“It’s the economy stupid.”  James Carville advised in 1992. When it comes to environmental issues such as global warming it would be wised to heed this savvy advice. Right now the environmental agenda has been shoved off the stove. Consider:

·  The Climate Conference in Copenhagen ended with no real agreement on tangible steps to solve the problem. Getting Congress to ratify even small cuts in carbon emissions will be tough sledding for the Obama Administration.

·  Even Democratic members of the Senate and House are sponsoring legislation to stop EPA from its attempt to regulate carbon emissions.

·  Obama pledges $54 billion in loan guarantees to promote nuclear power. Imagine what this could do for wind and solar.

On the other hand, the political right and their corporate funders are waging ever aggressive campaigns to paint the climate change issue as a “green scare” or a “snow job.” In California, conservative forces have launched a ballot initiative that if passed would rescind California’s landmark requirements to curb carbon emissions — until unemployment is reduced from its current 12.5 percent to 5 percent. The message is anything but subtle — environmental regulations are killing the economy. To make matters work Republicans will use this initiative to unseat Senator Barbara Boxer, a long time champion, of environmental issues and climate change legislation (She chairs the critical Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).

The conservatives are winning right now because:  (1) they are connecting with working and middle class anger and fears on economic security (2) they have framed the issue – the first step in a winning strategy.

The Democrats have not helped. With command of the White House, Senate and House, they have not taken serious steps to regulate the financial industry (now more consolidated and too-big-to-fail than ever). They have not prevented foreclosures for millions of families. The Administration’s Geithnerist strategy (appeasement) toward the credit-stingy, profit-hungry mega-banks is not very likely to win the favor of angry people who see their economic well being going down the drain while bank executives  enjoy ten billion dollar + bonuses. Unless the Administration acts visibly and aggressively to create jobs and regulate the financial industry, the right will continue to win in their efforts to take back the Congress and derail efforts to protect the environment.It’s our job to remind the President of his promises and to awaken the people’s movement that elected him.

"Let's be reasonable."

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