Why do pale green NGOs support Obama?

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The Sierra Club’s advertising campaign and its praise for Obama reveal how little it takes to appease mainstream, corporate-minded environmentalists. 

Press Action, January 18, 2012 (abridged)

The Sierra Club is running a “high-saturation” television advertising campaign in major media markets in Ohio, thanking President Barack Obama for protecting Americans from toxic pollution.

Some political observers wondered whether Obama would lose the support of Big Green groups, given his penchant for appeasing business interests at the expense of the environment. But most astute analysts understood that the mainstream enviros would always come back to Obama, no matter how bad his policies were for the environment. …

The Sierra Club’s advertising campaign and its praise for Obama reveal how little it takes to appease mainstream, corporate-minded environmentalists. “President Obama stood up to polluters,” the Sierra Club ad says.

But how boldly is Obama standing up to polluters? Let’s take a look at his record on both the “little scraps” and the real difference-makers.

This is the same president who in September 2011 withdrew tougher new ground-level ozone standards that had been drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Obama’s decision to overrule the EPA on the smog standards was praised by Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, certainly no friend of the environment. …

This is the same president who in May 2011 decided to delay a rule that would cut emissions from power plants at major industrial facilities. This month, a federal court scolded the Obama administration, ruling that the EPA had needlessly suspended implementation of what is known as the boiler MACT rule. The court called the delay “arbitrary and capricious.”

This is the same president who in March 2011 opened a large part of Wyoming to coal mining. “The decision was the carbon equivalent of opening 300 coal-fired power plants,” author and environmentalist Bill McKibben said.

This is the same president who, after a government-mandated moratorium on drilling that ended in the fall of 2010, has allowed the oil and gas industry to get back to business as usual in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil disaster that started in April 2010. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s recent western Gulf oil and gas lease sale attracted more than $337 million in high bids, and now the Obama administration is preparing to hold 10 more Gulf of Mexico lease sales.

This is the same president who this month released a report praising the boom in U.S. natural gas production, despite the extensive environmental damage caused by the shale gas revolution in communities across the country. …

This is the same president who touts endless economic growth, despite the fact we live in a world with finite “natural resources.” …

This is the same president who decided during the summer of 2011 to delay finalizing new regulations for the disposal of coal ash and other coal combustion waste. More than three years after the coal ash spill at TVA’s Kingston plant in Tennessee, the EPA still has yet to establish new federal protections for coal ash.

This is the same president who in his rejection of the presidential permit for TransCanada’s Keystone XL crude oil pipeline on January 18 emphasized that the rejection was not based on the merits of the project, but the “arbitrary nature” of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information “necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.” …

And this is the same president who continues to let the world’s worst polluter of all, the U.S. military, destroy communities and ecosystems around the world.

Mickey Z. writes:

“Keep this in mind the next time you hear the phrase ‘war on terror’: Our tax dollars are subsidizing a global eco-terror campaign and all the recycled toilet paper in the world ain’t gonna change that. In other words, if we don’t want our legacy to be one of inaction, we must create drastic, permanent change very, very soon.”

1 Comment

  • Based on my experience with Canadian environmental professionals, they have to toe the line to preserve their careers and lifestyles. An upper-middle class lifestyle is only possible through an organization that has access to prosperous clients or patrons. Everything falls into place around these parameters.