Glen Hurowitz is providing a great example of how the "professional left" works hard to support Republicans like Joe Barton. Mr. Hurowitz who is a "senior fellow" at the Center for International Policy wrote to me on Twitter:
Dems can't win if nobody trusts them to stand up for clean air and water, jobs, values they ran on
and the body of his work is a shabby and dishonest effort to paint Democrats in general and President Obama in particular as untrustworthy on exactly those issues. Here's Hurowitz in Grist magazine:
Indeed, as recently as Wednesday, the Associated Press had reported that Obama was insisting that congressional Democrats swallow rollbacks to EPA's authority to crack down on climate emissions, mountaintop-removal coal mining, and Chesapeake Bay pollution as the price for passing a budget deal
What Hurrowitz neglects to mention is that the White House denied that report, that the report was written by an AP writer who Media Matters notes has produced dubious pro-Republican reporting in the past and that Grist itself had retracted the story
the day before (see this for more
). Hurowitz also neglected to explain that the EPA was facing attack from people like Sherrod Brown
as well as from Republicans - his story was that Obama was forcing a reluctant Congress to cave in to Republican demands and no inconvenient data needed to be provided to readers.
Meanwhile the Environmental Defense Fund asks people to call Congress
Take Action: Support Tough New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
If you live anywhere in the United States, chances are, you are being exposed to highly toxic mercury, acid gases, and heavy metals spewed from America's coal-fired power plants every year.
These life-threatening emissions have NEVER been limited by the EPA… UNTIL NOW.
So Obama's EPA under Lisa Jackson, a black woman who seems to be invisible to a certain group of white male "environmentalists" for some reason, takes aggressive action to protect the environment and Mr. Hurowitz asks for a primary challenger:
I wish Ed Markey would challenge Obama in the primaries. Passionate, courageous, and green - everything Obama isn't. (Hurowitz on Twitter today)
When the Administration proposes strong environmental regulations and Congress tries to override, you'd expect environmentalists to attack Congress and defend the Administration just as the EDF is doing and you'd expect polluters to attack the Administration and try to obscure the role of Congress to give allies some cover. Hmmm.
But this oddly reversed approach is not new for Hurowitz.
Here's Hurowitz in Grist the week before with an equally bogus argument
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday an enormous expansion in coal mining that threatens to increase U.S. climate pollution by an amount equivalent to more than half of what the United States currently emits in a year
In other words, despite his administration's rhetorical embrace of clean energy, Obama is effectively using modest wind and solar investments as cover for a broader embrace of dirty fuels. It's the same strategy BP, Chevron, and other major polluters use: tout modest environmental investments in multi-million dollar PR campaigns, while putting the real money into fossil fuel development.
In 2005 the United States mined 1.1 billion short tons of coal - about a billion tons a year.
The four leases, next to existing strip mines in the Powder River Basin, total 758 million tons and will take between 10 and 20 years to mine.
So, over 15 years this "enormous expansion" will amount to under 5% of annual production (Powder River coal is low sulfer so using it to replace Appalachian mountain removed coal reduces acid rain). Meanwhile the "modest wind and solar" investments have produced 15GW of new wind production already and record growth of solar power and the incentives to burn coal for electricity are being reduced by such things as the EPA regulations mentioned above and restrictions on mountaintop removal that the Administration has also embraced despite opposition from key Senate allies. Undoubtedly Hurowitz will be there in 2012 to tut-tut about the lack of enthusiasm for Democrats from environmentalists and young people as if his fingerprints were not all over the marketing campaign to win Joe Barton a friend in the White House by selling the Administration as the moral equivalent of BP.
It should be obvious, but just in case, one can easily oppose the expansion of coal mining in the Powder River basin without engaging in the kind of character assassination that we see above. We are not forced to choose between supporting coal mining and spewing toxic propaganda. Here's Hurowitz last year
I confess that when I initially heard of it, I thought Bill McKibben’s drive to return solar panels to the White House was essentially a waste of time: of all the things to ask the president, it seemed like the smallest, most insignificant, and easiest. It certainly wouldn’t solve the climate crisis. And it would allow President Obama to cloak himself in a symbolic green action that let him cover a rapidly worsening environmental record.
I realize now that the very simplicity of the request made the solar panels project a masterstroke that clearly exposed, more than any big policy ask ever would, President Obama’s unwillingness or inability to confront our great planetary crisis. Because even in this smallest of disappointments, Obama responded in a way that was a caricature of his failure-by-committee administration: sending mid-level officials to tell the greatest American environmental activist of our time that the president was rejecting their request out of hand in favor of a continued “deliberative process.”
Note this is not a critique of policy, it's an attack on character that fits in beautifully with such other environmentalist critiques like
In 2012, Remember That The Campaigner-In-Chief Has A Pattern Of Being Loose With Words And Short On Results
Oh wait, that's not from environmentalists, it's from the Republican National Committee
. Excuse me but sometimes it's a little hard to keep track. Because failing to install 30 year old obsolete solar panels on the WH roof is, of course, illustrative of something important- except when it's not as in this news
that Mr. Hurowitz did not find worthy of comment.
President Barack Obama will have solar panels put back on the roof of the White House to demonstrate that renewable-energy technology is practical for U.S. homeowners, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.
“The White House will lead by example,” Chu said today at a conference in Washington. A solar-water heater will be installed in addition to photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, which will be in place by the end of June, he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there.”
Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market analysis group in Washington, said the rooftop panels will underscore hostility by Obama toward fossil fuels such as coal.
Oh well, can't make everybody happy.