Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is it mainstream to be green?

I was a bit surprised by the prevalence of environmental material that I have received in the last 24 hours. Some of it came from the internet, where Sen. Boxer's newsletter to her public was headlined "Improving Fuel Economy to Reduce Greenhouse Gases". It is what you would expect from the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

But, I also live in the small "edge city" of Morgan Hill. We have a local newpaper (Morgan Hill Times) that published only twice a week: Tuesday and Friday. This week, it had the following environmental stories:
  • a guest column by the Environmental Programs Administrator, City of Morgan Hill.
  • editorial regarding the cleanup of a spill into Uvas Creek.
  • announcement that the local Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for it 2nd annual Sustainable Quality Award.
  • a story on the fact that the City of San Jose will address climate change in its draft EIR for a major expansion into Coyote Valley.
I mention all of this because, if we are beginning to let our guard down, to focus on other issues just now, we are creating an opening for those who would distort environmental concerns for their own advantage. As it becomes politically necessary for a candidate to establish their "green" credentials, these distortions become easy to enact into policy. For example:
  • two presidential candidates, McCain and Obama, make an issue of alternative fuels, meaning ethanol from corn. Ethanol from corn is neither cost effective nor is it moving us toward a long term solution to our oil dependencies.
  • California's central valley congressional delegation is lining up behind a "deal" to transfer responsibility for the operation of a major irrigation project from the Bureau of Reclamation to the Westlands Water District. (other links to this story: Fresno Bee, LA Times, Sacramento Bee, Contra Costa Times. ) I know the work of a number of the authors of these stories (Martin, Doyle, Whitney, Taugher) and they are good journalists with an environmental conscience.
  • Westlands Irrigation District has a history of exploiting resources and avoiding responsibility. Their current plans for circumventing regulation include the purchase of a private fishing club on Shasta Lake to clear the way for raising the level of Shasta and providing more water for irrigation.
Getting to real solutions to problems such as I just outlined require us to continue to pay attention to what is happening to our environment and to not allow organizations like Westlands to corrupt the process through their ability to control the election of candidates to Congress, or even to elect a president. These battles are have not been won and turning away will only mean that we allow the likes of Westlands or Archer-Daniels-Midland to control the political process.


Roger, Gone Green said...

Yes, the fashion for green (small "g") credentials is growing; this is a good thing, especially as people become more aware of the sort of false credential greenwashing you mention. Thoughtful Greens probably have the inside track on this . . .

Emily Cragg said...

please send me updates. I called you