FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It’s Not Easy Pretending to be Green

 

Despite John Kerry’s cozy relationship with big green organizations like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, the Senator should not be mistaken as a friend of the environment.

For example, Kerry, who voted against the Kyoto Protocol, told Grist Magazine in an interview last year: “[The Kyoto agreement] doesn’t ask enough of developing nations, the nations that are going to be producing much greater emissions and which we need to get on the right course now through technology transfer.” Perhaps someone should clue Senator Kerry into the awful truth-that although the US accounts for only 4% of the world’s population, we still emit over a quarter of the globe’s CO2. Shouldn’t we, then, be setting an example?

In 2003, Kerry decided not to cast a vote against a portion of Bush’s chainsaw-happy Forest Plan (HR 1904), which authorized $760 million to thin-out dense national forests under the pretext of increasing ecosystem health. The version of Bush’s plan that passed the House and Senate was actually rewritten by two veteran Democratic Senators-Diane Feinstein of California and Ron Wyden of Oregon, who just happens to be the top timber industry cash recipient eight years running. Kerry, however, has promised he will treat our environment much like Clinton did during those glorious 1990s. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a whole hell of a lot.

As the 1996 response of Ralph Nader supporters responded to Clinton’s first term, the Clinton/Gore administration was hardly the beacon of environmental action it claimed to be: First there was the WTI hazardous waste incinerator located outside East Liverpool, Ohio, which Al Gore had repeatedly promised to shut down. Within weeks of taking office, operating permits were issued. This was followed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s destructive deal with the sugar barons of South Florida, which doomed vast acreages of the Everglades. Then the administration capitulated to the demands of Western Democrats and yanked from its initial budget proposals a call to reform grazing, mining, and timber practices on federal lands. When Clinton convened a timber summit in Portland, Oregon, in April 1994, the conference was, as expected, dominated by logging interests. Predictably, the summit gave way to plan to restart clear-cutting in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest for the first time in three years, giving the timber industry its wish.

In July 1995, the administration dealt its heaviest blow to the U.S. environment by signing the so-called Salvage Logging Rider, known to radical enviros as the “Logging without Laws Rider.” This gruesome bill suspended the application of all environmental laws governing federal forests. And on the eve of the 1996 Democratic convention, President Clinton gave the food and chemical industries a victory they had sought for over long 40 years when he signed a bill striking down the Delaney clause, a law that prohibited the addition of carcinogens to processed foods, the result of which could cause cancer in millions of people in the decades to come. But Kerry still wants to resurrect Clinton.

This — combined with Kerry’s support for Fast Track legislation, NAFTA, WTO, bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, along with his refusal to oppose hilltop strip mining (mountain top removal), his intervention with National Marine Fisheries Service when they attempted to restrict Cob fishing off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and chemical fumigation in Colombia to counter coca and opium production — provides us with a clear indication that not only is Kerry not an environmentalist, he’s also not that good at pretending to be. Reverting back to the Clinton era, as Kerry promises to do, provides no remedies for the enviro problems that ail us.

Well, at least Kerry isn’t marinated in crude oil like Bush, you say? Not so fast there. Kerry recently told Teamster’s president Jimmy Hoffa that while he opposes drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, he has no qualms with drilling “everywhere else like never before.” Where is this “everywhere?” How about the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, the red rocks in Utah, the Rocky Mountain flats, the coasts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, just to name a few? Kerry, it seems, has no alternative energy plan whatsoever; he simply wants to drill for more oil. Call Bush Kerry’s mentor.

More recently Senator Kerry took an afternoon off the campaign trail to spend it with the American Gas Association. At the gathering, Kerry pledged his support for a Trans-Alaska-Canada Natural Gas Pipeline. This devastating conduit would cut across some of the most pristine wilderness and taiga in the world, and by far the most untouched landscape in North America. While the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is a modest creation next to Kerry’s grand vision, the Senator still receives fabulous ratings from the big environmental groups.

This is not to say that Bush hasn’t devastated the environment. But the belief that John Kerry is an environmental crusader is a pure fabrication, put forth by Beltway Greens to convince voters that Kerry and Bush stand in stark contrast to one another when it comes to cleaning up and protecting our environment. Instead, they should be telling voters and environmentalists that our struggles for environmental justices must continue — regardless of who wins November’s electoral contest.

JOSHUA FRANK, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.

 

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science – Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail