President Obama’s climate change legislation may have no chance of passing through Congress, and it could be the fault of environmental activists. recent research paper by Harvard Professor Theda Skocpol places the responsibility for the climate legislation’s failure to pass on climate change activists. Skocpol argues that environmental groups in Washington ignored the extremely polarized Republican opposition to the legislation.
The primary misstep of the environmental lobby, the report argues, is the consistent argument of climate change as the motivator for environmental regulations. Skocpol explains…
“political consultants and public relations wordsmiths urged environmentalists to redouble euphemistic locutions already deployed during the cap and trade battle – to talk about “green jobs,” “threats to public health,” and the need to “reduce dependence on foreign oil to bolster national defense,” anything but the threat of global warming and catastrophic climate upheavals.”
Reducing carbon emissions is certainly an admirable goal for environmentalists and the Obama Administration alike, but what Skocpol’s paper teaches us is that it cannot be done at the expense of citizens and businesses. Even President Obama relaxed his climate change aspirations at times, such as when he signed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011 that exempted US airlines from a European law restricting carbon emissions. Obama has not turned out to be the climate change warrior that so many environmentalists had hoped for, but perhaps the problem is that the environmental lobby is overly optimistic.
In an interview with the UK’s Guardian, Skocpol calls on environmentalists to be “realistic” about the progress toward mitigating climate change. The fact is, many regulations that the environmental lobby would like to see implemented will place a financial burden on average Americans in the form of higher fuel prices or heating bills due to alternative energy costs.
Conservatives and Democrats alike agree that the shift to renewable energy must happen eventually. After all, our fossil fuel supply cannot last indefinitely. But, the change to a clean energy economy cannot happen until it is beneficial across the board for every American. The concern of climate change alone will not drive a diversified Congress to pass radical legislation, and the environmentalists in Washington need to accept, and learn from this failure.