How do conservatives block environmental reform that puts dents in big corporations’ profits? By painting the environmentalists as the bad guys. It may seem like a ridiculous strategy, but it works. Despite plenty of science to the contrary, some politicians have no problem pointing the finger at the recyclers and tree planters among us as the real destructive force. After all, if they can get enough people to keep looking at green activists as evil, that might be just enough to prevent meaningful environmental reform from taking hold in D.C.
Here are four politicos that are happy to badmouth environmentalists:
1. U.S. Representative Mike Kelly
This week, Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican, took an unfortunate but common route when he compared the Environmental Protection Agency to terrorists. “You talk about terrorism – you can do it in a lot of different ways,” he said. “But you terrorize the people who supply everything this country needs to be great and you keep them on the sidelines. My goodness, what have we become?”
Sadly, it’s a seemingly winning strategy these days to just compare anything you don’t like to terrorism. Then again, if oil, fracking, pollution and trash are indeed “everything” that makes this country great, perhaps taking measures to ensure that the country survives its own eminent destruction is an act of “terrorism.”
2. Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney has followed not only her father Dick’s political ambitions, but his skewed views on the environment, too. While running for Senate, she called climate data “phony science [designed] to kill real jobs. This is a war on coal, a war on jobs, a war on American families.” Who knew that people who cared about the future of the planet were making up facts just to attack American families?
In an interview earlier this month, Cheney also suggested that above climate change, “a much greater threat to us, frankly, is this massive expansion and growth of the bureaucratic state here in Washington – the EPA, the use of things like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act that go directly at people’s private property rights in a way that clearly, frankly, is unconstitutional and is a real threat to our freedom.” How dare environmentalists steal your freedoms… to destroy the environment.
3. Michele Bachmann
Another common trope used to attack environmentalism is calling it something that ends jobs. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann called the EPA, “The job killing organization of America.” Even though shifting to renewable energy creates new jobs, even though not addressing climate change will probably help to collapse the economy in the long term, by addressing just one facet of the debate, it makes it seem as though environmentalism isn’t “worthwhile” for the time being.
It’s a shame that Bachmann will be out of office after the next election cycle. As someone who has called to shut down the EPA altogether (“doors locked and lights turned off”), she clearly wants to blame then destroy environmentalists’ efforts.
4. Frank Luntz
Frank Luntz, a GOP strategist who worked alongside Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, isn’t a climate change denier. In fact, he believes that the problem is real. Still, when asked to offer up a solution to handle the crisis, he said he would offer up no advice.
That’s what makes his comments about environmentalists even more disheartening. “Some of the most personally nasty people come out of the environmental community,” Luntz said in an interview. “I don’t see environmentalism that way, I see environmentalists that way. I think they’ve taken a very important issue and they’ve undermined their own case for it.”
So, environmentalism is fine, but people who practice it are “nasty.” Instead, the solution is to do nothing, which is obviously productive.