Liberals and Climate Change: Not Yet a Happy Marriage

Brightsource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Project, a solar thermal electric generating facility in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County.Jim West/ZUMA

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San Bernardino County is really big and really sunny. It’s a great place for solar energy farms. But not everyone is thrilled about that:

The county’s Board of Supervisors is slated to vote Thursday on a policy that would prohibit large renewable energy projects on much of the unincorporated private land governed by the county….Renewable energy has been a source of tension in California’s deserts for years, with nearly all large solar and wind projects facing opposition from unhappy local landowners, environmental groups or both.

Hmmm. Environmental groups. Then there’s this:

After signing onto the Green New Deal as an original sponsor, one House Democrat…said he faced harsh criticism from building trade representatives who worried the plan would put their members out of work….Unions, a key constituency, have been less than enthused by — and in some cases, downright hostile to — the ambitious proposal to tackle climate change. Terry O’Sullivan, the general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, or LIUNA, denounced the Green New Deal the day it was introduced.

Hmmm. Unions. Here’s a “fact check” on Sen. Sherrod Brown’s website:

In 2011, in order to protect Ohio manufacturers and consumers, Sherrod sided with the coal industry over President Obama on regulations for new and upgraded coal power plants and factories…. Sherrod voted against the Cap and Trade bill…. Sherrod teamed up with the business community, including the National Association of Manufacturers, to protect Ohio manufacturers in the climate change debate.

Hmmm. Sherrod Brown, the liberal’s liberal! But how about our neighbor to the north? The Trans Mountain pipeline is designed to carry oil from tar sands field in Alberta to a port in British Columbia:

Patricia Mohr, an economist and commodity market specialist, puts the case for Trans Mountain this way: “Oil pays the bills in Canada, oil pays the rent”….Trans Mountain has its defenders, not least Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says Canadians don’t have to choose between a clean environment and resource development.

Hmmm. Justin Trudeau. Such a progressive guy, but he still wants to export all the oil Canada can get its hands on. And remember when the Kennedy family opposed wind power off of Cape Cod, where they happen to live? In that case, every environmentalist who didn’t live near Cape Cod supported the project. It finally died a couple of years ago.

You will note that I have not yet uttered the word “Republican.” There is no question that Republican denial of climate change is odious and obscene. If Republicans were all to disappear tomorrow, it would certainly become a whole lot easier to address climate change.

But it would be no slam dunk. Progressive or not, nearly everyone with an axe to grind ends up opposing climate change policies that happen to injure them personally. Until that changes, Republicans are the least of our problems.

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GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

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