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Wall Street Journal attack green agenda

It's Not So Green in the Dark
The lights go out in California. Armchair environmentalists had it coming.


Thursday, February 8, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST

Well, boo hoo hoo. That's the most sympathy I can muster for all those
Californians currently tripping over their espresso makers in the dark.
once we have some justice. Very bad decisions mean very cold hot tubs. I'm
not talking here about deregulation (though the bureaucrats sure botched
the job). I'm talking about supporting extreme environmentalism.

California is home to any number of earth-saving groups. More to the point,
it's home to an inordinate number of people who fund them. From the Napa
Valley to the Imperial, middle-class, left-leaning types have stumped up
quite a bit of booty for "good environmental causes." Californians consider
themselves some of nature's best friends.

But now these armchair environmentalists are faced with a big decision.
decade's worth of ill-advised programs are starting to cramp their cushy
lifestyles. California enacted some of the strictest environmental rules
the world and refused to build any new dam or plant. Now, with supply low
and prices high, the state is flailing. And so the armchair crowd must
decide: Will they support radical environmentalism or pragmatic

Armchair environmentalists are very much a product of our times. They're
the people who say we mustn't cut down trees or drill in the tundra, but
then drag their children through Yellowstone in a gas-guzzling SUV and
start campfires on the side of the road. They sit in their four-bedroom
houses, on nice one-acre plots at the edge of town, and fret about urban

They own energy-sucking computers and televisions, but adamantly oppose
hydroelectric dams. Once a year, perhaps twice, they sit down and write
checks to the Sierra Club or Greenpeace. And they feel very good about
themselves. There are a lot of these folks. They qualify for the "armchair"
because they actually know very little about the environment. They don't
really need to, because their mission isn't really to do right by the
planet but to ease their own guilt over the good economic times. And so
they lazily support causes that sound good: affirmative action, campaign
finance and nature.

Armchair environmentalists have done little to follow up on their
environmental investments. The groups they funded sallied forth to
Washington during the 1990s, and, finding an all-too-willing Clinton
administration, became shrill and extreme in their demands. Reasonable
suggestions for preservation gave way to backroom deals on animal research,
severe restrictions on logging, and ill-considered decisions to stop
building fire roads in millions of acres of forest land.
And hey presto, look what the armchair dwellers got. Their prized Western
vineyards are being shut down in deference to a supposedly endangered
salamander. Wealthy upstate New Yorkers have had their backyards turned
into protected wetlands. Snowmobiling, that favorite weekend treat of
hardworking executives, may be barred from national forests. Electricity
prices are soaring because no plants have been built. And with all those
blackouts, how are Californians supposed to charge up their electric cars?

Now the armchair crowd is whining: This wasn't what we meant! California
an amusing lesson of cause and effect. It takes all those worst-case
scenarios that responsible conservationists have been warning about for
years and makes them reality. It shows, step by step, what happens when
pie-in-the-sky environmental policies--initiated by environmental groups,
paid for by armchair environmentalists and pushed through by ambitious
politicians--win out over a reasoned balance between humans and nature.
California energy demands have risen 25% over the past eight years, while
the supply of new electricity has risen 6%. What makes for the difference?

Well, a coalition of environmental groups spent decades fighting the
building of the Auburn Dam, a hydroelectric facility with immense
electrical potential. The Rancho Seco nuclear reactor near Sacramento was
shuttered after environmental groups campaigned against it. Calpine Corp.
has been barred from building a plant in the Coyote Valley. Severe air
pollution regulations have kept plants from running at full capacity. The
list goes on. No major power plant has been built in California for 10
years, each one stopped because of environmental protests.

A friend recently mourned the days when environmental groups gathered
like-minded people to appreciate nature and think of ways to care for it.
There still are some: Hunting organizations across the U.S. organize
cleanup days when members go out into the forest to pick up litter. Many
private charities use their money not for lobbying but for buying pieces
land at market prices and then working hard to preserve the flora and fauna
on their plots.

But most of these grass-roots organizations have given way to radical
groups demanding heavy-handed government intervention. This is partly
because the
people who funded them didn't bother to understand what they supported.
was partly because younger idealists came to their helms. It was partly
because Eastern lawmakers, ignorant of the West and its needs and
practices, had these special interests to lunch and made them promises.

Either way, these groups no longer care about stimulating public interest
in the natural world. They have their own, fanatical views of how nature
should be managed and intend to make us live by their rules. The
eco-terrorist who has been burning down houses in Arizona because they
obstructed his mountain-biking views has been egged on by environmentalists
of all stripes.This shouldn't surprise us; it's the next logical step for
people who believe humans play second fiddle to trees.

George W. Bush has said when he leaves office he wants cleaner air and
water than when he arrived. But Mr. Bush and his interior secretary, Gale
Norton, realize the way to do this is through forward-looking ideas like
market environmentalism, an approach that holds that market incentives
individuals to conserve resources and protect the environment. By putting
market values on our resources (like water for electricity, or land for
grazing rights) we as a nation can decide how much we are willing to pay
for our conservation, how much for other activities, and then make
intelligent tradeoffs.Of course, I could be wrong. If you're a Californian
and you have ideas for how to keep enjoying your plump lifestyle without
exploiting natural resources, by all means e-mail them to me. Oops, I
forgot, you can't. You don't have any power for your computer.

Ms. Strassel is an assistant features editor of The Wall Street Journal's
editorial page. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays

ahh screw it call me Mark :D
No matter what you do or say someone will take it too seriously

8,258 Posts
Yeah!!!!! I'm gonna have to start reading the WSJ more often

Hmmm....maybe if you sharpened the Q-Tip...

6,129 Posts
Although a lot of his points were valid he sterotyped far too much. I still oppose the building of the Auburn Dam. Always have always will.

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