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[GreenYes] ANWR & Recycling: Peas and Red Meat for the Right
Many of us are outraged by the U.S. Senate's voting down
assistance for renewable energy yesterday, and modest automobile
fuel economy standards the day before -- just as we are outraged
at John Tierney & Co. trashing recycling.  An op-ed in this 
morning's New York Times has some good insights on the 
Senate votes:  they are not about the environment and special
interests; they're about symbolism -- "red meat for the right" and
labor union leadership.  These are not rational debates!
/Bill Sheehan

ANWR and Peas - By Paul Krugman


The real reason conservatives want to drill in ANWR is 
the same reason theywant to keep snowmobiles roaring 
through Yellowstone: sheer symbolism.  Forcing rangers 
to wear respirators won't make much difference to
snowmobile sales - but it makes the tree-huggers furious,
and that's what's appealing about it. The same is true about
Arctic drilling; as one very moderate environmentalist told
me, the reason the Bush administration pursues high-profile
anti-environmental policies is not that they please special
interests but that they are "red meat for the right." (The real
special-interest payoffs come via less showy policies, like
the way the administration is undermining enforcement of
the Clean Air Act.)

And what about the Teamsters union, which threw its
support behind the Bush plan? It claimed to be motivated
by the 700,000 jobs ANWR drilling would supposedly
create. One suspects that the union's leadership knows that
this figure is at least 10 times too high. But the union's
members don't know that; so by making common cause
with the anti- environmental right the leaders can seem to
be bringing home the bacon.

The surprise, though, is that this dishonest anti-
conservationism got crucial support from the United Auto
Workers. There's no good reason to think that higher
efficiency standards would actually cost any automobile
worker jobs; certainly fighting a modest mileage increase
phased over 15 years shouldn't be a priority for the union's
members. But as with the Teamsters and ANWR drilling,
fighting conservation gave the union's leadership an
opportunity to look powerful; the appearance, not the
reality, was what mattered.

You may find it hard to believe that such crucial decisions
are driven by such petty concerns, that an alliance between
showboating union leaders and "drive 100 and freeze a
Yankee" conservatives could do so much damage to our
nation's future. But if that's what you think, you do not
know with how little wisdom the world is governed.

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