by Clifford Smith
FME Law Counsel
When someone has a good stretch of luck in Las Vegas, there sometimes comes a moment where they decide to throw caution to the wind and put all their chips on the table. This past election cycle, the radical environmentalist crowd shouted “Everything on green 14!” Typical of a manic gambler on a risky binge, instead increasing their winnings, they lost nearly everything.
Billionaire “Green” financier Tom Steyer and his NextGen Super PAC reportedly spent about $60 million dollars in the past mid-terms. Other groups, such as the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), reportedly spent another $25 million. A memo circulated by LCV reported that climate groups, including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Action Fund, were, “(P)oised to execute the last phase of our biggest and most sophisticated electoral effort ever.” This included spending a record $85 million. The real number is likely much higher: much of the spending by these and other groups that are intended to influence politics are made under the guise of “education” and are exempt from disclosure.
What did they get for it? Nothing. They spent heavily on six senate races in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and New Hampshire, losing 4 out of 6. More accurately, since the Michigan Senate races was never truly competitive, and because in the New Hampshire race the NextGen candidate abandoned the carbon tax, they went 0 for 6 in making a deep green agenda a significant political issue. This is particularly stunning considering that the green-backed candidates in Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina were heavily favored to win at the beginning of the year. North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan was favored to win all the way until election day, but she still lost to State House Speaker Thom Tillis. Tillis was brutally attacked by “greens” as protecting polluters who had contaminated drinking water in a tragic coal ash accident, in spite of the fact that he had passed several bills to address the cleanup and Hagan had supported legislation that exempted Duke Energy, the company responsible for the accident, from environmental regulations that may have prevented the spill.
In House Races, the “greens” were rejected from one end of the country to the next. In Maine’s 2nd congressional district, which borders Canada, green-endorsed State Senator Emily Cain stunningly lost to former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. In Texas’s 23rd congressional district, which borders Mexico, green-endorsed Rep. Pete Gallego lost unexpectedly to former CIA officer Will Hurd. This is just a sampling. Very few “green” endorsed candidates won competitive races. Of the candidates backed by “green” groups that were in the most competitive races, 28 lost, only seven won.
The “green” movement also did poorly in Governors races. While “green” endorsed candidate Tom Wolf beat Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, this had been expected for the entire cycle, and Corbett actually lost by less than expected. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott, considered enemy #1 by numerous green groups and NextGen Climate in particular, unexpectedly edged former Governor Charlie Crist in a close race. Enemy #2, Maine Governor Paul LePage, also easily won re-election.
While ostensibly non-partisan, these “green” organizations didn’t back a single Republican in any competitive federal race: out of 70 endorsements in the 2014 cycle, LVC backed only 2 Republicans, neither were in a competitive race. They endorsed no Republican for Governor. It is clear that they have no real interest in a moderate, non-partisan environmental policy. Only those who toe the line on their radical agenda are sufficient, others need not apply.
Perhaps their most spectacular, yet under-the-radar loss was in Washington State, a state traditionally friendly to environmental causes. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, elected in 2012, is a hardcore supporter of the radical “green” climate agenda. Yet after he was elected, even some in his own party found his agenda too radical: two moderate Democratic State Senators caucused with Republicans, throwing control of the chamber to the “Majority Coalition Caucus.” This coalition blocked Inslee’s efforts to impose onerous regulations similar to cap-and-trade, and stopped him from imposing a California-like renewable fuel standards that greatly increased the price at the pump.
Particularly after the Senate Majority Leader, moderate Democrat Rodney Tom, decided to retire, Steyer smelled blood. Steyer spent more than $2 million during the past election cycle to attempt to wrestle control of the State Senate from the Majority Coalition Caucus. This is a staggering sum for state legislative races in Washington State, where a successful candidate usually raises low six-figures in campaign cash.
While Steyer’s group did manage to win the seat left vacant by Tom, they failed to flip the chamber. Instead, maverick moderate Democrat Tim Sheldon trounced Steyer-backed liberal Democrat Irene Bowling by nearly 10 points. In another race, Steyer’s #1 target, Mark Miloscia, a former moderate Democrat who switched parties to become a Republican, easily won the seat of retiring Democratic State Senator Tracey Eide, winning by 12 points. This in spite of the fact that Miloscia, a serious Catholic, was the victim of vicious anti-Catholic propaganda that shocked even the notoriously left-wing Seattle Post-Intelligencer. There is no proof that these bigoted attacks were funded by Steyer, however, since his money was funneled through multiple political committees. All other members of the Majority Coalition Caucus that the greens targeted for defeat won anyway, most weren’t particularly close.
Most of the “green” movement knows full well they lost big. “We lost far too many races yesterday. There’s no way, or no desire, on any of our parts, to spin this, to try to throw some sunshine into a story that has some pretty disturbing elements,” said Sierra Club’s Michael Brune. They seem puzzled as to why they lost, however.
The reason should obvious to an unbiased observer. As philosopher Eric Hoffer famously said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” The modern “green” movement has degenerated into a racket, and voters smell it.
The modern “green” movement is increasingly detached from real world concerns of citizens. Generally speaking, they are no longer concerned with common-sense conservation efforts, sensible pollution controls, or reasonable resource management. Instead, they are increasingly obsessed with “fundamentally transforming” America into some population-limited utopia where disfavored industries are banished and opportunity and prosperity are sacrificed in the name of saving the world from “climate change.” This in spite of the fact that, as John Kerry recently said, “Even if every single American biked to work or carpooled to school or used only solar panels to power their homes – if we reduced our emissions to zero…That still wouldn’t be enough to counteract the carbon pollution coming from China and the rest of the world.”
The so-called “green” movement has been on a high ever since the 2008 wave ushered President Obama into office. While Obama’s victory had nothing to do with extreme environmentalism, Obama’s top appointees at the EPA wasted little time, in the words of their senior leadership, imposing “progressive national policy” on the country. Everyday Americans, who are resistant to scare mongering and highly skeptical of utopian schemes, aren’t buying this agenda.
The lesson that ought to be learned by the “green” movement going bust this cycle is that they should refocus on common sense environmentalism and conservationism that affects average Americans everyday lives instead of trying to impose discredited utopian solutions on a skeptical public. The fact that they won’t just proves what a racket the modern environmental movement has become.