What Democrats’ green agenda really means

Drew Johnson

Democrats in Congress have lost all sense of irony on the issue of climate science. They recently issued a House resolution slamming fossil fuel companies and other groups for “cast(ing) doubt on science in order to protect their financial interests.”

The very same Democrats backing the bill have spent their careers distorting climate science to please their environmental donors. If these lawmakers are worried about the influence of money on the climate debate, they ought to get out of the environmental lobby’s pocket.

The House resolution is an attempt to bolster these investigations — and to publicly shame Democrats’ ideological opponents. Indeed, the same day the bill was introduced, 19 Democratic Senators gathered to criticize nearly three-dozen “Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry-funded groups” for failing to hold the “correct” opinion about climate science.

But while these Democrats believe it’s a public service to scrutinize the ledgers of free-market think tanks, they never thought to mention their own financial interest in the climate debate.

Case in point: the resolution’s co-sponsor, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, owes his spot in Congress to donations from environmental activists. Over the past five years, the League of Conservation Voters and the Oceans Champions Association have served as some of his top donors. In this election cycle alone, environmentalists have contributed nearly $160,000 to Whitehouse.

Is it mere coincidence that, after taking money, Whitehouse has led the fight to treat the green movement’s opponents as criminals? Last year, in fact, he called for the Justice Department to prosecute energy companies for supposedly spreading lies about climate change.

Of course, lawmakers like Whitehouse like to portray their environmentalist donors as impartial defenders of science. Never mind that these green activists have a long history of spreading false information for their own financial benefit.

The clearest example of this is the years-long effort to ignore the basic facts about climate change in favor of unsubstantiated doomsday predictions. In reality, a considerable body of data shows that global warming has effectively stopped since 1997, despite a consistent increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This surprising development contradicts years of overheated rhetoric that environmentalists used to drum up donations and influence policy.

In 1989, for example, U.N. Climate expert Noel Brown said that rising sea levels could completely subsume entire nations by 2000 if global warming did not change course. Brown’s silly prophesy, of course, has proven laughably inaccurate. In 2009, meanwhile, the leader of Canada’s Green Party, Elizabeth May, warned that, “We have hours to act to avert a slow-motion tsunami that could destroy civilization as we know it.”

The real question is why there’s been no investigation into the green movement’s systematic efforts to mislead the public.

Perhaps the biggest irony about Democrats’ crusade against the energy industry is that their political enemies — fossil fuel companies — have proven essential to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A revolution in fracking technologies has enabled these firms to unlock an abundance of clean-burning natural gas. As a result, U.S. carbon emissions have dropped to their lowest level in over two decades.

Even the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the “rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies...is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”

Sadly, the Democrats have accepted too much money from environmentalist activists to admit the truth about the improving state of the environment as a result of increased natural gas use. And so, it’s hardly surprising that these leaders are trying so hard to silence the energy industry on the issue of climate.

In ignoring the truth about our environment, however, green-funded lawmakers are guilty of precisely the kind of greed and dishonesty they’re admonishing.

Drew Johnson is a senior scholar at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.