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Monday, October 3, 2022

Why Republicans are against the environment

In 1990, Congress passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act of 1970, taking action against acid rain, urban smog, and ozone, among other things.

The legislation has been very successful, significantly reducing pollution at a much lower cost than business groups predicted.

Sometimes I see people trying to use acid rain as an example of environmental bullying:

Well, in the 1980s it was very important, but now almost no one talks about it.

But the reason we don’t talk about it is because politics resolved largely a problem.

However, what is truly striking from today’s perspective is the fact that the 1990 law was passed by Congress with an overwhelming majority. bipartisan majority.

Among those who voted in favor was a first-term senator from Kentucky. Mitch McConnell.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, speaks after a Republican political dinner on Capitol Hill in Washington. Associated Press Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file.

What happened then.

It is now:

The Inflation Reduction Act, which despite its name is primarily a climate bill with additional health care reform assistance, failed to win a single Republican vote.

Now the IRA is not a leftist plan to bring Big Government into everyone’s lives:

it doesn’t make Americans go green; relies on subsidies to promote low-emission technologies, which is likely to create many new jobs.

So why is the Republican opposition from scorched earth?

The immediate answer is that the Republican Party strongly anti-ambient with time.

But why?

Pew Research Center polls show a growing split over environmental policy.

In the 1990s, self-proclaimed Republicans and Democrats did not differ much in their environmental views:

Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say we should do our best to protect the environment, more likely to say that environmental regulation hurts the economy, but the gaps were relatively small.

Since then, however, these gaps have turned into abysses, and not symmetrically:

Democrats have become somewhat more supportive of environmental actions, while Republicans have become much less supportive.

Most of the discrepancies occurred as recently as 2008 or so.

I can’t help but point out that the Republican conviction that environmental protection hurts the economy skyrocketed precisely at a time when revolutionary technological advances in renewable energy have made cutting emissions cheaper than ever. before.

Republican voters can follow the lead of politicians and media figures.

So why have conservative opinion leaders become anti-environmental?

This is not about believing in the free market and resisting government intervention.

One of the most striking aspects of the recent energy controversy is the extent to which Republicans have attempted to use the power of the state to promote polluting energy sourceseven when the private sector prefers alternatives.

The Trump administration has unsuccessfully tried to force energy companies to continue burning coal even when other energy sources were cheaper.

At present, it is reported New York TimesMany Republican state treasurers are trying to penalize banks and other businesses seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

How about the cynical notion that the Republican Party is simply in the pocket of fossil fuel interests?

Obviously, money is everything, and contributions from coal and, to a lesser extent, from oil and gas go first to the Republicans.

But the Inflation Reduction Act, which will open up many business opportunities, has been supported by several large corporations, including energy companies such as BP and Shell.

The Republicans were adamant.

I would argue that what has happened is that environmental politics has become embroiled in a culture war, which in turn is largely driven by issues of race and ethnicity.

I suspect this is why the environmental partisan split widened so much after the United States elected its first black president.

A particularly noteworthy aspect of the Times investigation report into punishing state corporate treasurers seeking to limit greenhouse gas emissions is how these officials denounce such corporations as “awake”.

Waking up usually means talking about racial and social justice.

The right, increasingly defined by attempts to limit the rights of non-Christian white heterosexual Americans, has become offensive term.

Teaching students the role of racism in American history is wrong because it is educational.

But apparently the same can be said for many other things, such as Cracker Barrel offering lean sausages and concerns about climate change.

It may not make much sense from an intellectual standpoint, but you can see how it works on an emotional level.

Who tends to care about the environment?

Often people who also care about social justice, or whatever, or global elites.

(Climate science is a global enterprise.)

Even Republicans who need to know more won’t back down from the party’s anti-science stance.

As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney it had decent environmental performance; however, he joined Eve and another Republican member of Congress in voting against the IRA. (Law to reduce inflation)

This means that those people who hope for a bipartisan climate effort are probably deluding themselves.

Environmental protection is now part of the war of cultures, and neither political details nor rational arguments matter.

c.2022 The New York Times Company

see also

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