One of the most predictably irritating parts of the last week was hearing that environmental groups - including the Sierra Club - were lobbying for the bailout bill because it had tax credits for solar and wind power. Of course, as Greenpeace notes, the bill also contained "subsidies for oil shale, liquid coal, and unproven schemes to store carbon dioxide from coal and oil." The push for renewal energy tax credits is laudable, but the tradeoffs - increased liquid coal and a $700 billion bailout - are incredibly high. Penny-wise, pound-foolish, seems to be the motto of the Sierra Club.
|I don't think that the Sierra Club operates in bad faith, unlike Environmental Defense, which is openly corrupt, and NRDC, which should just be renamed 'wealthy starfuckers who like parks'. And the Sierra Club has a real grassroots base, one that actually has democratic control of the organization. Still, for the last few months, Sierra Club chief Carl Pope has been working with and celebrating T. Boone Pickens on a questionable plan, continually granting him the credibility of the Sierra Club with as far as I can tell no meaningful concessions whatsoever. Pickens has given money to, say, Senator Inhofe, without convincing Inhofe of the need to reduce carbon emissions. Pickens is just getting Sierra Club cred for free. Again, penny-wise, pound foolish.
Finally, the Sierra Club is sitting out in the race between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert, which Reichert campaign manager Mike Shields considers a 'win' (and it is, green issues are big in the district). The rationale is that Reichert scored an 85 out of 100 on the League of Conservation scorecard for 2007. Of course, he scored a 67 out of 100 in 2006, and a 28 out of 100 in 2005. The way the Sierra Club looks at this is that Reichert has improved. The reality is that Reichert is only voting this way because he is being threatened with electoral defeat; take away the threat, and you take away Reichert's incentive to be green. By contrast, Darcy Burner will be an environmental leader in Congress and probably get a 100 out of 100 on the scorecard, while Reichert only recently concluded that global warming is real. Once again, penny-wise, pound-foolish.
I know and like many people at the Sierra Club, and they were helpful in defeating Al Wynn (who had a really bad LCV score for his district). But the bias of Carl Pope and the Sierra CLub towards establishment oriented incremental moves, even in moments of dramatic flux, even when it means betraying your finest allies on behalf of natural opponents, means that the organization is just no longer optimized for modern politics. It's sad, because it's an excellent brand with dedicated activists.
One irony, I suppose, is that the Sierra Club got some renewable energy tax credits through in this bailout, which Reichert voted against. Talk about negotiating with yourself.