And the Sierra Club Backs the Bailout and Sits Out on Reichert Race

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 18:25


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.  
Matt Stoller :: And the Sierra Club Backs the Bailout and Sits Out on Reichert Race
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.


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Sierra Club. (0.00 / 0)
   I will not forgive them for endorsing Bush drone Mike Fitzpatrick over Patrick Murphy in 2006.  But that race does show you how effective the Sierra Club is anyway...

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

Pro-incumbent bias (4.00 / 2)
It's not just the Sierra club.  Most labor unions and other advocacy groups also have guidelines which say to support the incumbent unless the challenger is MUCH better.

I hate the pro-incumbency bias, and it's a self-fulfililng policy:  support incumbents because they're more likely to win because everyone supports them etc.  I only trust outside endorments if they're for the challenger or for open seats.

Supporting the bailout is another matter entirely, and frankly is pretty distressing.  


that is disappointing (0.00 / 0)
I hadn't realized that the Sierra Club came out for the bailout.  

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

some groups (0.00 / 0)
like the ACLU manage to maintain strict and sensible rules for themselves on what things they touch and what things they don't; they provide a great deal of voter education and serve as a big -- and vital -- repository of information for more "partisan" bloggers and editorialists.

Why can't the Sierra Club take a leaf from that book? In the end, they don't need to endorse anybody in any particular race; they can provide all the information to voters they need to make an informed decision.

The idea that the S.C. is going to make a decision for the voters in the Burner race is in the end rather patronizing ("oh, you might like Burner... but we don't think you can trust her..." is the essential message there.) In some cases it seems like endorsements serve more as a "joint branding opportunity" -- "buy a Lexus, get a free iPod!"

In the end, it's groups like the ACLU [*] who have stayed absolutely relevant to the political landscape in the last eight years. It's now clear to all that we face an environmental crisis just as we faced (and are still facing) a civil liberties crisis.

Who will turn out to be the ACLU for the Greens?

[*] and, interestingly, some of the professional groups like the ALA (American Library Association).


Sierra club right in WV (0.00 / 0)
The Sierra Club just endorsed Mountain Party (Green Party Affiliate) candidate Jesse Johnson for Governor as the only candidate who opposes mountain top removal and other environmental disasters being perpetrated on the citizens and workers of West Virginia.

"We are very pleased to announce today that the Sierra Club WV Chapter endorses Jesse Johnson for West Virginia Governor," said Political Chair Regina Hendrix. "As the only gubernatorial candidate working for a statewide ban on mountaintop removal, we believe his candidacy will give West Virginians a chance to vote for a governor who is dedicated to helping West Virginia's workers by promoting renewable energy and keeping our state clean."

http://www.greenpartywatch.org...


They're Idiots (0.00 / 0)
No other way to describe the Sierra Club.

On The Road To 2008: Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

One definition of an idiot: (0.00 / 0)
someone who can imagine only one way to describe anything.

Several excellent partial descriptions of the SC were already posted above, notably Matt's:

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.


the Sierra Club has a real grassroots base, one that actually has democratic control of the organization.

SC is the most effective enviro org because it has the most active membership, but has been on the defensive for a generation, since the 1980 election.  That experience ingrained some habits, eg cultivating "moderate" GOP incumbents, which are counterproductive under changed conditions.  

Calling them out as Matt has done is helpful. Come January 2009, the real work of cleaning up the superfund site that is the US political economy will begin. The Left has enough powerful enemies, we don't need to excommunicate allies for human errors of judgement.

 

There is no such thing as a free market.


[ Parent ]
Ok, they're idiots and fools (4.00 / 1)
That makes two ways of describing them.

On The Road To 2008: Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

[ Parent ]
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