Republicans An Endangered Species? Not For Long, Once They 'Get Back To Business' On Environment
"Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed." - President Nixon, upon signing the Endangered Species Act. Via: NOAA Image credit:Nixon Library Foundation
A primary election is about to be held where I live. Doors have fliers wedged against jambs; and, quite notably in this mostly-Republican county, candidates are profiling themselves with phrases like 'independent minded." Though they certainly haven't disappeared, Republicans hereabout, and nationally, seem less smiling and certainly less "thumbs up" than Nixon was when he signed the US Endangered Species Act.
In TreeHugger-speak, Republicans are unhappily parked on the "threatened' list for a bit, awaiting the right moment to be fully de-listed like the Gray Wolf.When the right moment comes, Republican leaders will, as done many times prior, draw upon their historic affinity with businesses to re-establish credence on environmental issues. I'm talking about a constructive, hands-on kind of effort that seriously comes to grip with climate issues. Re-establishing that affinity constructively is a predetermined outcome, as I partly explained in an earlier post:
...The industrial sector, consuming an estimated 21.4 quads of energy in 2007, uses energy to heat, cool, and light process equipment, warm buildings, run fork lifts, and so on. Strikingly, by these estimates, twice as much energy was consumed by industry in 2007 as all residential and commercial entities combined, in that same period. Until now, industry has been the relatively silent player at the Washington DC climate game.
Image credit:US Dept of Energy; Energy In BriefFor the rest of the explanation - US Congressional politics are key...Climate change will reforge the Republican/environment bond: in Washington DC.Congress only needs a "trigger event" to break loose from the gridlock over climate action. As has always been the case in the history of environmental legislation, at a quintessential moment, driven by a seminal incident, Republicans and Democrats will want to be seen working constructively with environmentally proactive industries, of which there are many.
Via; Duke University, Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Legislative Gridlock And The Need For A "Trigger" Event:-
The immediate impetus for enactment of most of the major federal environmental laws was some significant set of events that attracted national media attention and thrust a particular issue into the political forefront.62 The Clean Air Act was enacted in the midst of an extraordinary political frenzy in support of the environment after the first Earth Day.63 A trigger for enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1972 was a series of lawsuits that revived the long-dormant qui tam provisions of the 1899 Refuse Act, leaving industrial polluters vulnerable to liability in the absence of a national program granting permits for discharges to surface waters.64 The public panic that followed the discovery of toxic contamination in a residential neighborhood called Love Canal was a powerful catalyst for the enactment of the Superfund legislation.65 The tragic chemical leak that killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India in December 1984 triggered enactment of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which requires companies to disclose to the public [*pg 21] annually the volumes of their releases of toxic chemicals.66 In similar fashion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill broke years of legislative gridlock and produced the enactment of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.67The suddenness with which businesses will publicly work with Republican and Democratic officials over climate issues will seem astonishing. It shouldn't. Transnational businesses are primed and ready for climate action, fitness-selected for sustainability by the long steady march of 'industrial Darwinism.' (Europe has its Cap & Trade; as do several US States, for example.)
Who exactly are the environmentally proactive businesses that Republicans will align with on climate action?TreeHugger has long been publishing guest posts from World Business Council For Sustainable Development and the Business Roundtable? Click on the links and scan the respective membership rosters. Then, take some time to read a few of the guest posts listed below.
What is a 'trigger event?'Broadening recognition of scientific consensus, unfortunately, does not constitute a trigger event. The trigger has to have emotional punch and make a convincing point about personal risk: like a Swine Flu outbreak, for example.
Let's hope that the coming climate signal event will be more symbolic than tragic.
Can I make a suggestion?
When it happens, let's welcome them back. Hold them accountable, demand equal voice with Congress, and whatever else you need to do. But, welcome them back.
Update:Time Magazine takes a very negative stance on Republican prospects in Republicans in Distress: Is the Party Over?. They forgot about the 'Fierce Green Fire.'
Sample business trade organization guest posts on TreeHugger.What do we Need to Tackle Climate Change? What Have we got ...What Will Business Get From Poznan?Climate Resolve At The Business RoundtableA Seat at the Roundtable: Green Insights From Members of Business ...We Can Solve America's Sustainability Challenges Together ...