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In the distant green past--roughly 1971 to 1987, the primordial green soup of US environmental politics--it was common for election candidates to claim environmental credentials as a way to attract undecided and college age voters. (Keep in mind that the Greenocene Era predates access to the League of Conservation Voters rating system.) So it was easy then to make unchallenged green voting claims. Hmmm. Maybe no one will notice? was a common approach. But with today's astroturfing practices (who does investigative journalism any more?) and huge campaign advertising budgets, it's predictable that we're seeing a resurgence of the old-style political greenwashing. An article in The Colorado Independent, "Western Skies or more brown cloud?" recently linked a "mystery group" to oil money and the greenwashing of the Colorado senate races:
A conservative Colorado political group allegedly backed by big-oil money and calling itself the Western Skies Coalition has targeted key state Senate races, apparently bent on portraying pro-oil Republicans vying for those seats as champions of alternative energy...The most recent two-week ad buy, at a reported $143,000, depicts [Shawn] Mitchell as a big fan of solar, wind and biofuels, and claims he supports the "wise use" of natural gas and clean-coal energy. In fact, over the past 10 years, Mitchell has repeatedly opposed renewable energy standards in Colorado.
Look past the particular details and the candidate to get at a higher level point: As all things green and energy-related become increasingly important in this election, there's going to be a wave of political greenwashing.
For example, as heating oil contracts approach US$4/gallon, as they already are in some areas of the US, election candidates will be telling us much more about what they have done for energy policy that is also good for the environment. (That's a hard one to swallow, in general, given that the renewable energy tax credits are still in limbo and the difficulty of legislatively steering a hurricane away from centralized oil infrastructure.)
Resources For Challenging Political Greenwash
Here's the LCV link for Colorado's Federal Congressional delegation.
See the searchable Colorado Conservation Voters page here, for voting records of State legislators.
Many states have similar online resources for voting record acess -- just in case.
Would'a, Could'a, Should'as from the TreeHugger Archive
Why Won't Congress Just Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credits for 10
Renewable Energy Incentives Stalled in Senate
Jay Inslee Wants Plug-In Hybrid Tax Credits in the U.S.
Solar Energy Incentives Signed Into Law in San Fran, Still Stalled .