Friday, March 17, 2006

Some good and bad news on the environment.

First the bad news. Bush nominated Dirk Kempthorne to replace exiting Gale Norton. Dirk earned a lifetime League of Conservation Voters score of 1 percent. That's really all you need to know. Our federal lands will remain in hostile hands.

The good news: "A federal appeals court blocked the Bush administration's four-year effort to loosen emission rules for aging coal-fired power plants, unanimously ruling yesterday that the changes violated the Clean Air Act and that only Congress could authorize such revisions."

Score a win for the growing federalism to combat BushCo's trashing of environmental laws and regulations. NY AG Spitzer led the legal fight, stating it was "a major victory for clean air and public health" and a "rejection of a flawed policy."

So Bush continues to side with anti-environmental cronies, and yet the courts may soon help to stem the damage done with future rulings such as this one. The big question remains, what will it take for Democrats to embrace the environment as a key electoral issue?

A recent Pew poll featured this exhibit:

Notice the trend. Energy and the environment have increasingly become a "Top Priority" to Americans. Contrast with Bush's poll numbers which have trended in the opposite direction, shrinking each year to the current 33%-37% level. With BushCo's numbers heading south and yet concern for the environment heading north, what is it the Dems don't get?

In addition, it's interesting to see energy and the environment grouped together. For one, the Dems could easily co-opt the environment as an issue that only they could be identified with given 99% of Republicans have a horrible record on the topic. But also the Dems could snatch the energy issue from Bush, particularly since BushCo has done nothing regarding the "addiction" BS he trotted out in the SOTU speech. By the time November elections come rolling around there's a very good chance we'll again see above-$3 gas at the pump and if the Dems can aggressively play up the energy issue and offer serious alternatives, it will resonate at just the right time.

In fact, Pew Research cites that the two issues go together like hand-in-glove:
The outgrowth of this concern about both energy and the environment is that the public expresses almost universal support for solutions that address both problems at the same time. Fully 86% favor the government requiring better fuel efficiency standards for cars, trucks and SUVs, and 82% favor increased federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen energy.
80+% numbers?! These are higher than the 70% poll numbers that had politicians falling over themselves to block the Dubai ports deal.

This should be an absolute no-brainer for the Dems -- but that's why I'm concerned....

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