Policy: Environment & Energy

Big Green environmental split developing between radicals for civil disobedience and voices for common sense

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Keystone XL,Energy and Environment,Civil Disobedience

A split is emerging in Big Green's ranks over whether to up the ante and go to civil disobedience in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline or to recognize a futile effort for what it is and move on to more effective venues for environmental activism.

On the one hand, as the Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow reports, an obscure coalition of radical environmentalist groups is promoting a March 2 march to bring civil disobedience to the gates of the White House in protest against Keystone XL.

The marchers will gather at Georgetown University, then march down Pennsylvania Avenue. “Along the way, we will occupy intersections with symbolic oil spills, and bring a little bit of Keystone XL home to its backers in D.C.,” the organizers promise on their website.

At the White House

“When we get to the White House we will gather again to hear from people who are on the front lines of this fight, and prepare for civil disobedience ... bringing a human oil spill to President Obama's front door,” they continue.

As this space noted yesterday, a turn to civil disobedience can be a precursor to more violent actions on the Left, as was the case in the 1960s with the SDS Weather Underground.

And "eco-terrorism" isn't exactly a new phenomenon in this country, as Examiner columnist Ron Arnold coined the term years ago when James Watt was President Reagan's secretary of the Interior.

Time to move on

But there are more than a few sane voices in the ranks of the environmental movement and they are speaking up, urging their fellow travelers to recognize "move on."

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger are, respectively, chairman and president of the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank funded by among others the Pritzker Innovation Fund and other reliably liberal foundations.

In a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday, Nordhaus and Schellenberger offer this hard-edged assessment of the environmental movement's status:

"In the end, protests won't solve what ails environmentalism. All over the world, the environmental agenda is in retreat.

"Carbon caps have had little impact on emissions. The Kyoto framework has long since been abandoned. Renewables mandates have proved costly as innovation policy and ineffectual as climate policy.

"In this sense, the turn toward Keystone and now divestment mark not the beginnings of a new climate movement but the death rattle of the old one. "

Maybe there's hope for a restoration of common sense and realism in the environmental movement after all.

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