Obama and Environmentalists

Bill Moyers considers whether Obama has sold out environmentalists.

Obama and Environmentalists ~ Bill Moyers Journal – July 17, 2009

Bill Moyers’ blog goes on to ask : How Should America Respond to Global Warming?

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Bill Moyers Journal
July 17, 2009



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  1. Virginia Avatar

    I wonder if Obama watches Bill Moyers Journal. He and everyone else should watch every week as Bill brings critical issues to the forefront, with truth and realism instead of the constant garbage on the teevee. But, people don’t want the truth, they can’t handle it or don’t believe it. I just hope this younger activist generation doesn’t get discouraged and they keep up the pressure on the president and especially, Congress. Addressing reduction in emissions by 2050 is laughable.

  2. jdubya Avatar

    Sobering assessment. If does not matter whether you are talking about CO2 releases or health care, our political system just does not deal well with issues that will end up costing the citizen more money, and potentially decreasing their standard of living. These are both stealth problems and can be largely ignored if you are not directly involved. All politicians have to say is the program will cost more money than predicted, and the middle class home owner will bear the brunt, and potential solutions are dead on arrival.

    It will take a real crisis such as watching Florida disappear in the ocean, or the national guard called out to limit the patronage of hospital emergency rooms to see meaningful resolution of these issues. And it will cost us a lot more the longer we wait.

  3. Jon Way Avatar

    While it has been somewhat frustrating to see some of the Obama’s Admin’s environmental decisions so far, it is far better than any current republican has to offer, at least in the presidential race. If we wanted something to change for the better for the Envir (or at a quicker rate than Obama is doing) than a diff’t Democrat like Hillary should’ve been elected in the primary. And, lets put it in perspective. He has only been in office 5-6 months. And he has done more positive for the envir. than Bush did in 8 years (hiring science folks for science positions, the new NPS director, keeping the Endangered Species Acts, looking at Bush’s logging decisions in roadless areas). His changes just isn’t as quick as many of us would like…

  4. Monty Avatar

    Yes, Moyers is a “voice of reason” who is often ridiculed by the “voices of unreason”.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Jon Way,

    I like the way the gentleman responded to the question of Obama doing more already than Bush in 8 years. He suggested that with climate change, the standard is science. Scientists say we need to reduce emissions by X before year 20XX to avoid so much impact.

    When we ask ourselves – did Obama rise to the challenge of climate change (or any other issue), should we be setting the standard of his success with that task on Bush, on those previous 8 years, or should the Obama’s standard of success be set by what scientists say needs to be done ?

    I’d say that if we let the ‘lesser-than’, if we let Bush so influence the standard by which we judge Obama’s success or failure — then we are granting Bush a sort of ‘shadow’ 3rd term. We’re letting the Bush administration weigh down the standard & dilute the product even now.

    I don’t think that’s fair nor accurate. I don’t think it helps advance an agenda that achieves the standards that the science sets.

    I also take the gentleman at his word when he says that the product coming out of these climate change summits, at which his people are attending, is no better than Bush with the exception of the occasional nuance in language.

  6. JimT Avatar

    Maybe a more nuanced view of Obama and the environment needs to be aired. There is more to the environment these days than “climate change” as a sole source subject, yet the foundations, the pundits, indeed, even some of the enviro groups ignore the context of climate change..habitat, migration, extinction, corridor linkage..WATER….There are few easy decisions that have been made…like the uranium mining about Grand Canyon, and lots of noise about alternative energy (which is by far a mixed bag given the scope of the facilities being planned and the impacts of likely transmission lines), but so far, on land and species issues, I would give this Administration no better than a C-.

    And since when does comparing everything to Bush somehow make being ignored or screwed acceptable? Obama needs to be evaluated on his administration’s actions and inactions based on their merit. just like any other President and their environmental record. It is early, as someone said, but there have been enough issues that have come up so far..wolves, ESA, mountain top mining, roadless rule….that give me pause. Like Clinton, my prediction is that Obama will be no “green” President.

  7. Virginia Avatar

    JimT – the planned mining near the Grand Canyon has been halted for two years (not permanently, however), so that is another positive move from the Obama Interior. It seems as though many of us are encouraged by something being done, even though we feel it is not enough. As everyone says, better than nothing, but is that good enough? As you say, many other issues are out there we all care passionately about, but climate change is huge and these two young activists will not give up.

  8. JB Avatar

    I too have been dismayed at some of the Obama administration’s actions. However, I think it is important to consider WHY we’ve seen such a mixed bag from Obama thus far.

    First, consider that the U.S. public does not have the collective attention span to think intelligently about lots of issues simultaneously. Right now, the issues are (1) the economy, (2) the economy, (3) the war(s) and (4) health care. The administration has been campaigning hard to bring health care to the forefront and get legislation passed, and that has left precious little time for other issues. They have also been pushing pretty hard on alternative energy, which has appeal because there is an obvious link to climate change, the war, and (of course) the economy.

    Which brings me to my second point: Most of the issues regularly discussed on this blog (i.e. public lands, wildlife) simply aren’t even on the radar for people outside of the Intermountain West (where only a small percentage of the U.S. population resides). Furthermore, these issues are pretty nuanced, and despite the–dare I say it–the consensus that is often reached here, opinions about how to deal with public lands and wildlife issues vary considerably, even among environmentalists (insert collaboration argument).

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Obama has zero–I’ll repeat–zero chance of winning the vast majority of states where these issues actually matter to people. Why spend precious time and political capitol to appease left wingers in states where he can’t even get a foothold? Easier to run with the status quo, appoint a moderate westerner to head Interior, and hope that nothing blows up in his face.

    Despite what it sounds like, I’m not defending Obama here. Rather, I’m trying to be realistic about why we’ve seen so little “change” when it comes to the issues that people here care about. To be honest, I’m not sure how to even get these issues on the administrations radar.

  9. Brian Ertz Avatar

    JB rhetorically asks,

    Why spend precious time and political capitol to appease left wingers in states where he can’t even get a foothold?

    Some look at an agenda and see political capital as a zero-sum game. These are usually self-hating, apologetic Democrats.

    Others might suggest that the pre-occupation with other issues (economy, war, health care) on an agenda is just as easily an opportunity for good appointees to advance positive change without the need to expend a whole lot of political capital – this is how Bush played his agenda, it’s how his administration understood political capital, and it was a much more effective way of executing a shift in direction. The public is preoccupied with issue A, so while Bush was walking and chewing gum with issue A and B up high on the agenda, he also had appointees gutting the Constitution (X), raping the Earth (Y), and robbing the less fortunate (Z) via the obscurity of their lesser position on the agenda.

    Self-hating Democrats look at it differently. They look at the lesser agenda items as political liabilities. Hell, they look at what we believe as political liabilities – and so they give crumbs, and the widespread alterations of Rule & Statute that Bush jammed through continue to stick – except for the few apolitical associations willing to bring judicial oversight.

    So when someone apologizes for Obama maintaining the wrong direction on public land and wildlife issues, on the economy, on the war, on health care and any number of other issues – and they say “he’s just got a lot on his plate” – I wonder, why was Bush not beholden to this same apologetic/reductionist theory about the economy of political capital ? Why was his plate so much bigger and more able to carry agenda item A-Z ? It’s because they didn’t look at agenda items brought via their diverse issues-coalition with shame, apology, and superfluous benefit-of-the-doubt to the ‘liberals’.

    And particularly, on public land and wildlife issues out West I look at the political playing field and see so many of the power-house politicians that executed the worst procedural obstructionism, that advanced the most cynical and environmentally destructive legislative agendas in the past Century – so many of the politicians that punished and taught Democrats to fear an environmental agenda are gone… Craig, Burns, etc. out of office… and their replacements out West are relatively impotent in seniority and political prowess. The opportunity to rectify the past several decades of backslide is now and the Obama Administration’s failure to seize the opportunity, instead opting for place-holders who for the most part keep the boat at default steadily on Bush’s/Reagan’s coarse, resting its political cowardice (and let’s be honest – that’s what it is) on excuses about other agenda items, is weak and ought be just as shameful as anything else.

    Obama will throw us under the bus over and over again because the the extractive associations are willing to raise hell while we keep making excuses about why being under the bus is so necessary for us.

  10. JimT Avatar

    Two years worth of “study” on the Grand Canyon leases is a relatively short period of time, and and if you read Salazar’s statement carefully, there is no strong commitment to withdrawal; there are waffle words in there. And that is what gives me concern to give Obama the “golf clap” on this one, not a full shouted roar of support.

    As for the lack of support for wildlife and land issues in other parts of the country, I am not sure it is that cut and dry. Plenty of folks seem to care alot about griz and wolves, for example. I think what is missing is pressure on the media and from the media to publicize the issues in main stream American in language that doesn’t require a PHD to decipher. But I do agree..the economy is making it tough for folks to think of anything else but their wallets, and fuel prices make them think that alternative energy will be the answer for them. I also think that today’s media and the quick skimming of issues has given the general public the attention span of a gnat, and analytical thinking, or the motivation to learn more about a subject like water, or habitat or species extinction just isn’t there on a wholesale basis….

  11. jdubya Avatar

    He does one thing wrong, he does one thing right….


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Brian Ertz