Environmentalism: Often, It’s About Power, Not the Environment

by Hans Bader on May 27, 2008

The Washington Examiner has an interesting editorial today called “Environmentalism Isn’t About the Environment.”  It describes how environmental measures expand and metastasize government power in ways that have little to do with protecting the environment.  It points to a wetlands bill pending in Congress that would define every “prairie pothole,” ”sandflat,” or ”isolated basin” in America as a federally-regulated wetland that that cannot be developed or used without approval from federal bureaucrats under the Clean Water Act.

Very often, environmental measures backfire, harming the environment and causing tragedy, as CEI’s Iain Murray explains in detail in his best-seller, “The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You to Know About–Because They Helped Cause Them.”  

Even when environmentalists recognize rather than ignore the perverse consequences of government meddling in the name of the environment, it’s often too late to do anything about them.  Environmental groups now recognize that ethanol subsidies are causing devastating harm to the environment, and that past support for such subsidies by politicians aligned with environment groups, like Al Gore, was a huge mistake.  But those subsidies are now so-well entrenched, thanks to a legion of lobbyists, that they continue, despite mounting evidence that they are driving up food prices and thus contributing to worldwide hunger, starvation, riots, and political unrest, and rising criticism from poor countries.

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