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The new last refuge of scoundrels

By Alan Caruba
web posted December 16, 2002

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," said Samuel Johnson on April 7, 1775. If the great man of British letters were alive today, he might amend that to say that, in America, "environmentalism is the new last refuge of scoundrels." I surely would.

I was reminded of Johnson's quote by two other quotes. They were by aspiring candidates for the Democrat Party's nomination to be president in 2004. The trigger was news that the Environmental Protection Agency had decided to revise the rules concerning how much "pollution" could be released by utilities upon which we depend for electricity.

Actually, what the former rules did was make it impossible to make any changes to curb "pollution" through various upgrades of the facilities. Until the revision, a utility would not be able to make incremental changes at a reasonable cost. Instead, it would have to undertake wholesale upgrades costing a huge amount of money. Naturally, the utilities opted to make only those mandated upgrades they could afford.

Since coal is burned to produce forty percent of all electricity generated for consumer use in America, the Greens have sought to make the production of energy as costly a process as possible for both the utilities and their consumers. Huge natural reserves of high-grade coal in Utah were put off limits to any use by the Clinton-Gore administration.

Sen. John Edwards Sen. John Kerry
Edwards and Kerry

But I digress. Within hours of the Dec. 22 EPA announcement, two leading Democrat contenders for the presidential nomination immediately issued statements. By 3:19PM, North Carolina's Sen. John Edwards said that Americans would suffer "more smog, more soot, and more premature deaths." By 3:21PM Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said "To safeguard the environment, we don't just need a new EPA administrator, we need a new president."

If you want to know what Al Gore thinks just read his insane screed, Earth in the Balance.We are waiting to find out if he will run again, but if you are as crazy as Gore, the odds are he is already gearing up for another run. He will run hard on the many bogus issues of environmentalism. In the midterm elections Americans correctly perceived that Democrats have no idea how to provide for the security of this nation, insuring sufficient energy resources, or the general welfare of its people.

The Democrat candidates will, for the next two years, beat the drums of environmentalism to remind everyone that George Bush and all Republicans actually want to kill everyone with "pollution." They have made these claims in the past and they will do so again, and again, and again.

The problem with that is, like everything else the Greens say, it's a lie. There is no global warming. The air in America is clean. The water you drink from the tap is clean. Americans are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

In the voluminous body of quotations and literature that has been spoken and penned by environmentalists, we are confronted by the spectacle of the chronic scold, the person for whom enough is never enough. This is particularly true of government laws and regulations to "protect" the environment.

Earth and nature are never to blame for the ills they perceive. It is always mankind. It is always industry. It is always technology, chemistry or some other branch of science. It is always innovation in agriculture, ranching, or forestry. It is always capitalism. It is always prosperity. Mostly, though, it is always freedom.

What this great, prosperous nation needs are more facilities to generate the energy we require to keep our extraordinary economy growing, to provide heat and electricity to the homes and apartments of our growing population, to be less dependent on oil from nations that hate us, and to extract the natural resources this nation possesses in abundance.

Alan Caruba writes "Warning Signs", a weekly commentary posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. In January, Merril Press will publish a collection of his columns. © Alan Caruba, 2002

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