2016's Biggest Loser — Big Green

COMMENTARY Environment

2016's Biggest Loser — Big Green

Dec 31st, 2016 4 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Stephen Moore

Distinguished Visiting Fellow

Stephen Moore is the Distinguished Visiting Fellow for Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation.
The Sierra Club actually declared "victory" last year when it helped push several of America's leading coal production companies into bankruptcy. iStock

Key Takeaways

The surprise of this election is that Democrats were surprised by the mass voter rejection of the radical climate-change agenda.

There are an estimated 10 million Americans who are directly or indirectly employed by the oil and gas and coal industries.

Every poll for the last five years, at least, has shown that climate change barely registers as a leading concern of American voters.

The day after the presidential election the executive director of the Sierra Club glumly called the Donald Trump victory "deeply disturbing for the nation and the planet." Well, yes, if you're a climate change alarmist who hates fossil fuels, you're in for a bad four and maybe eight years.

Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard was even more apocalyptic, saying: "I never thought I'd have to write this. The election of Donald Trump as President has been devastating. … There's no question, Donald Trump's climate denial is staggering. He wants to shut down the EPA, cancel the Paris Cimate Agreement, stop funding clean energy research and drill baby drill." Ah, but if this is so crazy, why did he win?

The short answer is that Americans went to the polls and rejected environmental extremism among other things. The biggest loser on election night was the Big Green movement in America dedicated to the anti-prosperity proposition that to save the planet from extinction we have to deindustrialize the U.S. and throw millions and millions of ‎our fellow citizens out of their jobs. Voters turned thumbs down on the climate change lobby and rightfully so.

It may seem an exaggeration to say that the radical leftist green groups want to throw working class Americans out of their jobs — but it isn't. They openly admit it.

The Sierra Club actually declared "victory" last year when it helped push several of America's leading coal production companies into bankruptcy.

Sierra Club spokeswoman Lena Moffitt took credit for destroying coal production in America, but she neglected to mention the tens of thousands of miners, truckers, construction workers and other blue collar workers who lost their jobs due to the Sierra Club campaign. What humanitarians these people are!

Ms. Moffitt promised that the Sierra Club will "bring the same expertise that we brought to taking down the coal industry and coal-fired power in this country to taking on gas in the same way. … to ensure that we're moving to a 100% clean energy future."

Wait a minute. There are an estimated 10 million Americans who are directly or indirectly employed by the oil and gas and coal industries. The left wants to put every one of these people out of a job? Will they use Stalinistic worker relocation programs to pull this off?

And by the way, someone might want to inform these self-proclaimed scientific geniuses that natural gas is clean energy.

‎Fortunately, we learned on Election Day that voters aren't as alarmed as the alarmists are. Almost none of the voters that I met in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana or Michigan had anything but contempt for the climate change fanatics. They view this as another attempt by Washington to run their lives and completely ignore their economic plight in favor of grandiose dreams of the government somehow changing the weather.

In so many ways climate change was one of the primary issues that allowed Donald Trump to crash through the blue wall of the industrial Midwest. The Democrats' preposterous opposition to building the Keystone XL pipeline, which could create as many as 10,000 high-paying construction, welding, pipe fitting and electrician jobs, is emblematic of how the party that is supposed to represent union workers turned their backs on their own members and their families.

The Paris climate-change treaty puts America last and forces us to stop using cheap, reliable and abundant domestic fossil fuels while the rest of the world — particularly China and India — are all-in on coal. Nobody in Washington seemed to notice that, as the Wall Street Journal reported last month, "China's government said it would raise coal power capacity by as much as 20% by 2020, ensuring a continuing strong role for the commodity in the country's energy sector."

That's more than the entire energy usage of Canada in a year. Um, does this sound like a country that has any interest in cutting its carbon emissions? Amazing that the truck drivers in Indiana, and the coal workers in West Virginia, and the steel producers in Ohio get that the rest of the world is laughing at us, and the president of the United States doesn't.

The surprise of this election is that Democrats were surprised by the mass voter rejection of the radical climate-change agenda. Every poll for the last five years, at least, has shown that climate change barely registers as a leading concern of American voters. Jobs and the economy were always issues Nos. 1 and 2, and global warming was usually close to last on the list.

A 2015 Fox News poll found that only 3% of Americans believed that climate change was "the most important issue facing America today."

That means 97% disagreed with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer that global warming was the greatest threat to America. This didn't stop Hillary Clinton from telling West Virginians that she would put every coal miner out of a job. Then she wonders why she got crushed in this unionized, historically reliably Democratic state.

The issue that now confronts Democrats is whether they can reconnect with blue collar union voters by disassociating themselves from the fanatical greens who are trying to destroy union blue-collar jobs. It won't be easy. Environmental groups are said to be raising record hauls of cash from their millionaire and billionaire donors since the election. Ultra-green environmentalists like Tom Steyer may call the party's tunes, but then don't be surprised when millions of blue collar middle-class workers flee to the Republicans.

In the Democratic Party, something has to give. My prediction is that Democrats will only make a comeback in American politics when they throw the likes of crazies such as Tom Steyer, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace off the bus and start listening to the everyday concerns of working class Americans again.

This piece originally appeared in Investor's Business Daily.