Tea Party backed Republicans are challenging the power and influence of green pressure groups at the local and state level with a vigor that has not been seen in recent memory. The panicked reaction of the news media, especially The New York Times is instructive because it demonstrates that GOP lawmakers with genuine free market convictions are aiming their arrow in the right direction.
“When Republicans wrested control across the country last November, they made clear that reducing all government was important, but that cutting environmental regulations was a particular priority,” The NYT informs readers in a front-page piece that includes quotes from top officials with the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and the Environmental Council of States. The article makes no mention of the collusion between green pressure groups and government officials and instead works to cast a negative light on policy changes that elevate property rights above green regulatory schemes.
“The strategies have been similar across the affected states,” the NYT continues. “….cut budgets and personnel at regulatory agencies prevent the issuing of new regulations, roll back land conservation, and if possible, eliminate planning boards that monitor, restrict or permit building development.
An early test comes in Maine where Paul LePage, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor, is following through on a campaign pledge to roll back environmental regulations. He benefits from new Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, but is up against a “green iron triangle” that is deeply entrenched, lavishly funded and closely aligned with government agencies, Ron Arnold, executive director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, has warned.
“The Big Green disaster that’s destroying Maine has been gnawing away at every state for years,” he said. “The influence and reach of green pressure groups has gone unchecked and unchallenged far too long, crushing private citizens and business owners nationwide. The Iron Triangle, as I describe it in Maine, shows rank collusion between the Maine Audubon Society and the DEP, jointly concocting false ‘science’ to justify catastrophic regulations. Gov.-elect Page and incoming lawmakers need to show some guts and throttle these cabals so they can never hurt anyone again. There is no reason to let fictitious ‘ecological concerns’ continue to overwhelm the state’s economy. It’s time to strip Maine of its anti-business regulations and regulators, restructuring the bureaucracy to promote economic development and force environmental protection to help growth, not demolish it.”
House Republicans have also stepped up. Since January, they have passed at least 75 bills, riders and amendments crafted with an eye toward alleviating environmental regulations. But it is the action at the local level that has the New York Times and other media outlets alarmed. Until now, the “big green machine” that has been burrowed in locally at the expense of small business owners and average citizens has gone largely unchecked and unchallenged until now.
“Small environmental groups, as well as the large well-known ones, are systematically undermining the economic vitality of America,” says Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association. “They are pushing land use regulations and land lock-ups to such a degree that they are killing the economic ecosystem of rural America and blocking the development of jobs and communities while limiting access to productive lands. In the long run, the small environmental groups are hurting America while trying to do what they perceive as good. But the cumulative impact of all of them going in the same direction with a top down ‘for the good of all’ approach is strangling rural America and forcing rural people off their land, off federal land, out of their jobs and business and into the cities. The economic competitiveness of America is being gradually undermined by this process.”
Unfortunately, Gov. LePage is the exception and not the rule where Republican office holders in the northeast are concerned. Tea Party activists should that the “big green machine” continues to hold sway over leading figures in both major parties.