Why Environmentalists Lie: They Are Often Protected from Themselves
Why do environmental activists feel so free to exaggerate or say things that simply aren't true? Today's Seattle Times offers a clue.
Today's Times has a story regarding logging roads and their impact on streams. It notes that the Office of the Attorney General has decided to join other states in appealing a decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that foresters have to receive permits from the EPA for their logging roads.
What stood out at me is this section:
Peter Goldman, an environmental attorney and high-profile Democratic Party activist whose law firm helped win the 9th Circuit ruling, discounted that explanation. He said the ruling would matter little here but that timber owners have holdings in other states that could be affected.
"Dorn and McKenna are just trying to use the state's clout to help the timber guys," he said. "They can't speak for the state when they haven't gone through the agencies who have expertise in this area."
But they did. Both Flint at DNR and Sturdevant at Ecology said they were consulted...
Goldman, who is a leading voice in the Seattle environmental community hoped Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch wouldn't ask the Departments of Ecology or Natural Resources if the AG's office had contacted them. Goldman, who is a supporter of Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark knew the AG's office had, but chose to lie.
This isn't the first time he's used that tactic.
In 2004, Goldman attacked my former boss Doug Sutherland in the same way. Goldman told then Seattle PI reporter Robert McClure that Doug wouldn't meet with him or others in the environmental community.
Goldman knew this was a lie. He had met personally with Sutherland and knew that the environmental community was meeting with Sutherland nearly every month for four years.
McClure, who now runs an environmental blog, asked me about the claim, saying he thought it was an important issue. When I provided schedules showing that Doug had met repeatedly with the environmental community McClure changed his tune. He decided the issue wasn't important after all.
I argued just the opposite. First, it showed that Doug listened to everybody. Second, it showed that Goldman was not bound by the truth. If he thought he could get a friendly reporter like McClure to repeat a lie, he'd do it.
McClure never reported Goldman's lie, protecting him from his own recklessness.
Of course politicians of all stripes lie. The problem arises when reporters hide those lies. When there is no downside to lying, people will try it again. Used to friendly treatment from reporters like McClure who favored his cause, Goldman feels free to make any claim he sees fit, not worried that he will be caught.
That didn't happen this time and Welch made clear that Goldman's claim was false.
Unfortunately, there are many examples where greens are given a pass when making false statements. From the claims of solar panel manufacturers to the alleged impacts of various chemicals, the coverage we hear often highlights the claims of the greens while downplaying or ignoring evidence on the other side.
The result, ironically, is bad for the environment, as we waste resources on policies that do little for the environment because politicians and the public are shielded from the whole story.