Vote for the top eco-villain of 2008
Check out our nominees, and then vote in the poll below. And tell us who we missed in comments. (Also see our list of heroes.)
Once upon a time, we thought Bush’s EPA chief was a harmless technocrat. Instead he turned out to be the most flaccid apparatchik in an administration groaning with them. Throughout 2008, evidence dribbled out that in denying California its waiver for tailpipe emission standards, Johnson had disregarded the advice of his staff and been directly influenced by the White House. It was so shameless Johnson eventually refused to talk to Congress about it anymore. So long — and thanks for the punny headlines.
What passes for an Idea Man among conservatives these days, Gingrich hoodwinked gullible journalists last year with his Contract with the Earth. This year he used that unearned credibility on environmental issues to advance a campaign with the slogan “drill here, drill now, pay less.” When the apocalypse comes — and he’s doing what he can to hasten it — the only survivors will be cockroaches and Newt.
Scheming his way through the latest James Bond movie, this dastardly evil-doer engages in no end of eco-baddery. What’s he really after as he buys land in South America, and how does he earn his (spoiler alert!) unctuous end? One thing’s for sure: You mustn’t let his oh-so-subtle surname — or his eponymous Greene Planet organization — fool you. (How we long for the racier days of Pussy Galore.)
The spokesflack for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has filled the airwaves (and blogs) with propaganda so ham-handed and transparent as to inspire a kind of perverse admiration. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to show your hack in public like that. Lucas capped his year by stepping on a PR rake, flailing around to defend blasphemous charcoal briquettes. We’ll miss him when the “clean coal” hype dissipates.
The Virginia governor was reportedly on Obama’s short list for VP, which is too bad. Kaine’s signature environmental contribution this year was to champion a massive new dirty coal plant to be built by Dominion Power, a significant campaign contributor. Hey Tim — Hansen’s talking to you.
In addition to his customary pursuits — violating mine safety laws, bullying politicians and regulators, bribing state Supreme Court judges, blowing the tops off mountains — this spring the CEO of coal giant Massey Energy was caught on tape threatening to shoot a reporter (like, with a gun). Perhaps to distract attention from that savvy PR move, he was caught on tape in November saying climate change isn’t real, “greeniacs” are “crazies,” mass transit will destroy capitalism, and his media critics are “communists” and “atheists.” Gives mustaches a bad name.
Oklahoma, can we talk?
We couldn’t decide whether these final three folks were heroes or villains. What do you think?
T. Boone Pickens
On one hand, he’s probably done more to make Americans take wind power seriously than anybody on the planet, including that Al guy. On the other hand, he’s got some cockamamie ideas about natural gas and a jones for eminent domain we just don’t feel comfortable putting in the hands of a Texan. Anyway, we can’t shake the feeling that this whole energy-security thing is some kind of super-genius, triple-bank-shot scheme to make eleventy kajillion (more) dollars.
The CEO of Duke Energy has been a tireless advocate for carbon legislation and utility energy-efficiency programs. Hell, he was reportedly on Obama’s short list for energy secretary. Buuuuut … his company keeps pushing to build deadly dirty coal plants and offloading the risk for those financially disastrous choices onto its ratepayers.
This good ol’ girl descended on the political scene like a spinning disco ball into a meeting of the math club. After a period of stunned gawking, America noticed that she kills moose and wants to kill polar bears, thinks all energy is oil and all oil is in Alaska, and doesn’t seem to quite get the whole global-warming thing. Which is, y’know, bad — except that it motivated millions of progressive voters to get off their butts and go to the polls (and Tina Fey to get even funnier). Thanks, Sal! (Can we call you Sal?)
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