As I’ve argued several times, the battle over coal-export terminals in the Pacific Northwest is the key U.S. climate fight of the next few years. Coal-port expansion is the fifth most carbon-intensive project currently planned in the world, bigger than anything else over which American politicians have control.
In other words, it’s a defining issue for climate hawks. No ambiguity about it.
So imagine my surprise when I read in The Seattle Times that several purportedly “green” Seattle consultants and strategists are working for the coal companies, trying to bribe and cajole Seattle towns into accepting these polluting monstrosities.
Can you imagine? I mean, how much of a cash-grubbing mercenary do you have to be to throw your “green” reputation overboard for coal money, the dirtiest money on the planet?
I wasn’t going to write anything about this, because “consultants sell out” is not exactly world-shaking news, but then I read this, from sellout Bruce Gryniewski: “I don’t believe in this eco-McCarthyism view that if you work for coal, you can’t do anything good in the world.”
That’s right: He doesn’t just want to sell out his principles and work for one of the scummiest industries on the planet on behalf of one of the most carbon-intensive projects on the planet, he wants to do it and be free from criticism. If his bewildered ex-allies in the green movement disapprove — not use the force of government against him, mind you, just speak out in disapproval — it’s “McCarthyism.”
So he’s not just a planet-fucking, money-grubbing sellout, he’s a whiner with a victim complex too. Wonderful fellow, that Bruce Gryniewski.
And then there’s this:
In interviews, representatives from several of the firms argued the new jobs for the region would outweigh negative consequences from the coal, which they said Asian countries would get from somewhere anyway.
“I think it’s an oversimplification to say that if you don’t meet that demand, it will disappear,” said Lauri Hennessey, a vice president at Edelman who has worked at the Environmental Protection Agency. “The more you dig into the whole complicated issue, I feel very, very proud about being involved.”
Ah, the first defense of every sellout working to bring more fossil fuels into the world: They’re going to come from somewhere! If we don’t screw future generations, someone else will, so we might as well make dough off it.
Putting aside the repugnant moral logic, it’s just incorrect. Here’s the primary result from a study of the matter [PDF] done by economist Thomas Power: “Coal exports from the Northwest mean lower prices and higher consumption in Asia.” Conversely, if we bottle up those exports and keep the damn coal in the ground, prices will be higher and consumption will be lower. It’s not really that “complicated,” Lauri Hennessey. And you have nothing to be proud of.
As for personal relationships, Hennessey said she believes “it’s very possible to disagree with someone and still respect them.”
Yeah, it’s possible. But not in this case. I’m going to go ahead and not respect Lauri Hennessey, because she is putting her time and professional reputation behind a malevolent force that will degrade local health and deprive future generations of a livable earth. It’s scummy.
Or take this spectacular lack of self-awareness:
“We’re proud of our environmental commitment — the work we’ve done for a variety of sustainable enterprises, from clean technology to green buildings,” said Roger Nyhus, who served as a spokesman for [former] Gov. Gary Locke. “I don’t see that being inconsistent with the work that we’re doing here.”
“The work that we’re doing here” is evil, Roger Nyhus. It’s going to degrade the air and water. It’s going to exacerbate climate change, to the tune of immense suffering for the world’s most vulnerable people. If you don’t see how that’s inconsistent with a commitment to sustainability, it’s probably because you’re letting a big fat paycheck blind you to it. It’s not that hard to see for the rest of us.
Washington state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D) says he’s “deeply disappointed” in these sellouts, but “It’s just one of those realities when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. This is the gig, and the game we’re in.”
Yeah? Well I for one am sick of treating it like a game. It’s not a game. And in this particular case, it’s not complicated. It’s working on behalf of evil and it’s a shitty thing to do, professionally and morally.
I’m sick of pretending, like sellout Lauri Hennessey, that we can all sit around stroking our chins and engaging in genteel dispute with one another while agreeing that, heh heh, we’re all still friends here. No. You sell out the future, you sell out my kids, and you’ll just have to live with some scorn from people who care about them. If it hurts your feelings, Bruce Gryniewski, Lauri Hennessey, and Roger Nyhus, well, I’m sure you’re making enough blood money to console yourselves.
For more on who is and isn’t selling out to coal, go to the original source for this stuff, the Sightline Institute, here and here.
UPDATE: While I’m at it, I should note that a group of scummy Washington state lawmakers is, even as we speak, trying to jam a bill through the state legislature that would fast-track two of the coal ports. If you’d like to express your feelings on that subject — for instance, if you want to tell them to stop being such huge dicks — you can do so here. And more generally, for information and opportunities for action on Pacific Northwest coal exports, check out Power Past Coal.