Environmentalism in US Politics

Environmentalist Gets Down to Earth

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Over the past few years, environmentalists had yet to find accountable successes in their campaigns, as people seemingly refused to listen to their plans and ideas. For example, environmentalists constantly alert customers about the contents of common goods, yet despite of the excessive and uncontrolled amount of fat and calories that are unhealthy, there is tendency for the customers to ignore the messages. Or the fact that their campaigns to restrict carbon emissions have failed miserably in 2010, regardless of the obvious warning signs of global warming. Challenged with difficulties, environmentalist’s groups are revolutionizing themselves to the new circumstances. Executives have been changed frequently over the past 15 months. Instead of focusing on global problems that do not seem to attract attentions, or that are too difficult to solve at the moment, environmentalists are sharpening their focus into a more transitional and local anxieties. On top of that, they will also attempt to draw attention to the relationship between lobbyists and elections. Their most noticeable success, which was the discontinuation of Keystone XL pipeline, is being propelled forward again this year by its defenders in the Congress. Things don’t stop there. With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico early in 2010, in addition to the defeat to limit carbon emissions globally, the only objective left to save them from collapsing is to carry on with suspending the scheduled pipeline. In order for their organizations to remain practical, they need young leaders that could effectively communicate with younger generations. One example is Mr. McKibben, founder of 350.org, who successfully conveyed the group’s message to the rest of the populations through the means of mass communications, noticeably the internet, and mass protests. Mr. McKibben commented that young leaders often dismisses losses and are more eager to fight even though lucks aren’t in their favors. Michael Brune is one of the leaders that are most praised by Mr.McKibben. Michael Brune became the executive director of Sierra’s Club at the age of 38. He does not concentrate on global warming on a international scale, however, cleverly on a much more local scale. For example, he would point out how local coal plant is contributing to asthma attacks in children, which would raise concerns from local parents, and in effect, supporters for his campaigns.

Hydraulic fracturing is also one problem that the local has to face. Strictly speaking, natural gas is one of the cleanest source of energy (or as environmentalists call it, “greenest”). However, it is not natural gas that is causing problems, but the way it is being collected by companies. Primitive regulations around hydraulic fracturing is producing unsuitable ways to collect gas from underground, which is poisoning the underground water supplies.

Politically speaking, environmentalists are predominantly Democrats. However, recent voting expenditures on both parties are quite extraordinary and excessive. Hence, this creates distrusts within the people as succeeded candidates are not obliged to complete their promises. Therefore, seeing how both political parties are sailing towards profits instead common good, people are often divided. Consequently, the goal of environmentalists is to unite people to strive for a more prosperous future for humanity.

Drilling Critics Face a Divide Over the Goal of Their Fight

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a controversial matter at the present. It is to extract natural gas by drilling and infusing fluid underground at high pressure. Easier said than done. As mentioned before, natural gas is one of the “greenest” source of energy available. It is the unregulated ways of extracting the mentioned source that is creating concerns with local and national organizations. Even though there are solutions to the problems, people are undecided as to completely ban the method or enforce on stricter regulations. Of course, there are always two sides to the stories. Needless to say, there are jobs that are involved with fracking, and by banning it, there will be unpredicted consequences. Regulations are similar to laws, which are often different from state to state. It will be very difficult to one simple solution to fix it all. Such that fracking is economically potent, it is emerging as an industry, and a profitable one at that. Landowners are eager to participate to benefit from the process. But the more people come to understand about fracking and how it is practiced, it is difficult to state whether the whole process can be safely handled. Wes Gillingham, program director for Catskill Mountainkeeper, predicted it, “a disaster for New York State.” The issue is a rather complicated one, such that, the State Department of Environmental Conservation has received 20,800 comments from citizens, which forthrightly exceeds any issues that have ever surfaced. The problem here is the fact that complete banning of the practice is not possible, as any profitable businesses will continue to exist, however, to what extent the government should regulate is questionable. Even though the oppositions see the practice as unethical and endangering to neighborhood, its supporters regard fracking as a cleaner source of energy, which would be on par with renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Environmentalist’s groups themselves are divided, as some regard it as safe and secure while others completely disagree. A possible solution has arisen is to suspend fracking until further studies are completed. The obvious fact is people do not wish fracking to continue at its state, which is profitably harmful.

Chapter 5

Year 2000, Democratic candidate Al Gore received more than 550,000 more votes, but Electoral College decided who win the presidency by a majority. The voting was so that the Florida’ Electoral College could have given the majority to either George Bush or Al Gore as the next President. It is obvious that when Florida State received too much attention, there will be briberies and cheatings involved. The cheatings could not possibly come from the two candidates themselves, but there were corporations interested in one specific candidate winning. That was the reason why Gore sued Florida’s State from having counted the votes manually, and possibly cheated along the way. Gore demanded for a recount, however, Bush prevented from happening. In the end, George Bush won the presidency, yet, it was not clear whether he won by having majority in 537 total votes in Florida or merely on vote on the Supreme Court.

Year 2004, Bush easily dominated his opponent. He received 3,500,000 more votes nationwide, and also won a majority of the popular vote in the Electoral College. Bush’s victory did not reflect only on his personal achievement, but also on the Republican’s new domination. Along with Republicans winning presidency by having both majority in the popular vote and Electoral College, they have dominated the Democratic Party, by having more majorities in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

It is surprising that the United States has one of the lowest rates in turnout in comparison to other industrialized democracies. The rates of turnout reflects upon citizens’ will of participation and citizen’s view of the political parties. The United States is a “two-party” system, whereas other democratic countries have multiparty. The reason is that Democratic and Republican parties have dominated the political systems for a lengthy period of time, and the introduction of any political parties is deemed unnecessary, hence uncovered by any mass media communication, thus, unnoticed by the public. This is noticeably one effect of the media upon the political system. The low rate of turnout indicates the skepticism of the citizens upon the political parties, where they don’t trust any of the parties. Some will have to choose the lesser evil of the two, while others decide not to participate. In addition, the turnout was severely suppressed in the South, as voters were required to pay a high fee to vote, took a literacy test as well as a “good character” test. That was why seventy five percentages of the blacks and poor were eliminated from voting. Political scientist Walter Burnham states that working class citizens don’t vote as much the the upper class in society. This can explain by the fact that the working class cannot often sacrifice their time to vote, as voting time is synced with working hours. In addition, their votes don’t always matter as candidates can win by having majority in the Electoral College. The upper class citizens vote more often than lower class citizens and they have more chance to influence the outcome through donations to political campaigns. Interestingly enough, the authors of the Constitution never believed in political parties. They condemned political parties as a danger to liberty, and hoped for the government to constantly check and balance the parties. Because of our “two party” system, there will be diverse and conflicting interests within the same group. For example, in the past, there were people from the Democratic Party that supported the integration and those opposed it. The political parties often ignored the conflicts or any concerns from the citizens, since they will have no choice but to vote for one of the party. The political parties will only response to issues that are beneficial to the elites, since they are the biggest supporters and donors. In a way, the two system party fail to reflect upon the needs of the majority and satisfies a small portion of society.

The truth remains that candidates need a lot of money for their political campaigns and ads. For example, in 2004, 91% of the Senate and 96 % of the House of Representatives won their seats because they spent more than their opponents. Candidates don’t often have the money readily available, however, these money can come from “donations” from corporations and firms. These companies often regard these expenditures as “investment” for their political influence. The truth is, they are. Representative Michael Oxley put it as, “it would be difficult to ask people to contribute, and not let us know their opinion.” It is hard to conversate with politicians, but with a little bit of money, they might hear us better. It is of course illegal to directly give cash to politicians for political decision, however, contributions are elusive and indirect, thus, making them legal. The benefits of donations can include the motivation for legislator to support a bill and recommendation of amendments to a bill. Seeing how corrosive and elusive these contributions are, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) was introduced in 1974 to control contributions and spending. All receipts and disbursement are required to be made public. But on the other hand, the Political Action Committees was also formed to combat with the FECA. There are basically two kinds of contributions, soft and hard money. Hard money has to be reported, yet, soft money, which is meant for educational and building party purposes, is unregulated and unlimited. In fact, 3/4 of the soft money come from business executives. The solution from the FECA was to increase the amount of hard money contributions per person, from $1000 to $2000. Even though money does not guarantee victory, it means one has not spent enough money to achieve what they desired. Political participation in the U.S is namely open, one can know for certain that it is not free.