Bama's 'Green' Policies Punish the Poor; Co-Activists Block Imports That Provide Livelihood Overseas

Article excerpt

Byline: James M. Roberts, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The environmental movement has flexed its lobbying might through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for decades. But never has it been more muscular than under the current administration.

The green lobby's influence has been the stuff of headlines in recent months. Even as gasoline prices soared, it persuaded President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought Canadian oil to Texas refineries. And starting with the Solyndra debacle, there's been a steady stream of stories about the lobby's success in finagling billions of dollars in federal loans for green-energy companies that just keep going belly-up.

But the greens exert far more clout than even these examples suggest. When it comes to U.S. international development and trade policies, the greens don't just influence decisions, they actually run the show.

Upon taking office, Mr. Obama pledged to pursue a new international aid strategy. He would break developing nations' dependence on U.S. aid and instead offer their people a path out of poverty. The president also dismissed the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interest. The rhetoric was correct, but his subsequent actions have taken the United States a step backward and jeopardized a golden opportunity to set a new paradigm in international development.

Progressives have long sought to scupper free-trade initiatives for fear that lower labor costs would give poorer nations a considerable competitive advantage against U.S.-produced goods. Nowadays, instead of appearing to oppose foreign workers, they cite environmental concerns as a reason to torpedo free trade. Such green protectionism has led the administration to crack down on the use of tropical wood in Gibson Guitars and vegetable oils produced in tropical regions.

That's right. The EPA has sought to shut out palm-oil producers in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa from the U.S. renewable-energy market. And it's citing spurious statistics to do it.

It's a strange campaign. As the administration pivots to Asia, one would think strengthening ties with countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia would be critical to U.S. national interests. Certainly, closer relations with Latin American countries are highly desirable. So why pick a palm-oil war with these nations?

Moreover, palm oil can help provide renewable energy - something this president has pledged to promote. But the EPA is trying to put the kibosh on it.

In a highly suspect ruling, the EPA claims that palm oil does not meet the minimum 20 percent lifecycle GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction threshold needed to qualify as renewable fuel under the RFS [Renewable Fuel Standard] program. …