Environment. (There Is No Silver Lining)
Helvarg, David, The Nation
It was a very off-year election for environmentalists. Along with the House and White House, they now have to deal with a Republican Senate in which the Environment and Public Works Committee has slipped from the hands of Independent Jim Jeffords (League of Conservation Voters rating: 76 percent), into the grip of Jim Inhofe (LCV rating: 0 percent). Inhofe's major 2002 campaign contributor, not surprisingly, was the oil and gas industry.
At the same time, several Republican candidates, notably Wayne Allard in Colorado and Norm Coleman in Minnesota, claimed they were committed environmentalists. In New Hampshire John Sununu called for tougher restrictions on air pollutants while backing away from Democratic attempts to link him to the President's "Clear Skies Initiative," which will increase sulfur- dioxide emissions and allow pollution trading in airborne mercury.
Still, the enviros are reacting to the GOP gains with divergent strategies and a lot of worry. "Bush won't moderate anything," warns Deb Callahan, who heads LCV. "They'll play chicken with us, go straight at us and be in our face. This is the challenge of our lives." Groups like hers, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the US Public Interest Research Group are expected to dig in defensively and begin working with the new postfiasco Democratic leadership under Nancy Pelosi (LCV rating: 95 percent) and the remnant population of moderate Republicans in the House and Senate (who may support the Endangered Species Act out of a sense of self-preservation). Some critics expect huge new infusions of cash to green groups as soft-money surrogates, now that the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prevents the national parties from having their own slush funds, has gone into effect. "I don't believe for a minute we'll get that windfall," says Callahan. "We're not reliably partisan enough." She adds, "I think [green] issue groups will just pop up with direct ties back to political consultants."
Of course, the real test for the environmental movement will not be how bipartisan it's perceived to be but how effective it is. The grassroots National Forest Protection Alliance began staging demonstrations around the country against Bush's public-lands logging proposals two days after the elections. Other groups are focused on statehouse campaigns in places like California, which has begun to set its own tough standards for greenhouse-gas emissions and ocean protection. …