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Here’s Why Conservatives No Longer Vote Green

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 17, 2016

These are a couple of letters to the editor in response to my recent New York Times op-ed “Dear Conservatives, You Can Go Green Again”  They are both literally on the money:

To the Editor:

Re “Dear Conservatives, You Can Go Green Again” (Sunday Review, June 12):

I read with interest Richard Conniff’s plea for bipartisan solutions on the environment. I share his hope. But you can’t overlook the dark figure in the shadows with the club.

Whether it’s the Koch brothers pushing for a vote to reject a carbon fee (Republicans’ only proposed solution for climate change); or Exxon Mobil pretending that it likes a carbon fee while its trade association actively lobbies against any such thing; or Peabody Energy’s bankruptcy revelations of its climate denial funding: The dark hand of the fossil fuel industry looms over and controls the Republican Party.

The political spending threats unleashed by Citizens United stamped out what had been recurring bipartisan proposals on climate. Our failure on climate change is not a failure

within the political system so much as a success for brute fossil fuel influence deployed on the political system.

Keep your eye on that guy in the corner with the club. The day he puts it down, we’ll have a solution.


U.S. Senator from Rhode Island

Newport, R.I.


To the Editor:

Richard Conniff cites roughly a dozen important examples of Republican leadership to protect the environment, going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt. What Mr. Conniff doesn’t do, however, is help us understand what has turned so many Republicans into climate change deniers and protectors of the coal industry.

He could have helpfully noted that between 1990 and an average of the years 2012-14, fossil fuel industry political contributions leapt six-and-a-half-fold, mainly going to Republicans.

With this knowledge, we know that the problem isn’t an insurmountable ideological divide. We know what to do: Remove Big Money’s death grip on our democracy by pushing for legislation enabling small-donor public financing and more.


Cambridge, Mass.

The writer is a co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, a research center




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