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Know Thine Enemy

I have a simple rule of thumb to decide how to vote on the ever-more-complicated, ever-more numerous propositions that infest the ballot here in California come election time. It is this: Anything that is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is something that I will enthusiastically vote against. The late Mr. Jarvis and a co-conspirator named Paul Gann managed to get a property tax measure passed in 1978 that ruined the public schools in our fair state and caused much other mischief that we still suffer from. The association remains active and is reliably wrong on everything.

Well, it looks as if we may have just such a lodestone on matters environmental. It's a new group known as Responsible Resources. The website gives immediate clues-a rotating slide show with heroic photographs of offshore oil rigs, a dam, the Alaska pipeline, giant cooling towers, and an onshore oil rig, with solar panels and windmills thrown in for good measure. An ad launching the group argues against raising taxes on the energy industry.

The creators of this fine public service are former staffers for Richard Pombo who represented part of California's Central Valley for seven terms in the House before losing his seat in 2006. Mr. Pombo was an outspoken opponent of sensible environmental policies and programs, especially the Endangered Species Act, which he very nearly succeeded in eviscerating. He was brought down partly through his ties to Jack Abramoff, partly through a terrific effort mounted by several environmental groups, and with an essential boost in the form of a primary challenge by the former congressman Pete McCloskey.

There's a good story about this new outfit in Sourcewatch and another in The Hill, which quotes the new group's chairman as follows: "A clean environment is a luxury that only the wealthiest countries can afford," which is worth pondering.

We'll have to see how it develops, but I think it's likely that Responsible Resources will be the place to go when you're unsure about some issue: If they're for it, I'm probably agin. And vice-versa.