Another domino has toppled from the ranks of the most virulently anti-environment members of Congress. The election of 2006 took out Richard Pombo, then chairman of the House Resources Committee. Last week came the news that his comrade-in-chainsaws, Rep. John Doolittle, will retire at the end of this congress. Mr. Doolittle, who represents northeastern California, is being investigated for ties to Jack Abramoff and has chosen not to seek reelection under heavy pressure from fellow Republicans, who feared losing the seat to a Democrat. Doolittle, a shoo-in in most of his nine elections, barely edged his Democratic challenger last time. He has been a reliable supporter of timber companies and a vigorous champion of the proposed Auburn Dam on the American River. Environmental types are overjoyed to see him go.
Another bit of good news last week was the administration’s decision to withdraw its appeal of a court ruling that found illegal its rewrite of the Forest Service’s rules — a rewrite that tried to write the public out of the process. Instead of continuing the legal fight, the government said it would offer new rules within a few weeks or months. Word on the street is that the new rules will be so much like the old ones that we’ll be headed back for another round in court. These guys are relentless.
Finally, you can’t go into a store these days without being bombarded by products claiming to be green, organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly, from soap to nuts. Caveat, as they say, emptor. A study by an outfit called TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found that of 1,018 "green" products all but one (Cascade paper towels) made false or misleading claims. TerraChoice lists six sins of greenwashing: A hidden tradeoff (toxin-laden electronic gear that touts its energy efficiency), no certification, lying about certification, vagueness ("all natural"), irrelevance ("CFC-free" when CFCs have been banned for years), or the lesser of two evils (organic cigarettes). As Kermit The Frog says, it ain’t easy being green.