COOPER, Maine -- Last week was a bad week coming at the end of a bad month here in downeast Maine. The prevailing winds out of Northeast Harbor suggest more policy based on a mixture of religious collectivism, alarmism and noblesse oblige. Rachel Carson and Henry David Thoreau are the secular saints of our civic religion, which now prominently features a puritan application of the precautionary principle.
Recent events included:
· Ten Northeast governors, six Republicans among them, announced they want to have a regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions agreement. Six of the governors have already signed an agreement with five Canadian provinces to do just that. Apparently emboldened by this unchallenged usurpation of the Treaty Power, these ten governors gave no indication whether this proposed interstate agreement would be submitted for congressional consent as the Constitution requires. Hey, if you steal somebody's car and they don't report it, is it still theft?
· Meanwhile, most of the 20 senators representing those states are supporting one form or another of greenhouse gas emissions controls, i.e., backdoor Kyoto. The "cap and trade" approach, utilizing market efficiency to impose a huge layer of government control and green religion on our society is surely efficient. On one side of the culture war are the folks who think that's just fine.
· The Bush administration unveiled its climate change research agenda, which was largely unobjectionable if also typically timid and incrementally damaging. We should be funding some climate engineering research if this is such a "capstone" issue. Within hours, Maine's senior senator had issued a green-pleasing press release noting that research was not an excuse for inaction and reiterating her frequent calls for a statist and environmentally correct energy and climate change policy.
· Maine's junior senator was a little more circumspect, probably because she gets the credit for procuring big research bucks on "sudden" climate change to Maine. She took the opportunity last week to focus her senatorial spotlight on the need for mandatory equal mental health benefits, something I'm sure will help lower skyrocketing insurance costs.
· Maine's governor appointed an energy czarina who previously worked as a lobbyist for alternative energy (green) companies and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. She was prominently featured in a Wall Street Journal story on the religious and cultural aspects of gas-electric hybrids and driving barefoot. She has been quoted that there is a "moral imperative" to address global warming. Her job is to push Maine towards using less energy. She says that wind energy is less expensive than fossil fuels when you consider the environmental and military costs. I guess that's why cash-strapped Maine is committed to buying half its power from "green light" sources, which apparently cost more but are less filling and thus "better" for you. They are apparently high in moral fiber.
· The state of Maine dropped its appeal of the federal endangered species listing of Atlantic salmon, which affects just about all of the 1.1 million acres of rural and impoverished Maine hard on the Bay of Fundy known as "Downeast Lakes." It's a typical Endangered Species Act story -- rural natural resource-based economy decimated by green advocacy and lawsuits in the name of biodiversity. Since the salmon were listed in late November 2000, our senators have secured millions of dollars in ESA money for land acquisition and research and bad salmon aquaculture companies have been properly chastised and shackled. Salmon threatening blueberry agribusiness pesticide users are next. In exchange for Maine's dropping the suit, the Feds agreed not to extend the listing to populated Maine without asking first. I guess that was the best deal the governor could get.
· And finally, the weekend papers had full-page ads of the Nature Conservancy's "Corporate Conservation Council," Maine businesses that had contributed to the Nature Conservancy's orchestrated drive to implement the wildlands project in Maine and rural North America. It's an impressive list of folks who apparently found a profitable and/or morally satisfying answer to the question: What economic system is it where the government owns or controls the means of production, including land?
And that's the week that was.