In case anyone has forgotten (and many long have), April 22 is Earth Day. And while the coronavirus pandemic has put a chill on this year’s worldwide 50th jubilee celebration, it hasn’t caused its demise. If anything, progressive climate change advocates have attempted to leverage the pandemic to further spread their agenda.
Days before the CARES Act was passed, dozens of environmental groups joined forces with leftist organizations to release the “Five Principles for Just Covid-19 Relief and Stimulus”. The fourth of these principles called for:
public investments to rebuild our infrastructure, replace lead pipes, expand wind and solar power, build clean and affordable public transit, weatherize our buildings, build and repair public housing, manufacture more clean energy goods, restore our wetlands and forests, expand public services that support climate resilience, and support regenerative agriculture led by family farmers. Critically, stimulus packages should include conditions for industries to implement high-road labor standards, workforce development, and reductions in climate emissions and toxic pollution.
The Five Principles were followed by the Green Stimulus, a spending package put forth by a coalition of scientists and academics to find “climate and inequality-conscious” ways to spend taxpayer dollars. While they acknowledged that, “We must focus on halting the spread of deadly illness. However, we can do all the preparatory work now to make green projects ‘shovel ready.’”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s miscalculation in her attempt to plant these so-called shovel ready projects into the Phase 3 stimulus is now the stuff of Beltway lore. After the New York Times put the blame squarely on the Democrats for delaying the stimulus, Pelosi made a hasty retreat, but still managed to squeeze in a few pet projects (see 90% GREAT).
These days, progressives have shifted to a new coronavirus pandemic cause: “environmental racism” — the “disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color” according to Vice, a progressive online news outlet. What does environmental racism have to do with COVID-19? Vice answers its own question. “While COVID-19 can be harmful and even deadly to healthy people who contract the virus, as Fauci pointed out, those with predisposing conditions are even more likely to be put in the ICU and even die from the virus. Some of the conditions that make COVID-19 particularly dangerous, like asthma and cancer, can be caused by environmental hazards.”
In fact, a more direct relationship can be traced between the impact of climate change policies and minority and poor communities. PRI’s study Legislating Energy Poverty by Dr. Wayne Winegarden examines how regulations advocated by climate change proponents have contributed to high energy costs in California, disproportionately hurting poor and minority communities.
Over the last five decades, Earth Day has morphed from a call for environmental conservation to a push for a socialist agenda. “Rather than paying homage to the distracting, counterproductive narratives concocted by progressives,” wrote Dr. Henry Miller, “we need to focus on efficiency and achievement, banishing hindrances like . . . political correctness and ‘social justice.’ We no longer have the luxury of being woke.” But with Governor Newsom’s appointment of failed presidential candidate Tom Steyer to the state’s business recovery task force, we likely have a long way to go.
Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.