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Peter Dykstra: Brace yourself for more attention — and attacks — on climate change and the environment

Climate and the environment may be poised to take center stage in American politics. But for many, it'll be as anti-environment talking points.

Advocates of action on climate change have long been galled by the neglect of the issue in reporting on national politics.


Presidential debate moderators haven't found the topic worthy of a question since 2008. The relationship of climate change to extreme weather events is almost completely absent from stories about unprecedented deluges, droughts, bomb cyclones, wildfires and more.

Such attention may well be coming, and for environmentalists, it may not all be the welcome kind. I wrote last week about gullibility in climate politics, and in February, I cited the first sign of a return to the Red Scare days, with Greens in the crosshairs.

Here is more evidence that "overreach" on climate and environmental issues will be a point of attack as Republicans seek to retain control of the Senate and White House and reclaim the House.

The elevation of rookie Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to rock-star status has turned her Green New Deal proposal into a three-sided debate. To devotees of action like AOC, it's a Godsend.

To mainline Liberals like Nancy Pelosi, it's not just an unrealistic nuisance, but a legitimate threat to the Dems' midterm gains.

To many Republicans, like Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA), it's a "$93 trillion plan to strip money and liberties away from American families."

(Note: The $93 trillion number is not exactly well-rooted. In anything.)

And it gets worse: Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said "(the GND) plans to eliminate air travel, end the use of fossil fuels, and replace every building in the United States in the next 10 years … is all a part of a master plan to allow government to take over buildings, businesses, and modes of transportation."

Rob Bishop (R-UT) added that the Green New Deal is "tantamount to genocide. That may be an overstatement, but not by a whole lot."

Thanks for clearing that up, Rob.

Still others warned that the GND would cause the demise of the car, the passenger plane, and the methane-belching cow.

On Wednesday, President Trump told a rally that windless days will mean no power for TV watching (No FAKE NEWS! No Twitter! It's a MIXED BAG, Mr. President!).

Bottom line: AOC and the GND are poised to be set up as the menacing faces of what Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles called "runaway decency."

Personifying liberals and their pet causes or inflated scandals as the roots of all evil is not a new trick: In the midterms, Nancy Pelosi was the villain in fundraising mailings and attack ads; before then, it was Hillary Clinton and Benghazi; John Kerry's swift boats; Al Gore's internet; Bill Clinton's private life; Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick; Jane Fonda's Vietnam and more.

Keep the "public focused somewhere else"

Joe Balash, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Also flying under the radar this week was Joe Balash, Assistant Secretary of Interior for land and minerals management.

He got caught telling the truth in a closed-door speech to an oil industry group. According to an account of the meeting obtained by The Guardian, Balash said: "One of the things that I have found absolutely thrilling in working for this administration is the president has a knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else while we do all the work that needs to be done on behalf of the American people."

In other words, Trump can deflect attention away from climate concerns even while responding to predictions of more frequent and intense Stormy Daniels.

This helps advance the quiet dismantling of the regulatory structure

And he's not the only Trump: In early March, Donald Trump, Jr. dropped this Tweet, reserving his all-caps anger for "RACIST AIR" in an Olympian contortion of the well-documented tendency to locate polluting facilities in poor and minority neighborhoods:

The bottom line is that Democrats see an opportunity to seize the momentum on climate and environment.

They also have an opportunity to fumble it in the face of the GOP's opportunism and denial.

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