Monday, February 11, 2013 • 12:00 AM Comments (4)

Is Kerry’s Green Your Green?

Clean energy joins oil as the lightning rod for conflict of interest charges.

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Environmentalists are generally enthusiastic about Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s appointment to the cabinet post of Secretary of State. Historically, Kerry probably has the most stellar voting record on environmental issues of anyone who’s served in the office, including votes for increasing CAFE fuel efficiency standards, promoting hydrogen fuel and ending federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; and votes against oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and stripping the EPA of the power to regulate greenhouse gases.

Since the State Department has a say in all things international, the most immediate decision before him with big environmental implications will likely be to approve or reject TransCanada’s proposal for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, an issue which has already brought scrutiny of his predecessor and her potential conflicts of interest because of existing personal investments.

Kerry—who with a net worth of $184 million is the wealthiest man in the U.S. Senate and has broad investments through multiple trusts—has vowed to divest holdings in stocks that might be similarly scrutinized, including two energy companies that could benefit from approval of the pipeline. In something of a twist, however, some conservative critics have pointed to stakes in “greentech” and alternative energy companies that could also be considered suspect—investments that would thrive if, say, the Keystone pipeline project is nixed, or if Kerry tinkers with tariffs and other international trade policies that have broad effects on global energy markets.

Fair enough—and were the federal government a place where purist ideals flourished, the truthier-than-thou left would laud its opponents’ demand for honesty and transparency. But cynical veteran tree-huggers might secretly cherish this opportunity to turn the tables on their long-spoiled nemeses, preferring not to demand too rigorous an inquiry into Kerry’s “green” holdings. Why?

Though his direct influence might be less at State than it was in the Senate, Kerry seems to be tugging for control of environmental policy-making using much the same rationale as Bush and Cheney did for oil: national security. In recent confirmation hearings, he referred to climate change as “among the top international threats facing the United States,” prompting conjecture as to whether invoking that same specter, which for generations served to shore up government support for oil interests, could be used to justify an environmental “defense” agenda.

In fact, funding alternative energy development through the national defense budget is not so outrageous a proposition; the U.S. Navy already has extensive solar projects in the works. Some, like the one at California’s China Lake research center, even turn a profit. That’s something the Navy—and the government—could certainly use more of, especially in the age of deficit aversion and sequesters.


So far, Kerry seems to be sticking to his strong environmental record, and it’s clear that both he and President Obama have at least a relatively progressive attitude toward steering the nation (and hopefully the world) toward cleaner, greener solutions to our energy needs. It’s also clear that both are believers in climate change, the science behind it and the threat it poses to people everywhere through increasingly extreme weather, food insecurity and disruption of the world’s oceans and other sensitive ecosystems. Responding to a not-so-subtle suggestion from Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso to lay off environmental regulation in favor of economic relief, Kerry countered “The solution to climate change is energy policy. You want to do business and do it well in America, we’ve got to get into the energy race.” He also went on to cite Massachusetts and California as examples of clean energy policy that have actually helped their economies, saying the industry was “growing faster than any other sector” and calling it “a job creator.”

For decades, presidential administrations have included many people like Dick Cheney, whose revolving-door relationship with the oil industry has (besides enriching himself) delayed America’s advancement in cleaner, more renewable energy technologies and put us at a competitive disadvantage in those global markets. What’s more, the historic push for the fossil fuel agenda has engendered hatred for America abroad and racked up a breathtaking cost in money and lives through foreign wars that protect and further the capital interests of that industry. If Kerry happens to profit from crafting energy policy that ultimately saves lives, the budget and the planet, it would be ironic if conservatives claimed the right to cry foul.•

Comments (4)
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Medieval warming period followed by the little ice age occurred around 1200 AD, long before the burning of fossil fuels and increase human population. This proves... at the very least.... that human caused global warming is far from settled science.

Even if we were to agree that "global warming" is real, it is equally ridiculous to think humans can reverse the climate and then stabilize it. And how will we know the mission was accomplished?

Wake up people... "climate change" is not real. The climate changes as evidenced by history and the examples I listed.... there is a natural cycle of ups and downs that occurred prior to the industrial revolution. I'm not saying many environmentalists don't truly believe in it... but all it amounts to is a way to control people in the name of "the planet."

Posted by k on 2.13.13 at 6:54

wake up people! The misinformation and provably erroneous analysis by "K" are just more smokescreens and games being orchestrated by Big Oil and other environmental terrorists.

DO your own research, read the appropriate journals, and exersize independent thought and reach your own conclusions, climate change is real and it's impact is becoming more severe.

Posted by tiedyeguy on 2.14.13 at 8:10

tiedyeguy - I'll take that as meaning you have absolutely no idea how to respond to my point. Thanks for proving me right. How is it absolutely inconceivable to you that periods of warming and cooling have always happened to earth... and always will happen? How is it remotely logical to expect the climate to never change? And again... how did these huge swings happen before the industrial revolution? You have NO ANSWER.

Don't be a sheeple. Be a person with a brain. It's groupthink like this that brainwashes our youth across universities in this country. For all the diversity of skin color, there is absolutely no diversity of thought allowed. The professor is God.

But as for misinformation, what exactly are you referring to? Are you implying that the medieval warming period and little ice age didn't happen?

Posted by k on 2.15.13 at 10:23

Kaiser Soce - meet Straw Man. I'm not suggesting we say "fuck it" and do whatever we want.

If you want to more accurately equate today's environmental movement to your lung cancer example, it would be more like this: The person with a genetic tendency quits their job to solely focus on "preventing cancer" at the expense of everything else in their life.

I'd be fine with not smoking, eating well, and exercising regularly. That is reasonable. However that's not what's happening with the environmental left.

That and the fact that you think those weather patters may have had something to do with volcanic activity isn't quite a convincing argument. The bottom line is we can't "regulate the climate" as it has always been, and always will be, a matter of nature. Policies that severely alter our way of life in the name of "the environment" are more about control than anything else.

I'm for a clean earth just like I'm for a clean house, but to think we can change the temperature is completely idiotic if you filter out the noise and REALLY think about nature.

Posted by k on 2.18.13 at 9:42



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