Critics scoff at Brown's environmental 'leadership'

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)--The California Clean Air Coalition recognized state Attorney General Jerry Brown Friday for his efforts to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but critics told Legal Newsline the award is out of line. The group said Brown has demonstrated "leadership in environmental advocacy," a statement said. Brown has made air quality and global warming a policy focus since being elected attorney general in 2006. He has reached settlements--after suing or threatening to do so--with San Bernardino County, the Port of Los Angeles, ConocoPhillips and the San Diego Airport to limit carbon dioxide and other emissions. He has been on the road in recent months, pushing and prodding local officials to curb greenhouse gasses, and going after projects that he says will harm air quality. Brown's high-profile campaign has drawn fire from local governments and conservative groups. "I'm not especially impressed," said M. David Stirling, vice president of Pacific Legal Foundation, author of Green Gone Wild: Elevating Nature Above Human Rights. "This is a friendly organization to him, and he is getting this award as part of an effort to advance his quest for governor." Brown, a Democrat, is widely expected to be planning a run for the state's top office in 2010, when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's term expires. Stirling, who worked in the attorney general's office under Republican Dan Lungren, told Legal Newsline the award is more about Brown than about global warming. "What's Jerry's basically doing is using the heavy hand of government to go after, in this case not only the private sector, but also local governments to advance the campaign against quote 'global warming,'" he said. "It's all well and good to support that. No reasonable person would oppose advancing the science of wind power and solar and geothermal. That's a no lose situation for him. It may not be viable in the sense of being able to provide any type of substantive energy source for some time." Ronald Bailey, of the Reason Foundation, also scoffed at the award. The Reason Foundation has criticized Brown's efforts to fight urban sprawl and increase residential density. Bailey said global warming is a real problem, but he doesn't believe it can be fought on the local level. "These are symbolic acts," Bailey told LNL. "They don't really achieve anything of real benefit to the environment."

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