The Spectacle Blog

‘Big Green’ Wields Its Influence

By on 9.28.10 | 4:12PM

Don't miss the Washington Examiner's weeklong special series, led by editorial page editor Mark Tapscott, about the influence of "Big Green" on elections, regulations, and lucrative paybacks. As they wrote yesterday:

They got comfortable wielding political, regulatory and legislative power. And many found in the movement a very comfortable living. Environmentalism went from cause to business to special interest.Thus the “Big Green” in the title.

In their success, environmentalists have gone too far, destroying the once-healthy balance between economic and environmental needs. Their agenda is now about stifling economic development and ham-stringing American free enterprise and the prosperity it creates.

Writer Mark Hemingway explained yesterday how wealthy the movement has become:

“Taken as a whole, the environmental movement appears to have grown in number of organizations, members, and in total revenues almost every year since 1960,” according to a 2008 report from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, with the most up-to-date figures available.

Total revenue for environmental and conservation groups grew from $1.9 billion in 1989 to $8.2 billion in 2005, the latest year for which data was available. The rate of growth between 1989 and 2005 was 50 percent higher than the average for all public charities.

Hemingway also detailed the growth of environmental regulation and costs of regulatory compliance:

More than 37,000 regulatory reviews were issued by federal agencies from 1981 to January 2005, according to Environmental agencies started 6,354 of them. Only agriculture sparked more regulatory activity.

It’s gotten even worse since then. Regulatory expert Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that environmental regulations now make up 30 percent of all economically significant regulations submitted for review — more than any other issue.

Federal regulatory spending on environmental issues has increased an incredible 7,372 percent between 1960 and 2006....

Regulatory compliance costs are skyrocketing. According to a Small Business Administration report titled “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms,” the total cost of complying with federal regulations is $1.1 trillion a year as of 2004. That’s more than $10,000 per household. The cost of regulatory compliance was just $7,000 in 1995 — up 30 percent in less than a decade.

And Tapscott explains how the environmentalists exercise sustainable influence:

Officials of a dozen top Big Green environmental groups contributed more than $14.5 million to congressional and presidential candidates in 2008 and through the second quarter of 2010 with 96 percent of the total going to Democrats, according to an Examiner analysis of federal campaign data.

I could go on, but it's worth your time to follow the Examiner's excellent work on your own. And then next time you read about environoiacs complaining about the influential money of "Big Oil," go ahead and enjoy the laugh.

This is one way that it works:

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