Demonstrating Samuel Rodriguez's Green Hypocrisy
gregmetzger printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 05:44:48 PM EST
A new reader of Talk to Action's work has written to me and challenged me to make a clearer argument in support of the charge that Samuel Rodriguez has been blatantly inconsistent in his views on environmental legislation. This reader and others who I have spoken with wonder if I am being unfair in my criticism of him in this regard. I want to take up these criticisms not only because the importance of the environmental issue that is in question, but also because it fits into a broader debate taking place at Right Wing Watch over Rodriguez's ability to be "both a radical Religious Right activist while enjoying a reputation as a moderate who is regularly invited to the White House and to presidential events."
Within the evangelical community a controversial and well-publicized debate has been going on for months over the issue of mercury pollution and whether or not high levels of it are causing large numbers of citizens severe medical harm. This debate took on particular urgency when on March 16 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first national standard for mercury pollution from power plants. On one side of this debate is the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). They firmly believe that evidence from a wide range of disciplines makes clear that mercury poisoning effects one in six unborn children and that this problem should be seen as an urgent pro-life concern. It came as no surprise then that on March 18 the EEN announced its strong support for the EPA's proposal. In May they started a very public campaign to mobilize evangelicals in support of the EPA's plan to significantly increase regulation of mercury levels. Utilizing video, audio publicity, and eventually paid advertising targeting specific legislators, the EEN engaged in a full-scale effort throughout the summer and into the fall. As a part of their campaign the EEN emphasized studies that they believe show mercury poisoning is disproportionately affecting the Hispanic community in America.

A leading voice on the other side of this policy debate is the Affordable Power Alliance (APA), an affiliate organization of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The APA describes itself as a "diverse coalition of civil rights, African American, Hispanic, senior citizens, and faith based advocacy organizations". Since the EPA's announcement of its proposal to regulate mercury the APA's primary focus has been to challenge the scientific arguments behind the EPA's plans and to seek at the very least a delay in the EPA's new regulations. The APA has been a strong supporter of the work of Dr. Willie Soon, a leading opponent of the EPA's plans. His "Scientific Critique of the EPA's Mercury Rule" is featured prominently throughout the APA's website and in their advocacy with the EPA. On June 17, the APA sent a formal "comment" letter to the EPA, prominently displayed at the APA's website, saying "that a substantial error occurred in EPA's analysis of mercury data used in setting the mercury emission limits" and urging the EPA to delay its plans to implement the new mercury emission limits. On August 4, the APA sent a formal "petition" to the EPA demanding a delay in implementation. This petition emphasized data the APA thinks proves that the proposed regulations would have a disproportionately negative economic effect on "low-income and minority populations."

What I have summarized above is noncontroversial--the EEN and the APA have taken diametrically opposed positions on the issue of mercury pollution regulation and anyone who has followed the debate is aware of that. From the announcement in March and through August Samuel Rodriguez's position in this debate was very clear: He took the APA's side of the debate. This is perfectly understandable given that Rodriguez is a part of the five-person leadership team of the APA. His picture and brief bio appears at the APA's homepage just inches below their large print headline "NOW AVAILABLE! 

A SCIENTIFIC CRITIQUE OF
 THE EPA'S MERCURY RULE
 BY DR. WILLIE SOON." Rodriguez has coauthored articles with fellow APA leaders criticizing various EPA actions and he, like each of the five APA leaders, was a part of the above-mentioned June 17 "comment" letter and August 4 "petition" to the EPA. In each instance the APA opposed the proposed mercury emission limits and called for a delay in their implementation utilizing the arguments of the leading critic of the EEN's work. Rodriguez believed that the debate over mercury emissions was so important that he wrote about it himself in an article for Family Security Matters. In that article he echoed Soon's research in saying that

"...most mercury emissions and microscopic soot now come from volcanoes, forest fires and overseas sources.  Although atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been rising steadily, even scientists who worry about 'dangerous' warming now acknowledge that there has been no warming since 1995. This undermines EPA's claim that carbon emissions pose a health threat."
The concerted efforts of Rodriguez, his colleagues at the APA and other major groups opposed to the EPA's new guidelines culminated in legislation passed in October by the House of Representatives delaying EPA implementation and calling for further study along the lines proposed by APA.

As the vote on that legislation loomed, Rodriguez took a step completely at odds with his actions before and after. On September 5 the EEN helped form an extraordinary coalition of prominent evangelical leaders who signed a statement called "An Evangelical Call to Stop the Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn." The entire point of the statement was to oppose any "further delay" in implementing the EPA's regulations because they are "an essential step in protecting the vulnerable from mercury pollution." This statement was so important to the politics of the approaching vote that Time Magazine ran a major story on it at their influential politics blog. Time's post ran under the headline "Pro-life Christians Challenge Congressional Republicans on Mercury Regulation" and it focused on the EEN's role in persuading leaders pf the evangelical movement to come out in support of the statement urging an end to delay. Given the months of impassioned advocacy by the APA it came as a complete shock to anyone who had been following the story that Samuel Rodriguez was among the 100 evangelical leaders who signed the statement.

If Samuel Rodriguez had a change of heart based on consideration of the merits of the EEN's argument it hardly seems extreme to expect that he would then rethink his leadership in the APA or at the very least issue some sort of explanation for his complete reversal. But he has not done that. To this day he is the most prominent member of the APA's leadership team--a team that made opposition to the EPA and support for the vote to delay implementation the centerpiece of its advocacy for months. The APA's website continues to promote the studies that oppose the EPA and promote their own efforts to defeat the regulations. Rodriguez's picture remains just beneath the glaring headline promoting Soon's controversial report. And in the wake of the APA's victory Harry Jackson, another of the APA's five-member leadership team, has stepped up his attacks on the EEN. In a recent article he said that the EEN had engaged in a "misinformation campaign" and characterized their worldview as being connected to a broader environmental agenda that consigns "legions of Third World children to death from real diseases." Jackson's attack and others of a similar nature led the EEN's president to issue an emotional plea for civility on the part of critics. Meanwhile, Samuel Rodriguez's duplicity continues. Not only does he remain a key leader of the APA and a key signer of the EEN's statement, his NCHLC website features an article provided by the EEN demonstrating the deadly effects of mercury poisoning on Hispanic children just beneath a glowing description of CORE and its environmental work.

In light of all this evidence, I think it is clear why Talk to Action regards Rodriguez's signing of the EEN's statement hypocritical and deceptive. We will continue to challenge his conflicting positions on this and other issues in the weeks to come.




Display:
Mercury is actually good for humans, much like Hexavalent Chromium, don'tcha know.

by Big Phat Jay on Sat Nov 19, 2011 at 11:44:36 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Thomas DiLorenzo's Rebel Yelling
I have written a great deal in the past few years about the odd phenomenon of Catholic Neo-Confederatism.  Let's add one more name to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
Censorship Challenge: Texas Pastor Seeks Restrictions On `Dangerous' Library Books
Back in the 1990s, some Religious Right activists in Virginia got the bright idea to begin attacking America's public libraries. The idea was to......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Suspended St. Louis County Officer Dan Page Made Rounds on Rightwing Radio Shows
St. Louis Police Officer Dan Page drew national attention when he shoved CNN's Don Lemon during a broadcast of the protests in Ferguson, and......
By Rachel Tabachnick (1 comment)
Cop Who Shoved CNN Host Don Lemon Lassoed in Another Conspiracy Rodeo
Rachel Tabachnick broke an important story this evening showing that the rant by Officer Dan Page that got him suspended from the St.Louis County......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Exile Excitement: Some Fundamentalists Seek Escape From Decadent Society
OK, now we've done it. Those of us who advocate things like separation of church and state, secular government, LGBT rights and self-determination when......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Controversy Over White Nationalist GOP Candidate Still White Hot
The 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president Michael Peroutka's current race for County Council in Maryland -- as a Republican -- it is still......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Race, Republicans and the Religious Right
The Republicans have a race problem, and by this I don't just mean that racial minorities don't much vote for them, particularly in the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Rev. William Barber on Religious/Political Inclusiveness
A few weeks ago, I posted about the extraordinary oration of Rev. William Barber at Netroots Nation. (A transcript of the speech is now......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Short Takes
Salon.com  Columnist Thomas Frank considers how snark can cut more than one way. What does it mean when being "on the left" is defined......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
David Brat as a "Libertarian Catholic" is an Oxymoron
David Brat, the Tea Party Young Turk who recently shocked the GOP establishment with his primary win over Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is reportedly,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Kountze Cheerleaders Take on the Courts
The entire town of Kountze, Texas is in a frenzy with business banners, suv window paintings and legal action supporting their local cheerleaders. The......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
A number of posts over the past year have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Good Incentives Gone Awry: Kentucky Officials Are Adamant About Propping Up The 'Ark Park'
I've lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs since 1986, so when it comes to museums, I am spoiled. Just a short subway ride away......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
White Hot Controversy for a White Nationalist GOP Candidate
The controversy over Michael Peroutka's theocratic, white nationalist candidacy for county council, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland -- has gotten white hot after he......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Not Just Whistling 'Dixie': Peroutka Stands Up for Southern Secession - UPDATED x2!
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post. Michael Peroutka, the Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, stood up for secession and the white nationalist League......
By jhutson (1 comment)

Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.