The modern environmental movement has outlived its usefulness. It needs to be put to  rest—permanently. What started about 50 years ago as a legitimate, grassroots movement, is barely recognizable today. The movement has become more about money, power, and control than about solving environmental problems.

The unholy alliance that this multi-billion dollar movement has formed with big government and corporate foundations has the potential of destroying America as we know it. Consolidation and centralization of governmental power in Washington has become the principal goal of the movement.

Leaders of the movement are using popular, well-intended federal statutes enacted in the 1960’s and ’70’s to expand federal powers beyond anything previously experienced in American history. Although there are dozens of examples, two in particular clearly illustrate the point: Climate change and water quality.

Driven by big money and politicized science, environmental leaders and their congressional allies nearly pulled off “cap and trade” legislation, perhaps the biggest tax proposal in history. As the debate raged over the question of whether the globe is actually warming, and if so, why, there was no debate among the elite leadership of national environmental organizations. And those who had the audacity to question the elite were silenced, because the debate over the science had been “settled.” Sadly, there will continue to be considerable economic and social damage resulting from this incredible debacle. Climate changes. That’s what climate does! To think we can have significant influence over that fact is arrogant.

In 2007, responding to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting federal jurisdiction under the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, Minnesota’s own Rep. James Oberstar introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act. The bill proposed to expand federal authority over all waters of the U.S. and activities affecting these waters, such as land use and atmospheric deposition.

Arguably the biggest federal power grab in history, the bill was supported by over 300 environmental organizations, and had 176 co-sponsors. Incredibly, Rep. Oberstar, as Chairman of the committee that had sole jurisdiction of the bill in the House, attempted to mark up the legislation and send it to the floor for approval without a hearing!  Fortunately, a handful of democrats on Oberstar’s committee objected and forced a hearing, which ultimately resulted in the bill being defeated. This issue was a major factor in the defeat of Mr. Oberstar, who was thought to hold one of the safest seats in Congress.

Undaunted by setbacks in Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have embarked on an unprecedented effort to expand federal control without Congressional approval and with their own creative interpretations of U.S. Supreme Court rulings. This will surely add fuel to the fire and create a substantial backlash.

However, we need more than a backlash.  As the late author Michael Crichton said in State of Fear, “We need a new environmental movement with new goals and new organizations.”

The modern environmental movement is based on centralized planning and top-down command and control. Left unchallenged (as it has been for decades), it will continue to cause severe economic and social damage, and it will lead to damage of the physical environment, as well. Moreover, it will severely dampen the human spirit.

A new movement should recognize and embrace human rights (including property rights), human values, and human responsibilities.  It should embrace culture and tradition, families and communities, and jobs and economic and social development. It should be committed to honesty, accountability, scientific integrity, and the notion of people and communities regaining some measure of control over their own destiny.  And it must surely be about changing the way we govern—from the bottom up, instead of from the top down.

The timing and circumstances are right for a new, non-partisan movement based not on fear, but on facts, common sense, and the good will of average Americans.  Minnesotans are in an ideal position to lead such a movement. Join Us!