Oil and water don’t mix for Stephen Lynch
If the Massachusetts Senate race shapes up as the first US election where the environment is a decisive factor, Stephen Lynch could be in for a very rough ride.
Lynch is the target of a provocative ultimatum from California billionaire Tom Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital, a massively successful hedge fund: Drop your support of the Keystone XL pipeline by high noon Friday or I will unleash the force of my megadollars upon you.
Lynch sees the pipeline as a jobs creator and a way to bring new energy resources to the US. Environmentalists see it as the last gap of the fossil fuel industry that will deliver nothing but environmental degradation, with no guarantees that the oil would be consumed in the US.
Lynch better get busy if he wants to shore up his environmental record. His Democratic primary opponent Ed Markey has released a new ad focused on his own response to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He already possesses the kind of credentials that warm the collective hearts of environmentalists, so much so that a Mother Jones headline proclaims, “The Way Green Groups Are Swooning, You’d Think Ed Markey Is Justin Bieber.”
A Boston Globe editorial suggests that Steyer, a Markey supporter, is a “bully” who should stay out of the Bay State Senate race. But Steyer’s involvement in the race is far more complex than mere bullying.
Globe columnist Joanna Weiss points out that Steyer, who describes himself as a “clean energy philanthropist,” parachuted into the Massachusetts race at the behest of Craig Altemose, a Massachusetts climate advocate, and three students, one each from Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Buckingham Browne and Nichols, a private pre-K-12 school in Cambridge. If those students haven’t already aced any US politics courses they may be taking, they should get a pass on the final exam.
It’s not hard to connect the dots of the myriad of dangers that millions of dollars plus student activism might mean for Lynch. Few issues motivate politically-minded students like the environment and, specifically, the role fossil fuels play in climate change. Mother Jones reports that climate change could mean “seven times as many Katrinas” in our future and Massachusetts is way overdue for one of them.
Even the snowy winter of 2013 can be linked to atmospheric changes, a message that local meteorologists like Harvey Leonard and Pete Bouchard have been hammering home. And, don’t forget, Superstorm Sandy was the October surprise that helped nudge Mitt Romney into oblivion.
Oil and water don’t mix for a congressman representing a chunk of coastal Massachusetts. All Lynch needs to do is tour Scituate and other areas hard hit by the recent barrage of winter storms to get a feel for how his support for Keystone XL linked to climate change fears could hurt his campaign. And he may want to get there before Ed Markey does.
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