Guarding against sanctimony

The environmentalist scandal that just toppled Oregon’s governor occurred because the people of that state “felt no need” for checks and balances or cost/benefit analysis “because everyone involved is a credential environmentalist!”

So argues Holman Jenkins in Oregon Is Greener Than Thou.

Self-righteousness is often a masquerade of self-interest (and) claims of holiness are no less suspect when derived from the modern religion of environmentalism than from any of the more traditional faiths…

Maybe religions have to be around for a while before they discover the wisdom of inoculating themselves against the imbecility of self-righteousness. If so, environmentalism is still traveling the downward leg. America’s first clean-water and clean-air laws placed the issue firmly under the heading of public health, tying environmental protection closely to observable public benefits. The Cuyahoga River was burning. The air in Los Angeles was unbreathable.

Only in the decades after the 1970s and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency has the cause become progressively unlinked from demonstrable human benefits here and now, in favor of a more eschatological outlook. Mr. Obama advances his environmental claims in the cadences of a preacher invoking the miracles of Moses, describing his own advent in biblical terms as the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

And look at the swelling corps of handout-seeking billionaires and corporations who have perfected “green” self-interest. Not just wind and solar and ethanol impresarios, but even one of the world’s biggest oil companies, BP , pronounced itself “beyond petroleum” in the 1990s while expanding its petroleum footprint by acquiring Amoco and Atlantic Richfield.

But something about our Western longitudes seems to be conducive to a hypocrisy so unaware of itself as to be entertaining. Take Tim Cook of Apple, who sanctimoniously advised investors at Apple’s annual meeting to “get out of the stock” if opposed to shareholder money subsidizing green energy. Too bad taxpayers can’t opt out. Mr. Cook’s latest $848 million solar project will be profitable, he insists, thanks to taxpayer subsidies that include 30% of the project’s upfront costs.

Don’t get us started on Google and its callow “don’t be evil” sloganeering. When it comes to proving Mr. Obama’s prayer breakfast point, however, give the prize to Vladimir Putin’s alleged funding of Western green groups to lobby against fracking. Environmentalism, alas, is a church with its reformation nowhere in sight. Jesus provided his followers the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector to guard against sanctimony. The greenies will have to admit corruption is possible before they can do anything about it.

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