Natasha Hunter

Natasha Hunter is a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

Still Predictable:

G regg Easterbrook titles his recent critique -- of my own critique of a recent New Republic editorial -- "Dim Prospect." He may be right about my brain wattage: I've read his article several times and I'm still a little confused. But in the interests of differentiating The American Prospect from both TNR and Cornel West's publicist (by the way, "Cornell" is the school), I'd like to respond to the latest chapter in TNR 's Pollyanna narrative about the environment. Easterbrook characterizes the original TNR editorial as claiming that "Democrats have given in to the enviros' fundraising-based doomsday rhetoric, presenting George W. Bush's environmental record as far worse than it actually is." Easterbrook's latest piece enlarges on this theme of Dems being so wedded to green interests that they can't see the rosy picture painted by environmental indicators. The problem with this line of reasoning is that while Democrats tend to be somewhat more sympathetic to environmentalist causes...

Too Predictable:

S igh. Keeping the planet inhabitable seems like such a no-brainer. And yet in spite of heaps, mounds, and mountains of hard scientific data, some still opt for the more "unpredictable" narrative about the environment. A recent New Republic editorial pooh-poohs the green movement's doomsday warnings as the product of a morosely overactive imagination. It then goes on to berate Democrats for a "symbiotic and increasingly pernicious" relationship with environmentalists. The Bush administration isn't getting the credit it deserves for protecting the environment, the editorial adds; moreover, the Green/Dem coalition has played its cards wrong by refusing to negotiate on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The trouble is, some of the facts don't square with The New Republic 's interpretation. TNR denies that there is "any serious proposal before Congress or the White House that would substantially undermine the laws responsible for [the past decades'] decline in pollution." This...

Power Failure:

N ew York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer excoriated the controversial Senate energy bill today, calling the legislation an "evil stew" of industry tax breaks and environmental rollbacks. Schumer, who joined the Sierra Club, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the National Research Defense Council (NRDC) and Public Citizen in a hastily assembled press conference in the Dirkson Senate Office Building, bemoaned the lack of "breakthrough thinking" needed after the September 11 attacks and the California blackouts. "I can't believe that at this time we are passing this bill," he said. "If someone came down from Mars and looked at our bill, and looked at our situation, they would scratch their heads in amazement." The Senate energy package is expected to pass overwhelmingly this evening, and will proceed to conference with the corresponding House bill passed last summer. Environmental groups agree that of the two packages, the House bill packs the most devastating punch to...

No Shame:

T he collapse of Enron generated a flurry of speculation about Texas Senator Phil Gramm's political loyalties, owing to his wife's position on Enron's board and Enron's extensive contributions to Gramm's campaigns. Whatever Gramm's motivations are, shame doesn't seem to be among them. As Senate Republicans accused Democrats of obstructing the energy bill last week, Gramm quietly blocked an amendment introduced by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein that would have strengthened regulations on energy derivatives trading. Translation: it would have closed the loophole that allowed Enron to hide wholesale prices from buyers and control markets. The measure, which consumer groups called the first "Enron test," flunked. It was denied cloture, thanks to Gramm, by a vote of 50-to-48. His move, moreover, attracted almost no attention in the press. Public Citizen released a highly critical report in December on Gramm's activities, and now organization activists accuse Gramm of blatantly...

Oil Drill:

D rilling in Alaska looks like a nonstarter in the Senate. Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts has promised to filibuster the issue when the energy bill is reopened for debate, and the GOP probably won't muster enough votes to win. Are the greens celebrating? Not entirely. The ones at Public Citizen , the consumer advocacy nonprofit started by Ralph Nader, fear that the defeat of arctic drilling will actually leave conservatives sitting pretty in the briar patch. Greens and Democrats have played the energy issue badly by allowing too much emphasis to be placed on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), some at Public Citizen maintain. Activists there have revived conspiracy theories claiming that ANWR was just a red herring, part of a GOP strategy to wrest environmental concessions from the Democrats while allowing them to claim a hollow victory. "I fear that the Senate Dems may have been bamboozled, painted into a corner where they say, 'Just don't drill ANWR,'" said Public...

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