Mother (Jones) Rolls Eyes While Michigan Enviros Laud Rep. Dingell’s “Green” Record
by P.D. Lesko
It’s no surprise Republican Rob Steele couldn’t unseat Representative John Dingell in 2010. However, Steele’s run, which campaign emails intimated would be financed with the doctor’s own “fortune,” rattled Team Dingell. Former President Bill Clinton came to Michigan and stumped for the Dean of the House prior to the November election. It’s obvious why Steele had Republican support, but it’s also true that Repesentative Dingell is routinely pummeled in the online comment sections of the Detroit newspapers, as well as AnnArbor.com. One common criticism is the Congressman’s “pandering” to Detroit, to quote Time magazine. In the October 5, 2009 issue of Time, in a sidebar to the piece titled “How Detroit Lost Its Way,” the magazine editors singled out Representative John Dingell for political pandering. They write, “In an effort to prop up their constituencies, politicians like John D. Dingell resisted sensible policies, like more-stringent mileage standards, that would have helped Detroit compete today.”
Lisa Wozniak is the Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. She appeared with Represenative Dingell at his recent Ann Arbor campaign kick-off event. Wozniak was there to sing the praises of Representative John Dingell, Environmentalist. Of course, the LCV and Wozniak have a record of endorsing candidates spurned by the more politically reliable and credible Sierra Club. After Wozniak contributed money to his mayoral campaign, the LCV endorsed John Hieftje, whose environmentalism included subsequently attempting to lease a parcel of river-front parkland in Ann Arbor for a 1,000 car parking tower to be used by the University of Michigan. Though the city has a Charter requirement that mandates sales of parkland to be approved by voters, Hieftje and his City Council cronies attempted to circumvent the Charter by negotiating a lease of the parcel for under $50,000 per year—the river edge land has been valued at between $5-$10 million dollars.
Like Hieftje, whose environmental record the Sierra Club has refused to recognize as credible, John Dingell has been the subject of national Sierra Club action alerts, including this one issued in 2009 that lambasted Dingell’s rejection of state clean car rights—a program the Sierra Club supports thanks to its success in reducing global warming. When he campaigned to represent the 15th Congressional District in 2002, the Sierra Club endorsed his opponent, Representative Lynn Rivers. Under the auspices of the most recent redistricting, Representative Dingell’s 15th U.S. Congressional District was redrawn to include large portions of Washtenaw County, all of Ann Arbor, and nearly the entire Downriver Detroit area—the new 12th Congressional District.
This year, Representative Dingell is being challenged in the Democratic primary by a candidate (Dan Marcin) who is talking about the green elephant in Dingell’s Washtenaw County living room: his record on the environment.
Despite the fact that national media outlets have for years chastised Representative Dingell for resisting “sensible environmental policies,” Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and Michigan environmental Uncle Toms are only too happy to step in and try to cover up the potholes in Dingell’s environmental record. Former Ann Arbor City Council member and Michigan legislator Chris Kolb ponied up a guest commentary published in the Detroit Free Press on April 22, 2012 and titled: “Rep. Dingell’s green legacy.”
Kolb is the Executive Director of, yes, the Michigan Environmental Council. He writes:
So today, in addition to celebrating Earth Day, I want to honor one of our own: a pioneer of American environmental policy whose leadership should be modeled by others. From authoring landmark environmental legislation to making sure we have a secure energy future; Congressman Dingell’s important work makes Earth a healthier, more vibrant place for us and the generations that succeed us.
Mother, alas, has been rolling her eyes and gnashing her teeth since 1999 at the mention of John Dingell’s environmental record in Congress. Mother is none other than Mother Jones.
Who is the Michigan voter to believe? Lisa Wozniak or Chris Kolb? The award-winning reporters at Mother Jones? Hmm….if you’re under 35 and went to a public school, the obvious answer is Lisa Wozniak. If you’re over 35 and went to a private school, the obvious answer is Chris Kolb. If you live in Wayne or Washtenaw County and have asthma thanks to air quality that EPA research shows ranks among the worst in the state (and country), listen to what your Mother has to say on the subject of John Dingell’s environmental record.
In a 2009 piece titled “Misremembering John Dingell,” Mother Jones’s Steve Aquino writes:
Dingell’s close relationship with the auto industry, a connection seen as one major reason for Detroit’s foot-dragging on raising fuel economy and cutting carbon emissions during Dingell’s 17-year tenure as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a position he lost in November when Californian Henry Waxman organized an intra-party coup to oust Dingell. Waxman’s rise to the chairmanship of the Energy Committee represented not only an geographic and ideological change (from Detroit to Beverly Hills), but a generational one as well (Dingell had been in the House for 20 years when Waxman arrived as a freshman).
Here’s a list of Representative Dingell’s anti-environmental successes courtesy of Mother Jones. Neither the Executive Director of the League of Conservation Voters (Wozniak), or the Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Council (Kolb) let these issues get in the way of endorsing Representative Dingell as a Green Giant among us:
- Even though Dingell helped write the original CAFE standards in 1975, he has since resisted broad changes to emissions, fuel economy standards, and other regulations affecting the auto industry, including air bags. In 1989, when Nevada Senator Richard Bryan proposed a bill to raise CAFE standards to 40 miles per gallon, Dingell floated the idea of building a toxic waste dump in Bryan’s home state.
- Dingell’s wife, Debbie, has worked for General Motors since 1977, when she joined the company as a lobbyist. Dingell’s own financial disclosure documents show he owns at least $600,000 in GM stock and stock options.
- As late as November 2007, Dingell was still pushing to keep SUVs classified as light trucks, a classification that subjects them to less-strict fuel economy standards.
Kolb and Wozniak also failed to see the problem with the fact that Dingell made the handy Mother Jones 2010 list of British Petroleum’s favorite 20 politicians (#8) to whom the company’s PAC has given most of its millions in donations. Ironically enough, In September 2010, Dingell’s campaign team sent out an email pitch for money that claimed Dingell “had taken on BP.”
Kolb and Wozniak ignored the news piece published in Mother Jones when Dingell was ousted from his committee chairmanship by Waxman: ”Huge news. Great news. Michigan Representative John Dingell, who has spent over 50 years in the House of Representatives being the auto industry’s babysitter, has lost his position as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to the younger and more liberal Henry Waxman.” Ouch. MJ also reported that when the EPA finally declared greehouses gases pollutants in 2009 that “Henry Waxman is much less polluter-friendly than Dingell was during his tenure in the House.”
Since 1999, Mother Jones has been revealing inconvenient truths about Representative Dingell’s environmental record. The plethora of national investigative reporting on John Dingell’s efforts to, among other things, claim greenhouse gases were not pollutants, also raises uncomfortable questions about why Ann Arbor and Michigan environmental leaders continue to overlook the truth about poor air and water quality in Dingell’s own 15th Congressional District while endorsing the Congressman. Kolb’s guest commentary and Wozniak’s cloying endorsement gloss over Dingell’s record with a smelly, oil-based substance that they quickly dump into the nearest sewer grate.
Michigan voters, particularly those who cast votes for candidates who run as environmental stewards should, then, cast a cold eye on Kolb, Wozniak, as well as the endorsements of their respective organizations during the upcoming election season.
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