Elitist environmentalists hate the working class

But that’s been the history of environmental activism from the beginning: rich white people doing well at the expense of the lower classes. In a 1977 Harper’s article, William Tucker explored the history of what’s regarded as the first big environmental movement in America: the opposition to Con Edison’s Storm King pumped-storage project. The project was designed to save energy costs and make it easier for Con Ed to handle summertime peak demand. It would also have provided a lot of jobs in a depressed area.

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The catch is, it would have spoiled the views from rich people’s estates in the nearby mountains. As Tucker reports at length, those affluent landowners constructed an entire edifice of opposition to Storm King, for the most selfish of reasons. He quotes a local mayor, who was told by one of the landowners, “We’ve got it nice and peaceful up here, why do you want to spoil it?” The mayor reported, “I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything, but what I wanted to say was ‘What about all the little people down there in the village who need this plant? Did you ever think about them?’” No.

Hiring big law firms and elite PR firms, along with enlisting celebrities like Pete Seeger, who wrote a song about the mountain, the landowners managed to turn a selfish desire not to have to look at electric power lines that would benefit millions into a quasi-religious crusade on behalf of Nature. The plant was stopped, property values were protected and only the little people suffered.

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