Newt Gingrich, Sierra Clubber
I am happily reminded by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" that among the many difficult-to-explain-now previous positions of GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich is the fact that he was once "a dues-paying member of the Sierra Club." That honorable element of Gingrich's CV was cited in 1995 by then-Club executive director Carl Pope in an open letter to the then- House speaker in Sierra magazine (sadly pre-digital!). Wrote Pope:
You might find it useful. . . to reflect on the years from 1984 to 1990 when you were a member of the Sierra Club, and on the clear environmental values you articulated at that time. . . . As a Sierra Club member, Mr. Gingrich, you opposed drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, calling it a "188-day quick fix" for America's energy future. "Fuel efficiency and conservation measures have a greater potential for providing longterm energy security for our nation," you said in response to a Sierra Club questionnaire. "The dramatic increases in fuel efficiency seen in America's automotive fleet are evidence of how we can meet energy needs of the future."
In 1988, you joined a majority of your colleagues in pledging support for the tough Clean Air Act that Congress later passed. You specifically advocated strong controls on toxic emissions--controls that would require the EPA to set deadlines for regulating cancer-causing poisons in our air. In all these positions you had the full support of the Sierra Club, leading us to endorse you for election on several occasions.
With Gingrich now leading the Republican pack in many polls, perhaps he will soon be seeking the Club's endorsement once again. Stranger things have happened in this election season.
Image: Newt 2012