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How can one be “President” of the friends of the earth

September 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Well, while one might not be able to be President of the earth’s “friends” (which we would hope would encompass essentially all humanity), there is Friends of the Earth, which is truly a top-notch environmental group, often carrying substance into the policy discussion far beyond the weight of its budget. (Perhaps the motto could be, when Friends of the Earth speaks, friends of the earth listen?) Led for decades by the thoughtful Brent Blackwelder, today FOE announced a passing of the baton across generations to Erich Pica, a ten-year FOE veteran of analysis and campaigning.

From his introductory video, here are Erich’s words as to why he became an environmental activist, creating the path to his new leadership position:

I learned that our economic growth, our gross domestic product is based on a lie.

It is based on the destruction of the environment.

And, I was outraged.

And, I wanted to come to Washington, DC, to help solve that problem.

And, for ten years, Erich has worked to find paths “to help solve that problem”, mentored by one of the environmental community’s doyens, Blackwelder, who has spent decades (including, for example, over 100 times testifying to Congress) on the front lines of environmental policy battles.

Pica’s announcement might come at a particularly a propos moment. One of Erich’s arenas has been the overt and hidden subsidies for fossil fuels, which few people realize overwhelm (in the US and globally) all the subsidies for all forms of clean energy (and energy efficiency) combined. Whether through gasoline price subsidies at the pump (Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc), tax subsidies for production and favorable tax treatment re reserves (United States), huge subsidies for paths to use fuels (road infrastructure, gasoline vehicles, etc — essentially every nation), military investment to protect oil (US, Europe, China, etc …), ignoring the “external” costs (such as health cost impacts), etc, fossil fuel subsidies undermine the entire concept of a ‘free’ market that could enable better solutions to come to the fore and ‘win out’ in the energy arena.

President Obama will be addressing the United Nations, next week, on climate change. The ‘rumint’ (rumor intelligence) is that he will propose a global agreement to end fossil fuel subsidies. Friends of the Earth’s new President will be a welcome voice in the national (and global discussion) if President Obama makes this proposal.

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Tags: environmental