Luckily for Ralph Northam, the senator’s environmental positions appear ‘radically liberal’ in comparison to his drive-the-planet-into-the-ground opponent for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson. Not only are Jackson’s political positions on the environment inimical to its preservation, Jackson represents the wing-nut group of conservatives in Virginia whose primary forte is cooking up conspiracy theories regarding every level of government.
Jackson has argued, for instance, that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is a puppet of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ‘killing’ Virginia’s coal-mining sector as a result. While Jackson may believe it’s just good politics, a part of me also thinks that Jackson actually believes some of the far-fetched conspiracy theories that he spins out for the mainstream media to print across its front pages.
While Northam may not be the environmentally concerned Virginian’s first choice for lieutenant governor, he represents a candidate who environmentally concerned Virginians can work with to ensure that our environment is not disregarded for the ubiquitous quest of ‘economic growth’. The first thing we can do as Virginians who care about the environment is urge political candidates like Ralph Northam to start talking about the environment in terms that make its intrinsic worth clear.
Jackson, for instance, speaks as if refusing to dig anymore coal out of the ground has no value in and of itself. Just as the government has put a value on an individual life, the environment can also be valued in a similar way. But Democratic representatives in Virginia have been slow to embrace the idea that the environment is more than a foundation for productive units. Members of Virginia’s Democratic Party have also fallen in the “economic development” dogma regarding nature, a similar framework for viewing environmental worth that many within Virginia’s Republican Party share. That is, the environment is only as good as its tangible economic benefits.
There is nothing wrong in believing a healthy environment is a ‘stand alone’ good. For E.W. Jackson and his republican running mates, however, the environment appears as little more than a stepping stone that is either limitless, unimportant, or both. It is the ultimate irony that the economic growth that political candidates like Jackson claim to so ardently support is ultimately undermined by their careless political positions towards the environment.