No more influence peddling

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No more influence peddling

There is nothing new about environmental groups’ expression of divergent views on environmental issues. But their actions have reached a worrisome level as they now engage in showing off their power beyond the realm of taking different positions on issues like the four-river restoration project or nuclear energy.

Panelists from an anti-government environmental group argued in the National Assembly that its members should vote for opposition party candidates in the April 11 legislative elections to pressure them to rebuke the Lee Myung-bak administration’s push to develop the four river basins. Not only current members of the main opposition Democratic United Party but also liberal environmental activists participated in the event to express their support for opposition parties.

Other environmental groups from a pan-national committee against the four-river development projects went so far as to announce the names of lawmakers who voted for the four-rivers project, demanding that each political party drop those names for the legislative elections.

Such images of the liberal environmental groups remind us of what a civic coalition for general elections did in 2000 and 2004. As the public uproar erupted over their campaign to stigmatize conservative legislators in the elections, they couldn’t even focus on the environmental movement.

Environmental activists from the conservative camp are no exception. Despite their identity as environmentalists, they were criticized for only retweeting what the four-river development authorities told the public. Rightist environmental groups have held a symposium on the future of the four-rivers and energy development at a banquet hall in downtown Seoul in order to launch a pro-environment campaign by creating new jobs while recruiting 100,000 members to address the issue of climate change through nuclear energy.

Of course, they are allowed to express their views. As it turns out, however, most of the participants at the event were elementary, middle and high school students, and it was sponsored by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, a state-run company. The right-wing environmental group can hardly escape mounting criticism that it attempted to mobilize young students under the auspices of a government-run company. It is utterly regrettable that our environmental groups prefer to demonstrate their political clout instead of pursuing their original mission.

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