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Shipping Jobs to Oblivion
The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and other environmental watchdogs have joined the transportation industry. However, instead of moving goods, the activist groups are shipping jobs from the US to oblivion. Ports are vital to the U.S. economy. More than 95% of cargo from outside North America arrives by ship. Despite the importance of trade to the American economy, NRDC and other activist organizations are working with local NIMBY groups to block the expansion of port facilities.

Although environmental concerns have been cited by the watchdog groups as their motivation, a closer examination shows that some less noble issues may be playing an important role in the controversies.

According to a story originally appearing in The Wall Street Journal, NRDC has "teamed up with residents to halt the opening of a $97 million terminal finished more than a year ago." Among the group's demands are that the Los Angeles "port install special cranes to preserve views of the harbor." Now Winston appreciates a good view as much as anyone. However, Winston also knows that the folks who usually have nice harbor views often tend to live in the higher rent districts. Of course it would be a complete coincidence if the citizens who enjoy nice harbor views were not the people who jobs were at risk because of closed or inadequate port facilities. Just as it would be is a coincidence if these same harbor view-enjoying citizens included persons who, on occasion, donated tidy sums to groups such as NRDC.

The effort to block construction of a new port near Savannah, Georgia also helps illustrate some the deep concerns underlying opposition to these facilities. An official with Sierra Club is quoted as saying that the proposed new port would turn the Savannah River into "a strip mall for maritime interests." Well, no wonder environmental watchdogs are opposing new port facilities, strip malls are just so tacky. Winston is glad to know that environmental groups are fighting for what's really important, good taste and pleasing views that are not obstructed by the sight of people who actually have to work for a living.

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