At the WPost today
, Dan Morgan contributes an excellent analysis of what he calls the "agracrats," Democratic members of Congress from traditional farm states such as Iowa or Minnesota. As Morgan notes, these representatives have been an influential force in first opposing and then fundamentally altering climate change legislation, fearing as Morgan describes that "the cap and trade measures would increase fuel and fertilizer costs for farmers, hurt coal-burning rural electric utilities and leave the Midwest's thriving biofuels industry vulnerable to regulatory restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency."
The case of Agracrats is another example of why it's wrong to reduce science-related policy debates down to a matter of anti-science versus pro-science, champions versus deniers. If these members of Congress were Republicans, there's little doubt that liberal bloggers would be waving the bloody shirt
of a "war on science.
" Yet as this case shows, it's rare that any policy decision is a simple matter of following the science. Instead the options considered and the decisions eventually made are almost always a matter of values and trade-offs.