Environmentalists vs. Alternative Energy

As energy prices skyrocket, so does inflation. Our personal budgets, as well as our national economy, are shriveling up. While all Americans feel the pain of higher fuel prices, and most understand the correlation between energy prices and the inflation that’s eroding their buying power and chipping away at their standard of living, not nearly as many recognize the potential impact of energy dependence on national security. Much of the world’s oil is controlled by forces that are hostile to us. Our precarious energy position makes us very vulnerable.

We need to produce more energy at home. There are two reasons we aren’t doing that today. The first reason is the cost of R&D. The U.S. has a lot of shale oil, but it’s expensive to extract. However, with the prices of oil on the global market today, it’s getting to the point where the return will justify the investment. The other reason we aren’t producing more energy is counterproductive regulations and endless litigation brought about by environmental groups.

There may be enormous reserves of oil in ANWR, but we need to do exploratory drilling to find out where they are and assess how much oil there is. Environmentalists have stymied any attempt to do that, because it might disturb the polar bears. Other countries are taking full advantage of off-shore drilling but our government won’t permit that, because it might disturb the rich and powerful environmental lobbies that help our legislators get reelected.

The environmentalists claim they oppose drilling for oil because they favor alternative energy sources that are cleaner and safer for the environment. But it turns out that the greatest opposition to alternative energy production comes from environmental groups!

Wind power is about as clean as you can get. Environmentalists used to promote it but, once massive wind farms became a reality, environmentalist groups all over the country sprang up with injunctions and litigation to shut them down because of their impact on birds, bats, and even ground squirrels.

Hydroelectric power is another source of clean energy that environmentalists used to tout. But now they want to blow up dams, and have successfully lobbied and litigated to have dams removed, at tremendous taxpayer expense, because of their impact on fish habitats.

Natural gas burns cleaner, with lower emissions than petroleum products, and even the Sierra Club initially came out in favor of it. Yet, all over the country, wherever drilling for natural gas is undertaken, or a natural gas pipeline is proposed to be built, environmentalists rear up in litigation because of speculation about the potential harmful consequences of potential leaks.

Geothermal power is an interesting concept, because it’s clean and safe and permanent. It doesn’t vary with the weather, and it can never be depleted. Yet, the Sierra Club’s Juniper Group is litigating to prevent an exploratory project for development of a geothermal plant on a 5-acre parcel outside Oregon’s Newberry Crater, which is one of the most promising geothermal resources in the world. There is no specific threat to the environment or habitat of any particular species. They’re just concerned that having the project so close to a national monument might have a potential impact on forests or wildlife.

There are many more examples of environmentalists opposing alternative energy. But what does it all mean? They tout alternative energy until it starts to become a reality, and then they start backpedaling and litigating to thwart it. Is it just because they can’t accept the idea that any kind of energy production will necessarily entail environmental tradeoffs? (See What Have Progressives Got Against Progress?) Or is there some other agenda that motivates them to try to block every avenue of energy independence? I believe many of them are simply naive, and haven’t thought it through. But the consequences of their good intentions affect us all.

About the Author

NotYourDaddy is a conservative libertarian who believes in free will and the free market. NYD thinks the role of the government is to protect the rights and liberties of its citizens. Stop there.

NYD’s attitude toward ever-expanding government can best be summed up by snarling “Get your hand out of my pocket and leave me alone!”

Visit NotYourDaddy’s blog at Government is Not Your Daddy.

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