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February 10, 2012

The Real Anti-Energy Agenda: The NYT’s Joe Nocera Finds It Out

February 10, 2012
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Anti-energy environmental groups, ensconced in Washington, DC, have a vastly different agenda from the one embraced by the great majority of consumers, voters, and taxpayers in North America.

Instead of working to create prosperity and greater wealth for a better environment, far too many special-interest groups are working to artificially restrain natural marketplace economics. Witness the intense opposition of groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to a shovel-ready trans-national oil pipeline that sellers and buyers have executed contracts to build.

Nocera Looks at Keystone

New York Times editorialist Joe Nocera recently looked under the hood of the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport Canadian oil sands from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. And here is what he wrote in the Times:

As it turns out, the environmental movement doesn’t just want to shut down Keystone.  Its real goal, as I discovered when I spoke recently to Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, is much bigger. “The effort to stop Keystone is part of a broader effort to stop the expansion of the tar sands,” Brune said.  “It is based on choking off the ability to find markets for tar sands oil.”

Nocera calls out such a mentality as destructive and futile.

This is a ludicrous goal. If it were to succeed, it would be deeply damaging to the national interest of both Canada and the United States.  But it has no chance of succeeding.  Energy is the single most important industry in Canada. Three-quarters of the Canadian public agree with the Harper government’s diversification strategy. China’s “thirst” for oil is hardly going to be deterred by the Sierra Club. And the Harper government views the continued development of the tar sands as a national strategic priority.

It is a sign of desperation that Keystone XL has become a cause célèbre for the critics of modern industrial society and requisite dense energy (oil, gas, and coal). One could only wish that the same effort was being directed against a much bigger problem: industrial wind turbines that both leave taxpayers poorer and pristine environs compromised.

Malthusian Gloom

Limits-to-growth environmentalists wish to impose artificial restraints on economic growth and trade to save us from ourselves. This has been dogma for decades. Consider this statement from 1977 written by current Obama science advisor John Holdren along with Paul Ehrlich, “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States.” They continued, “This effort must be largely political.”

Holdren appears to be keeping a very low profile at the White House. But in the past he (and Paul and Anne Ehrlich) paid homage to the gloomy worldview of Thomas Robert Malthus, who centuries ago saw “misery or vice” for man in a world of insufficient means.

“We find ourselves firmly in the neo-Malthusian camp,” the three wrote back in 1977. “We hold this view not because we believe the world to be running out of materials in an absolute sense, but rather because the barriers to continued material growth, in the form of problems of economics, logistics, management, and environmental impact, are so formidable.”

Well, now we find so-called environmentalists creating the very barriers to expanding resources that they once predicted would occur naturally.

Kudos to Joe Nocera for taking a fresh look at this buffoonery in his column. Let it be a wakeup call to the foes of North American energy in a world that will use our energy whether domestic politics allows it or not.


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