Saturday, July 12, 2008

Energy Crisis? What Energy Crisis?

Stop the presses! Green groups are suing to block natural gas drilling on Colorado’s Roan Plateau, trying to nullify in court more than eight years of public process that didn’t turn out the way they liked. Read more about it at

Actually, such stories are today so commonplace they hardly count as "news." On any given week, I could find half a dozen similar ones to post here. Just this week, while perusing headlines, I saw reports about an effort to block the expansion of an oil refinery in the Midwest, and stop a coal-fired power plant in New Mexico.

And then some Americans wonder why we’re in an energy crisis.

Does anyone at this point doubt that the ultimate (though unstated) aim of environmentalists is to create a false scarcity of energy supplies in the U.S., as a way of driving up costs to the point where Americans will have to give up our allegedly wasteful, greedy, environmentally-incorrect lifestyles? It should by now be obvious. No realistic energy solution -- except possibly wind power, as long as the turbines don't kill raptors or obstruct anyone's "view corridor"-- passes the green litmus test.

Coal, oil, oil shale, natural gas and all other fossil fuels are the devil's spawn. Nuclear is too scary. Hydro means hardship for spawning fish. Terminals for the import of liquefied natural gas disturb sea life and might become targets for terrorists. Geothermal could be okay, as long as it doesn't disturb "pristine" landscapes -- though every place a federal drilling or mineral lease is proposed turns out to be "pristine." Woody biomass has potential, but don't look to overgrown, disease- and wildfire-ravaged federal forests as a fuel source: that might re-open the door to logging. Everywhere sensible people turn for an answer, the answer from a fanatical minority is "no."

"Conservation" is their one word rejoinder to all our energy quandaries. But two excellent recent books, Robert Bryce's "Gusher of Lies" and the "The Bottomless Well" by Peter Huber and Mark Mills, offer potent reality checks on that silly and simplistic notion.

The Roan Plateau drilling debate has been going on for at least eight years. All the studies have been done, and the public hearings held; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has painstakingly weighed input from various "stakeholders" (even though the public process itself is skewed to benefit professional activists and narrow interest groups).

But four or five years ago saving the pristine and precious Roan (a place that no one ever heard of before drilling was proposed) suddenly became a cause celebre -- it became the ANWR of the Rocky Mountain region. And because BLM's process didn't result in a no-drilling decision, which is the only outcome extremists would tolerate, politicians began trying to monkey-wrench things at the behest of the zero-drilling crowd. And as has now become routine, these groups now are suing to overturn a BLM plan that was carefully-considered and sensible. This will for many more years delay this natural gas from coming to market (if it doesn't kill the plan outright). And it has to serve as another disincentive to domestic drilling, since energy suppliers have to weigh the possibility that their next project will become another Roan Plateau.

In the midst of an energy crisis, when the U.S. economy is absorbing potentially staggering body blows and Americans are feeling the pinch, one might think that the energy obstructionists would back off a bit, take a breather, decide that discretion is the better part of valor. But these aren't reasonable (or humanitarian) people. They are dangerous ideologues bent on re-making society according to Utopian dictates, using obstructionism, litigation, indoctrination and political intimidation to get their way.

Greens and their political allies are significantly responsible for the energy fix we're in. But average Americans have trouble fingering the real culprit, and misdirect their wrath at hated “big oil,” because they're totally disconnected from reality, believe their quality of life is a grant from heaven, and no longer see the link between regulatory causes and economic/consumer effects. Until Americans re-connect those dots -- until American consumers become the defenders of America's besieged producers -- there can be little hope of regaining our collective sanity and countering the green menace.

Let's recap.

Greens don't want an energy policy that works. They want to put the United States on a low-energy diet in order to remake society according to their own specifications. And if creating an energy crisis cripples an allegedly unjust capitalistic system, all the better. They'll be killing two birds (not endangered birds, of course) with one stone. Environmentalism is about economics even more than ecology. Birds and bunnies and polar bears just serve as heartwarming window dressing.

Postscript: It's Monday, only a day after originally posting this, and I'm already well on my way to reading this week's quota of energy obstructionism stories. Here's one from the Associated Press. Here's another. I'll post others as I see them. This Houston Chronicle story details some of the hurdles facing oil shale development, including the fact that "Democrats have barred the Bureau of Land Management from leasing any federal land forcommercial-scale oil shale projects." Here a judge -- responding to a lawsuit -- blocks a drilling project in Michigan.

Maybe I should start a website called Energy Obstructionism News; there would never be a loss of stories to post. I can't wait to see what the rest of the week might bring.

Wednesday brought this story in the Denver Post.

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