02.25.2013 0

What do the Enviros Really want?

By Rick Manning — Nothing gets better press than those who claim to be environmentally friendly.  You have corporations trying to shower you with money to get off your bad guy target list, and foundations can’t shovel enough money in your direction as you crusade to save the earth.

But what do enviros really want?

From a domestic energy use standpoint, they don’t want the development of vast U.S. natural gas and oil fields using hydraulic fracturing.  This proven technique for gas and oil extraction threatens to make the U.S. oil and natural gas independent within the next decade, killing their alarmist chant about running out of so-called “fossil” fuels.

They don’t want nuclear, and have even worked to stop the development of places to safely store nuclear waste, preferring unsafe storage over a storage solution that makes the industry more viable.

They don’t want offshore oil drilling, or domestic drilling for that matter.

Many of them don’t want wind, as the giant windmills are killing fields for any birds that make the mistake of venturing into these chopping farms.  And if the good liberals in Hyannisport, Massachusetts are any indication, they certainly don’t want these towering eyesores potentially impacting their million dollar views.

Of course, enviros want solar power, but solar takes copper and a lot of it.  And, naturally, they oppose the development of a mine in a remote wasteland in Alaska that contains one of the largest copper deposits on earth, the very material needed to help create their green nirvana.

Enviros claim to believe that our world has one environment and that actions in the Brazilian rain forests impact the rest of the world.  Yet, actions by the U.S. environmental movement actually create much more pollution than they actually stop.

When the environmentalist push for something like a carbon tax for U.S. manufacturers and those who supply them the fuel to run their plants, by design they increase the cost of producing goods and services here in the United States.

As these costs increase, those who manufacture and produce goods have to make a decision on whether it remains cost effective to continue to make their products here in the U.S., or whether to move production elsewhere in the world.

In the case of the enviro supported carbon tax, the Heritage Foundation study by economists Nicolas Loris and David Kreutzer determined that this enviro tax would cut a family of four’s income by $1,400 annually and raise their utility bills by $500 a year.  Quite the pocketbook hit, and it doesn’t even include the increase in gasoline prices that are projected.

But the real irony is that the carbon tax would also cause some U.S. manufacturers of goods to move their production overseas to avoid the tax.  This is where it is reasonable to ask whether the enviro movement is really on the side of the environment or not.

It is no mystery that China has become one of the world’s largest manufacturing economies over the course of the past forty years since Nixon paid his famous visit to Mao.

It is also no mystery that China, particularly Beijing has followed in the footsteps of its former communist cohorts in eastern Europe in becoming one of the most heavily polluted areas in the world.

What does a potential U.S. carbon tax have to do with pollution in China?

China’s economic boom is almost entirely due to the lower cost of producing goods in the country.  While decreased labor costs certainly play a role, the high cost of doing business in the United States is another.  A carbon tax would just make our domestic costs higher, encouraging those who might be inclined to locate a factory in the U.S. to look elsewhere.

The ironic result of pushing a U.S. carbon tax is that the tax will likely cut carbon dioxide emissions in the United States while increasing them elsewhere.  And while doing so, it would likely have the added negative of causing an increase in manufacturing in parts of the world where spewing waste in the air is an accepted part of doing business.

The net effect is likely to be an increase in world-wide pollution.  If enviros truly believe that every eco-system affects one another, than a tax which results in a net increase in pollution should be opposed, and opposed vigorously.

If the enviro movement were serious about world-wide pollution, they would be ardent advocates for hydraulic fracturing, which is unleashing a natural gas reserve in our nation which has caused President Obama to call the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.”

The enviro movement would be decrying Obama Administration efforts to stop hydraulic fracturing and other energy exploration on federal lands as detrimental to the world environment.

But instead the enviro movement seeks to block “fracking” at every turn.  This, in spite of the fact that natural gas is a clean burning fuel that through abundance, can take over much of the power generation in the country based upon free market cost based decisions.

The virtuous cycle created by low cost energy ends with more goods produced in the United States due to it making financial sense to do so without any government mandates or involvement.

If the United States is producing more goods instead of high pollution tolerant environments like China, those goods will be produced in a more environmentally friendly way.  Those goods also won’t have the additional carbon footprint associated with transporting them across the Pacific Ocean to market.

This seeming win/win equation for both the environment and the U.S. economy escapes the professional, environmental protestors.

If you have any doubt about the sincerity of enviro leaders, one only has to look at their staunch opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, where environmental leaders would rather have Canadian oil refined and burned in China under significantly less stringent air quality guidelines than under the United States’ much more restrictive rules.

No rational person who claimed to support a clean earth could make that choice outside of the delusion that stopping the flow of the oil to the U.S. would stop the flow elsewhere.

If one is to assume that the enviro leaders are rational, it leads back to the original question, what do enviros really want?  Because clearly, it has nothing to do with a cleaner world-wide environment.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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