05.14.2014 0

Enviros attack markets to kill energy industry


By Rick Manning

The strategy has been obvious for a number of years, but rarely has it been so blatantly espoused as in an article by 350.org founder Bill McKibben in Politico Magazine where he attacks the development of a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal in suburban Maryland.

McKibben, who has been leading the effort to prevent the import of Canadian oil through his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, is now branching out to oppose U.S. export of LNG to European allies in need of an energy pipeline that isn’t controlled by Vladimir Putin.

The irony in the LNG terminal at Cove Point, Maryland is that it is an already functioning facility that currently imports gas for use in the United States. The burgeoning natural gas development in the United States has made the import of LNG unnecessary, and Dominion Energy which owns the plant, simply wants to reverse the flow from the already developed and safe facility.

But this is just a step too far for anti-energy warrior McKibben, who is opposed to the export of U.S. natural gas simply because he doesn’t like how it is legally extracted. With attempts to ban the extraction falling flat, the green guru has turned his attention to stopping the product from getting to markets making its production less profitable.

This is exactly the same strategy that the left is using on the west coast when it comes to building a coal export terminal in Washington State. Not content with forcing coal burning electric utilities out of business through EPA regulations driving demand for coal down significantly, anti-energy advocates are working to deny the export of low sulfur coal from the Rocky Mountains to Asian markets.

Make no mistake, this is not about saving the planet, as currently those Asian importer nations burn a coal with much higher sulfur content, meaning they generate more smog than the U.S. coal that is being denied them.

The issue is the same whether it be our northern (Keystone XL), western or eastern borders, if you can choke off energy from either coming in or leaving, you deny energy producers markets for their products and limit the very job creating activity that our nation so desperately needs.

This callous approach is a recognition that the energy revolution in America threatens to revitalize our nation’s economy, and the only way for environmentalists to stop it is to deny producers access to both domestic and foreign markets.

And as much as they wish to deny it, this attack on markets is destroying the good paying middle class jobs that used to personify America.

History is replete with environmentalists’ all-out war on oil, coal and now natural gas. Former Obama Energy Secretary Stephen Chu famously called for $9-10 a gallon gas in order to make other renewables price competitive with oil based fuels, no matter the impact on consumers’ pocketbooks.

The Hollywood left awarded a documentary on natural gas production whose big scene where drinking water catches fire was actually a naturally occurring phenomenon that predated natural gas development, but truth or not, it made for a great visual to persuade the uninformed.

And Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas producer, gave $27 million to the Sierra Club to fund its infamous Beyond Coal campaign pushing regulations to deny coal producers markets.   Note that this Sierra Club cash was collected when LNG was deemed a “good” fuel by environmentalists, prior to our nation’s energy industry unlocking the secret to a natural gas treasure. Now, after cashing the check, Sierra Club has adroitly moved beyond coal opposition to opposing natural gas as well, the very energy source that they previously hailed as a clean energy solution.

What changed?

The development by private industry of drilling techniques that have unleashed the massive natural gas reserves that our nation has been blessed with has created an abundance of energy, crowding out enviro favored renewables.

Anyone with any lingering illusions about the honesty of the environmental left and their support for a so-called “all of the above energy strategy” should be disabused by their opposition to switching the direction of the flow of LNG at Cove Point, Maryland.

There aren’t siting or safety issues as the plant already exists. The only issue is whether the product will be allowed to be shipped to markets around the world.

Environmentalists don’t care that the terminal employs Americans who pay mortgages, or that it will generate $40 million a year in revenues for the local county when the flow is reversed. Tax money spent on police, fire and education while keeping income draining property taxes low. They don’t care that it will increase the standard of living of everyone in the county and to some extent the entire state of Maryland as tax revenues to the state rise.

No, environmentalists only care about stopping domestic energy production at any cost.

That is market based environmentalism — a belief system that denies coal miners markets for their products preferring domestic brownouts and blackouts, and Asian smog alerts rather than allowing coal to be used as an energy source.

It is a belief system that shifted from supporting natural gas as a clean alternative to opposing it finding expanded markets the moment our nation became the largest producer in the world. If environmentalists truly believed what they preached about one world environment, they should welcome the export of this clean energy source, but instead they try every scare tactic in their arsenal to block it.

In fact, market based environmentalism is not market based at all. It is actually the ultimate anti-market movement, using the government as a tool to block products coming to market in an attempt to kill the American energy industry. They are using markets to destroy them.

At least now with their Cove Point opposition, this should be clear to all.

The author is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government, and a resident of Calvert County where the Cove Point plant is located.

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