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The global economy depends on available, affordable energy. Many place their hopes for abundant energy supplies in yet-to-be-imagined technologies.
But while researchers tinker with far-off possibilities, there's something we should do right now to keep our primary energy sources flowing—break the radical environmentalists' chokehold on national energy policy.
Regardless of form—oil, gas, coal or nuclear—the Green movement is blocking efforts to harness our accustomed energy sources while leading us down the primrose path of so-called “renewable energy.”
First, we're not running out of oil. “Notwithstanding the recent paucity of discoveries of new major oil fields, innovation has proved adequate to meet ever-rising demands for oil,” wrote Alan Greenspan last October in Middle East Economic Survey.
“Gross additions to reserves have significantly exceeded the extraction of oil the reserves replaced,” added Mr. Greenspan. These new reserves don't include unconventional oil sources, including the vast Canadian tar sands and Venezuelan heavy oil.
Nevertheless environmentalists hinder efforts to obtain that oil—witness, for example, their fight against drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Environmentalists are whipping up Floridians against the offshore drilling provisions in the current energy bill in Congress, forcing Republican Sen. Mel Martinez to defy Senate leadership and kowtow to activists.
“Any weakening of protections currently in place off <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Florida's coasts is unacceptable,” says Mr. Martinez, echoing the anti-drilling position of environmental groups.
Green opposition to increased oil production is international. Acting through such diverse groups as Amnesty International and Christian Brothers Investment Services, activists harass oil company BP about its $3.2 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
The recent increase in gasoline prices is only partly due to higher demand from developing countries like China and India. Price spikes have also been fueled by failure of U.S. refining capability to keep pace with demand. No new gasoline refinery has opened since 1976—thanks to unnecessarily strict government rules and community opposition, both tirelessly orchestrated by the environmental movement.
There's also plenty of natural gas—if the Greens would let us have it.
As spotlighted recently by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, environmentalists “have successfully pushed moratoriums for most new offshore drilling of the fuel, have fought to keep the most gas-rich federal lands off-limits to exploration, and have used lawsuits to tie up those pieces that are accessible.”
Greens also obstruct liquefied natural gas imports by blocking construction of new port facilities based on fears they would be terrorist targets.
Coal is a cheap and abundant source of energy, but environmentalists make its use more difficult with hysterical claims burning coal releases “poisons” like mercury into the air. Environmentalists also oppose so-called “clean coal” technology on the grounds that, although less nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide are emitted, mercury emissions continue.
The reality is the vast majority of environmental mercury comes from natural sources and mercury emitted from coal burning power plants is not linked with detectable harm to human health or the environment.
As to nuclear power, environmentalist fearmongering has ensured no new nuclear power plant has been built since the 1970s. They're trying to shut down nuke plants in operation by blocking the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility in the Nevada desert, forcing nuclear plants to temporarily store waste in limited, politically unpopular on-site facilities.
General Electric, producer of nuclear power technology, hopes fears about global warming and energy supplies will interest the public and environmentalists in nuclear energy. No doubt GE hoped it was getting a Green ally in jointly announcing its recent “Ecomagination” initiative with the eco-activist World Resources Institute (WRI). Such hope is pretty naive, however.
WRI has worked more closely and a lot longer with anti-nuke groups like Environmental Defense and Greenpeace, which is trying to block a new nuclear power plant in Southern Maryland.
The energy crisis has arisen not because there's a lack of sufficiently clean and affordable energy supplies—our problem is we've allowed the Greens too much power.