How Greeniacs Destroy the Environment

by Paul Driessen

The US Supreme Court recently ruled 7-2 to reverse a lower court ruling invalidating a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will bring West Virginia natural gas to Virginia and North Carolina, for home heating, factory power, electricity generation and manufacturing petrochemical feedstocks.

Environmentalists had claimed the U.S. Forest Service had no authority to issue the permit, because a 0.1-mile (530-foot) segment would cross 600 feet below the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail, which is administered by the National Park Service. Justice Thomas’s majority opinion scuttled that assertion.

Pipeline project developers Dominion Resources and Duke Energy should receive the USFS and other permits relatively soon – and have the pipeline in operation by early 2022 – unless a Biden administration takes over in 2021 (with AOC as woke climate and energy advisor to Biden and Democrats) and imposes Green New Deal bans on drilling, fracking, pipelines, and eventually any use of natural gas, oil and coal.

Meanwhile, environmentalist groups plan more lawsuits. They insist the pipeline would put rivers and streams at risk of increased sedimentation, scar pristine landscapes, and harm sensitive species.

These plans and assertions underscore how inflexible they have become in opposing any US fossil fuel use. How incapable of recognizing or rationally discussing the far greater human and ecological impacts from energy systems they favor. How reliant on blatant double standards and mob rule, instead of on rational, cohesive, persuasive discussion.

Barely a few years ago, the Sierra Club and allied groups gladly took $187 million and more from Michael Bloomberg, natural gas producers and other financiers to wage their War on Coal. Having closed down most US coal mines and power plants, they then turned gas from a “climate friendly bridge fuel” to evil incarnate. Today they want  to end fossil fuel use nationwide. Via delusion, incantation and cancellation of debate, they have convinced themselves that wind, solar, battery and biofuel “alternatives” are somehow “clean, green, renewable and sustainable.” Reality says otherwise.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be underground, mostly invisible beneath a grassy right-of-way. Any sedimentation will occur during short term construction operations, when some wildlife will be scared off or displaced for a spell. Any threat to sensitive species, even in the event of a leak, will be minimal.

In stark contrast, their preferred energy systems will have massive, permanent impacts – in Virginia and far beyond its borders. Virginia solar panels will blanket more than eight times the land area of Washington, DC. Hundreds of 850-foot-tall bird-killing wind turbines will create an enormous obstacle course for whales, ships and planes off the Virginia Beach coast. Many thousands of 1,200-pound batteries will provide backup power to replace coal and solar for a sunless, windless day or two.

Hundreds of miles of new transmission lines will soar into the sky and snake across the countryside. Just bringing wind-based electricity from West Virginia to Blacksburg, Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia – and solar energy from all those Virginia panels to Staunton and Harrisonburg – will require several new transmission lines across the Appalachian Trail. Not 600 feet below it; right across it.

But somehow, we and our courts are supposed to believe, all these enormous industrial facilities – and the blasting, tree clearing, machinery, noise and other impacts associated with building and maintaining them – will cause no stream sedimentation, landscape scarring or harm to sensitive species.

In reality, the radical greens, utility companies and Democrats promoting these projects under the Virginia “Clean” Economy Act will simply demand that courts ignore the arguments they raised and environmental laws they cited when they raged against coal and gas power plants and the pipelines and transmission lines associated with them. They’ll demand that citizen groups opposed to these monstrous wind, solar and battery complexes be thrown out of court. They’ll want the same double standards applied nationally.

Eliminating fossil fuels would mean America would have to replace 100% of its gasoline and all its oil and natural gas feed stocks for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers – and plastics for cell phones, computers, car bodies, packaging, wind turbine blades, solar panel films and countless other products. That would require turning some 700 million acres of food crop and habitat land (four times the land area of Texas) into biofuel corn, sugarcane and canola plantations for ethanol and biodiesel.

More extreme versions of the Green New Deal would eliminate coal, gas and nuclear electricity and backup power, gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and internal combustion vehicles. We’d replace it all with wind or solar – and use wind or solar on good days to generate enough extra electricity to charge batteries for seven windless, sunless days. That’s 8.5 billion megawatts – twice what we used in 2018!

We’d need some 75 billion solar panels … or 4.2 million 1.8-MW onshore wind turbines … or 320,000 10-MW offshore wind turbines … and some 3.5 billion 100-kWh backup batteries. The concrete, steel, copper, lithium, rare earth elements, aluminum, cobalt, plastic and other materials to build them would require vastly more mining and manufacturing than the world has ever seen – nearly all of it with fossil fuels.

Environmentalists oppose almost all mining anywhere in the United States, and even by U.S. companies operating overseas under rigorous Western rules. That means essential metals and minerals get mined and processed in places like Baotou, Inner Mongolia, Bolivia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly under Chinese control, under minimal to nonexistent labor, wage, environmental, reclamation, and worker health and safety regulations. The mining and industrial areas have become vast toxic wastelands.

For cobalt alone, over 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four years old, slave away alongside their parents in mines, for a dollar a day, risking cave-ins and being exposed constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air. That’s today – for today’s battery, solar panel and wind turbine needs. Imagine how many would be needed to serve the Green New Deal. 400,000 perhaps? 4,000,000?

China alone will soon have 200 times more coal-fired generation than Virginia will be shutting down. During 2020, says consulting company Wood Mackenzie, Europe and the United States will close down 22,000 megawatts of coal-fired power capacity – even as Asia opens 49,000 megawatts of new coal-fired power plants, on top of those it already has and in addition to its growing fleet of gas-fired units.

China is building or financing numerous coal and gas power plants in Africa and Asia. India already has hundreds of coal-fired units and is building or planning 400 more. China and India are also building or planning hundreds of new airports, and putting millions of new cars and trucks on their roads. That (plus the Green New Deal mining, processing and manufacturing) means, even if Virginia or the entire USA eliminated all fossil fuel use tomorrow – it wouldn’t make an iota of difference for global carbon dioxide levels.

These environmental and human rights travesties can happen only under a system of rampant double standards: the same kinds that excoriate and ban religious services and funerals, anti-lockdown protests and Trump rallies – while permitting, excusing and praising Black Lives Matter marches that have too often turned into anti-police mobs, riots, looting, arson, beatings, and murders of people like David Dorn and Patrick Underwood, whose also precious black lives certainly haven’t mattered much to this crowd.

They also require that the woke Campus Cancel Culture spread its intolerant, authoritarian rule to our cities, media, social media, and even legislative bodies and courts – to instill constant anger and anarchy, and silence, defame and punish anyone who dares to offer nuanced or contrarian viewpoints. Every victory brings new demands, with no accountability for the mayhem and destruction they inflict.

Why should rural, poor, minority and working class families and communities have to accept the ecological, health and economic damages inflicted in pursuit of this pseudo-renewable energy utopia? Why should Africans, Asians and Latin Americans have to accept slave status to advance this agenda?

The situation is coming to a head. Let’s hope the now-silent majority can restore law, order, civil debate, thoughtful reflection on our complex history, and rational resolution of these thorny problems.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues. This article was republished with permission of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

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49 responses to “How Greeniacs Destroy the Environment

  1. Let me guess: Ginsberg & Sotomayor?

    • Oops. I owe Justice Ginsberg an apology – it was Kagen and Sotomayor.

    • The court decision did not rest on environmental issues, although Sotomayor tried to bring those in with her dissent. The main issue was whether the Appalachian Trail was comprised of physical land under the ownership of the National Park Service or was a “right-of-way” easement provided by the Forest Service through its lands. Justice Thomas and six other Justices ruled that it was a right-of-way and thus the Forest Service still had ownership rights, which included issuing a permit for an underground pipeline. After reading the opinions carefully, I have to agree with the majority opinion.

  2. Hampton Roads doesn’t have enough natural gas. not even close.

    Remember when the military was directed to switch to clean natural gas and away from oil and coal as the sources for its power and heating needs? Well, the military services did it at great cost, but it was the right thing to do. The greens were pleased. Briefly.

    As one small example, in an effort to reduce energy use, the US Navy in 2012 converted from steam to natural gas heating for facilities at Naval Station Norfolk and demolished 29,000 linear feet of above ground steam lines. The cost was $12 million.

    Now on many days of maximum demand in the winter, Virginia Natural Gas reduces the volumes provided to large consumers, including the military bases.

    The solution to that shortage is the Atlantic Coast pipeline. Now the greens want to deny that source.

    It is not one of the announced goals of the greens to drive the military out of Hampton Roads. But I am sure they will gladly take that outcome.

    On one hand it will cut the population of the region by more than half, but on the other we will have space for more parks.

    And we won’t need nearly so much natural gas.

    • Last year,Virginia Natural Gas testified to the SCC that it resold its excess pipeline capacity to other businesses. That isn’t an indication of lacking enough natural gas in the region.

      The US Department of Defense is one of the organizations that is leading the way toward a modern energy economy. At Naval Air Base Oceana, near Virginia Beach, they undertook a project requiring no upfront investment that provided more reliable operation at considerably reduced energy use that is saving the base over $6 million per year.

      Similar projects in the Hampton Roads region could greatly increase local employment and reduce energy costs.

      Currently, the region is exposed to paying $3 billion over 20-years for capacity from the ACP. An investment of this size could be used much more productively to reduce energy costs rather than raise them, aiding economic activity in the region and making it more attractive for federal installations.

    • “As one small example, in an effort to reduce energy use, the US Navy in 2012 converted from steam to natural gas heating for facilities at Naval Station Norfolk and demolished 29,000 linear feet of above ground steam lines. The cost was $12 million.”

      Why? Couldn’t they continue to create steam with natural gas versus oil/coal? Certainly, NOB and Little Creek had full knowledge of gas availability at the time. It’s not like they didn’t know that installing a network of gas furnaces would either use more, or less, than the current steam plants.

      Obviously, there had to have been a cost analysis that considered 100s of alternatives, e.g., cost of steam distribution modernization vs all new natural gas distribution, etc., but seriously, did they not know the available supply of gas? Or, did they just accept VNG saying, “Meh, use all you want, we’ll get more”?

      Why is it that so many government projects have as the long pole solution, “and then a miracle occurs…”?

  3. Very well done story. Thank you.

    Adding renewables to the U.S. energy supply is desirable and needed. However, the Green New Deal’s opposition to ANYTHING other than wind, solar, or the totally infeasible biomass is absolutely inane and so far out of touch with the realm of possibility that it undermines any of their arguments. Most germane in my opinion is their opposition to nuclear power. It is the only large scale energy source capable of replacing fossil fuels….and it is totally green. But the myopia and intransigence of the AOCs and others their arguments hollow.

  4. Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow? Let me look. Ah yes!
    Here’s what the “greeniacs” say:

    https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Committee_for_a_Constructive_Tomorrow
    https://exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=25
    https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/committee-constructive-tomorrow-cfact-org/

    So, we have lots of Koch money and donations from Exxon/Mobile, Peabody coal and Murphy Coal.
    A few other comments: coal production in the U.S. has been most impacted by the glut of natural gas from frackibng, not the environmentalists.
    It is true that there will be a surge in demand for rare earth matter, but a lot of that is for 5G cell phones along with batteries.
    I find the “poor minorities will be hit hardest” if the ACP isn’t built to be amusing. For another view, consider these two articles:

    https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/environmental-injustice-at-heart-of-union-hill-gathering
    https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article184597888.html

    You realize that I am just offering an alternative view, of course!

    • The environmental justice crowd is all about sustainability — sustained poverty, especially for people who would greatly benefit from jobs dependent on energy. Should the ACP go away, don’t expect those folks to be back in Union Hill with counter proposals to build some tax base in that county. They will fly to the next battleground.

      • That’s where most people do not understand the groups and diverse coalition of people who are fighting. They try to put all of us into simple boxes they select (usually only environmentalist – which represents part but by no means all) and fail to learn of the diversity and deep roots of those they want to take advantage of and sacrifice “for the good of all.”

        There are already folks who are working on bringing more sustainable – less risky and more environmentally sound jobs AND necessary infrastructure including broadband to Union Hill and other areas affected by pipelines. We do not believe the touted benefits of the chosen path will ever occur because fossil fuels endanger everyone. Part of what is being said is we want a different future and we’re willing to help build it. Others of us remind you we were working toward a different future but the pipeline interrupts/destroys OUR plans for OUR land and the opportunities and jobs those represent. Those who are doing this will not stop even if the pipeline isn’t built. Meet Richard Walker, for example who is among those working on new opportunities in multiple ways. Talk with the real leaders of our struggle.

        A number of us have committed to continuing to work to get the laws and regulations changed to be fair to landowners and communities and give people back incentive to seek their American Dream. Right now the game is stacked against us so that it’s hard to believe that we claim to live in a democracy and the incentive to build something no longer exists. My family business is proof that you can invest generations toward a goal only to have a big business come along and undermine everything. The system allowed them to totally ignore our goals and our long time use of our own property. I am among those committed to spending the rest of my life and whatever resources are necessary fighting for fairness to landowners to restore the American Dream.

        Few who have not experienced what we have over the past 6 or so years understand or even try to understand. The problem is, what we’re experiencing now could be you when the next big project comes along. Helping us could ultimately help you hang on to your American Dream. Win or lose, we’re committed to fundamental change for the good of all.

        Scoff at this if you want, I am sure some reading this will. Someday folks will realize what a monster they created by ignoring us and taking our dreams. Until change occurs, others will join us as they sadly repeat our experiences. I have to believe that ultimately fair American values will win out just to live through the devastation of recognizing that the America I thought existed since 17176 does not. Today only a few can truly successfully achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because our eminent domain laws have been perverted to serve the few and take from all others. Property rights are central values of our country and must be restored. Everyone deserves a fair chance.

    • As opposed to Tom Steyer money, a lot of which came from fossil fuels. He even made big bucks from private prisons.

  5. There are indeed folks on the far left – and there are folks on the fossil-fuel right but not much is said of most of the folks that are somewhere in the middle or this – both Dems and GOP.

    This includes a bunch of corporations who want to cut their energy use and cut their fossil fuel use.

    New, safer nukes are coming along and the newer designs can operate in concert with wind/solar (unlike the existing older designs).

    I don’t know the economics of the new nukes but pretty sure they’re more expensive than wind/solar and gas…

    One major technology breakthrough will change everything –

    oh.. and “bird killing” ? yes.. from the same fellow talking about “radical” folks on the left – he makes that dubious argument which I think undercuts his credibility also.

    ?1485555903

  6. Paul Driessen is also a former environmentalist, now passionate anti-environmentalist, promoter of the concept of “eco-imperialism”, and is a member of the pro-fossil fuel Heartland Institute.

    But that does not mean his positions are all wrong. In fact, he and Michael Moore (and me) agree that the Environmental movement of the last 50 years has failed – but not for the reasons he cites or others with similar views cite.

    It has failed because it has not addressed the underlying issues of our energy-dependent, growth-forever only GDP matters economy.

    Nate Hagens (and many others) have written and spoken about these issues and we will only begin to have a “rational, cohesive, persuasive discussion” when we put ALL the issues on the table – the nature of our economic-energy systems, as constructed in the 20th century, and what we need to do moving forward to continue to achieve prosperity for the many at a sustainable level. Once we are ready to have that discussion, then we can talk.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-environmentalism
    https://www.heartland.org/about-us/who-we-are/paul-driessen
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800919310067
    https://www.energyandourfuture.org/
    https://steadystate.org/
    https://un-denial.com/2019/08/08/by-nate-hagens-reality-101-short-courses/

    • Wake me up when that happens, sir. I actually don’t expect such a rational approach to return in my lifetime. We’ll need to hit the wall first. And there are parts of the world (India, China, Africa) working their tails off to get to the energy-dependent lifestyle we in the West are so attached to. So if CO2 really is the culprit, this is over.

      • Steve, obviously, you don’t understand. It’s the moral obligation of the United States not only to reduce our emissions but to offset the actions of the Indians, Chinese and Africans.

  7. POTUS and 5 at-risk Republican Senators 2020
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrz14di0jzo

    Lindsey Graham… Wow, the worm turns.

  8. Currently, the ACP is missing 8 critical permits. It cannot be built without all of them:
    1) US Fish and Wildlife permit to harm or kill endangered species
    2) US Forest Service Special Use Permit to cross national forests
    3) Va Air pollution control board permit to allow air pollution at the Union Hill compressor station
    4) US National Park Service – to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway
    5) 4 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits to construct across streams. There are huge problems with the Nationwide Permit 12 for this project and others.

    Damage from construction of the MVP reinforces the concerns of many.

    A large part of why we’re at the point we are is that the process pressed along, ignoring the concerns of the people (landowners and others). Granted, the Trump Administration is trying to undermine all the protections provided people, animals, and nature, but there are serious issues beneath the missing permits. The industry controls so much and has the upper hand in most situations so it has become accustomed to taking short cuts and hiding critical information. It often pushes forward no matter what so that infrastructure is built and in service before the opposition has a chance. The system is rigged so that the peoples’ hands and often legs, are tied behind our backs until it is too late. We may be reaching a point where these policies that only benefit few are not accepted any more.

    • Which permit indemnifies them and will allow it to leak and/or explode because of poor maintenance; because it will, they all do.

      • None of these – but PHMSA’s oversight once it’s built does. It’s a whole package. Very strange that the safety folks aren’t really involved until it’s in operation and FERC has no real role after it’s in operation.

      • Poor maintenance (of anything) seems to be endemic to Virginia. Consider vehicle maintenance…the average Virginian’s idea of vehicle maintenance is punching out the catalytic converter when it clogs up (rather, than, say, doing the maintenance required to keep the engine running correctly so it doesn’t destroy the catalytic converter).

        It’s why we need safety inspections in this state. The average Virginian cannot be trusted to spend their money on vehicle maintenance instead of cigarettes, beer, and lotto tickets.

  9. The author makes a lot of good points that need to be addressed by environmentalists–preferably in the rational discussion that Jim Loving described. I wish the author had left all the ad hominen attacks–they only detract from his best arguments.

    I think the author seriously understates the environmental impacts of the pipeline.

    As for the economic need for a pipeline. TomH has demonstrated frequently on this blog that there is a glut of natural gas now that will continue until a couple of decades in the future and, furthermore, the pipeline infrastructure currently in place can handle any increased need. For another source on this lack of need, see https://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Atlantic-Coast-Pipeline_January-2019.pdf.

  10. Somehow, I do not see union hill as benefitting from ACP spin-off jobs.

  11. Burns my tail that so many crony-conservatives could are less about Other Peoples Property Rights (in regards to the private land on which this and other utilities projects are built.) There’s no better example of the Regulatory Capture enabled by Big Government then Utility Companies.

  12. Environmentalists are interested in one thing and one thing only, raising money by selling illusions. They have little regard for the economic consequences of their policies or the fact that they contribute little to economic growth and shrinking income inequality. This pipeline makes both environmental sense and is cost-effective. Taking advantage of the abundance natural gas will lead to fewer GHGs and will do more than solar and wind to provide reliable and low cost power.

    • So many broad statements and accusations in this comment with no evidence to back them up. Let me take just one of them: This pipeline…is cost-effective. First, the only reason that it may be cost effective is because Dominion’s ratepayers may be stuck with having to pay unnecessarily high electric bills for decades. Second, there is growing belief that it does not make financial sense. For one discussion of this, see: https://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Atlantic-Coast-Pipeline_January-2019.pdf.

    • Bill,

      I would appreciate hearing more about what leads you to believe the ACP is cost-effective. Many share that opinion, but I cannot find any information that substantiates it. Based on information the ACP filed with the federal regulator and adjusted for the current estimate for the price of the pipeline, utilities that have committed to reserve capacity on the ACP will be obligated to pay a total of $30 billion over 20 years, whether they use all of their reservation or not.

      Nearly 80% of the ACP was supposed to be for new power plants. More than half of the plants originally proposed have been canceled. Perhaps none of those still on the drawing board in North Carolina will be approved.

      In last year’s Fuel Factor hearing, the SCC ruled that Dominion had sufficient pipeline capacity to supply all of its current gas-fired generating fleet. In late April, Dominion informed the SCC that building new gas-fired units in Virginia “is no longer viable.” Yet, Dominion’s utility still plans on passing through its $6 billion ACP contract cost to ratepayers, even though they will receive no benefit from it.

      The cost of using the ACP to transport gas to Dominion’s two newest power plants in Southside Virginia is more than five times higher than using the Transco connector that was built in 2015 to serve the two facilities. The price of gas (paid for separately) is about the same for either pipeline.

      Dominion told the federal regulator that existing pipelines had enough available capacity to supply the customers that the ACP intended to supply in southeast Virginia and North Carolina. (There is a bit more to this story).

      It is well-meaning people such as yourself that I have been trying to reach with the rest of the story that you are not getting from Dominion’s press releases. I worked for utilities. I know how important they are to our energy system. But my experience taught me that a utility does not have a right to add costs to their customers without providing a value in return.

      • Tom
        I have not been able to find any independent economic analyses about ACP. My comment was based on the fact that the oil and gas industry for decades has chosen pipelines and the preferred transportation system because truck and rail tankers are more costly and are riskier.
        Instead of looking just at ACP, I suggest that you broaden your search to the economics of pipelines.
        Your comments suggest that Dominion and Duke are on automatic pilot because of sunk costs and the fact that consumers not shareholders will pay the cost. Regulated monopolies are not know for market driven decision making.

        • Bill,

          Let me first clear up a common misconception about the ACP. The owners of it are ultimately Duke Energy and Dominion Energy. Both of those companies are unregulated, for-profit businesses. Those holding companies make a majority of their revenue from owning regulated utilities (monopolies), but they are not monopolies themselves, so the ACP is not monopoly-owned. They just hope to offload the cost and the risk of the pipeline onto the utility ratepayers.

          They got into the pipeline business because they can earn 50% higher returns with a pipeline than their utilities get for building electric transmission lines and power plants.

          You are right that interstate transmission pipelines are more cost-effective for moving fossil fuels than using trucks or railroads.

          However, that does not necessarily indicate that a particular pipeline is cost-effective. Especially, if it duplicates service provided by a lower cost existing pipeline.

          In the past 20 years, FERC has authorized new pipeline capacity that is twice the capacity needed to transport our peak national gas usage. That does not include all of the pipelines built in the 20th century.

          The profit lure has caused a significant overbuilding of pipeline capacity throughout the U.S. The number of pipelines recently built to takeaway gas from from the Appalachian Basin (PA, WV, & OH) significantly exceeds gas production from the region. Many of those new pipes will operate far below their capacity into the 2030s, and perhaps forever.

          With the dramatic drop in domestic gas demand, and cratering of the U.S. LNG export market due to the worldwide economic downturn, many gas wells are being shut-in. Numerous gas producers will go bankrupt. Gas demand might not recover to levels seen in 2019 for years, if ever. Just as electricity demand has stabilized slightly below the levels in 2007.

          I have studied the economics of numerous pipelines. Entirely new pipelines transport gas at a much higher price than expansions to existing pipelines that have been mostly paid for by previous customers. Expansions to existing pipelines in our region have provided currently available capacity that is greater than the MVP and ACP combined.

          How is it cost-effective to ask families and businesses in Virginia to pay billions more in energy costs for a pipeline they don’t need?

    • Bill O’K says, “Taking advantage of the abundance natural gas will lead to fewer GHGs and will do more than solar and wind to provide reliable and low cost power.” This sounds like what a lobbyist promoting the ACP would say. The juxtapositions here are intended to leave the opposite impression from the known facts without actually lying.

      “Fewer GHGs”? Natural gas is a carbon-based fuel (methane) and produces the same or more CO2 per unit of heat created (usually more, as the denser carbon chains in crude oil or coal have a higher intrinsic heat content); it’s true that less heat is extracted to clean the fuel, but that is more than offset by the GHG effect of the methane lost to the environment during gas extraction and transportation. “Provide reliable . . . power” — it’s true that solar cells only work when the sun shines and a wind turbine only works when the wind blows — but are these resources reliable enough to use on the grid? Of course.

      “Provide . . . low cost power” — duh! A free renewable resource is the lowest incremental operating cost of all. But look how he combines these: “Taking advantage of the abundance natural gas will lead to fewer GHGs and will do more than solar and wind to provide reliable and low cost power.” That’s technically true, natural gas generation “will do more than solar and wind to provide [both] reliable and low cost power.”

      “Contribute little to economic growth” — Every recent, reputable study I’ve seen supports modern renewable resource generation as cost-competitive in wholesale energy markets that dispatch based on marginal cost of operation, so much so that they generate the greatest profit for investors. That says to me, these renewable resource units are good for consumers as they lower the wholesale cost of electricity. Of course, a utility that jacks up its renewable-unit costs with “developmental” and “experimental” extras and and puts them in a “rate base” paid by consumers regardless of whether the units ever run, does not have to meet the standards of the wholesale marketplace. Such units might cause utility rates to rise. And therefore it’s possible that such units might “contribute little to economic growth.”

      “Contribute little to . . . shrinking income inequality” — Now there’s a triple negative for you! Lowering the cost of electricity through increased use of renewable resource generation ought to reduce, or shrink, income inequality, assuming that the cost of electricity takes a disproportionate chunk out of most low income household budgets. But will this “contribute little” to reducing income inequality? Depends on how you define “little” and against what base. Anyway, leaving that dependent phrase hanging out there suggests “shrinking income equality” (not inequality) — a more pernicious reading.

      Yes this was written by a communications pro intending to place renewables in the worst possible light in the fewest words without technically lying. Either Bill O’K is one such pro himself, or he’s just happy to pass along the distorting views of others — I wonder why.

      • Acbar, there is a term for someone who makes prejudicial and judgmental comments about someone who they know nothing about. There are only a certain number of ways to provide electrical power–coal or gas fired generation, nuclear, and wind and solar. Wind and solar except in very specific areas are only viable for large scale power generation because of large subsidies and mandates. Look at Germany and its attempt to mandate renewable and phase out fossil fuels, it has to import power from coal fired sources when it is very cloudy and there is little wind. And, it has electricity prices that are almost triple what Virginias pay. The notion that renewables are a free source of energy is just plain silly and not worthy of comment.
        A natural decarbonization has been taking place for years–see work of Jesse Usabel, Rockerfeller University. Natural gas because of its abundance and lower cost is leading the phase out of coal and someday hydrogen will lead the phase out of natural gas.
        It is well established that abundant and affordable energy are essential for strong economic growth. The economic literature is clear on that.
        Not knowing anything about the author, I am willing to venture that he/she is middle class or better. Otherwise, there would be more concern about energy, economic growth, and good paying jobs.

  13. We are experiencing a movement of extreme chemophobia in America. Liberals will no longer tolerate fossil fuels and industry. The blue states will try to phase out industry and fossil fuels, the red states will try to keep using as long as federal rules allow. We will need to rely on China to make much of we need, because China and the rest of the world has not adopted the zero contaminant ethic popular here. America has advanced to an anti-industry country.

    • TBill,

      Is it really “anti-industry?” Perhaps it is something else. In the 1950s and 1960s, America was the industrial powerhouse of the world. Our industrial might was untouched by WWII. In fact, it was expanded by it.

      Our productive machinery, purchased in the 1930s and enhanced in the 1940s, drove our industry in the 50s and 60s. By the 1970s, the nations that rebuilt their industries with new equipment paid for by the US in the late 1940s and 1950s, began to out-compete US manufacturers with more efficient equipment and cheaper labor.

      Instead of retooling here, we began to offshore primary industries believing we could not compete with low labor costs.

      Our ideas of progress are tied to that industrial might and ever-increasing energy use, especially by those who grew up during that era (including me).

      The competitive advantage now belongs to those who use less energy to produce more goods and services, not more. But the politicians and decision-makers who drive our energy policy, are mostly of the gray-haired generation (me again) that believe more energy use is better, even though that continues to add to our costs and makes us less competitive.

      The global economy now consumes 1.5 times the resources that the earth can replenish in a year. This will increase as more countries try to be like us.

      Political ideology of any sort should not determine what our next step is, but what makes sense. It makes sense to design products so that their raw materials can be easily reused without declining in value. It makes sense to live more from our energy income instead of our energy savings account. It makes sense to use our creativity and information technology to get more out of each unit of energy. It no longer makes sense to incentivize our energy companies to build more when that only adds to our costs and reduces our economic competitiveness.

      If you see it differently, please educate me.

  14. re: ” Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow”

    Peter outted them early on… ..

    ” In 2010, nearly half of CFACT’s funding came from Donors Trust, a nonprofit donor-advised fund with the goal of “safeguarding the intent of libertarian and conservative donors”.[9] .[10] In 2011, CFACT received a $1.2 million grant from Donors Trust, 40% of CFACT’s revenue that year.[11] Peabody Energy funded CFACT before its bankruptcy as did Robert E. Murray’s Murray Energy before its bankruptcy.[12][13]”

    ” Donors Trust is an American non-profit donor-advised fund. It was founded in 1999 with the goal of “safeguarding the intent of libertarian and conservative donors”.[4] As a donor advised fund, Donors Trust is not legally required to disclose the identity of its donors, and most of its donors remain anonymous.[5][6] It distributes funds to various conservative and libertarian organizations.”

    This is just a plain old ordinary run of the mill “hit piece” from a paid shill for the fossil fuel industry and a climate denier to boot.

    Accuses the environmental folks who support green energy of being “radical” but these guys are far, far right. Many ordinary folks these days want less fossil fuel use and more renewable energy including major corporations like Walmart and Facebook.

    How about a rebuttal from one of those “radical” green groups (and include their funders)

    Schools are putting solar panels on their roofs and installing LED lights… pretty “radical”… yep. Walmart and Lowes are putting solar on their roofs. A 6000 acre solar farm in Spotsylvania has sold every kilowatt to corporations already.

  15. “A 6000 acre solar farm in Spotsylvania has sold every kilowatt to corporations already.”

    With no environmental impact and no opposition, right?

  16. Larry and Peter, try addressing the substance of the column, as others have in these comments, rather than attacking the author and the organization he works for. In effect you’re saying, “He’s wrong because he’s right wing.” That’s a pathetic argument. Indeed, it’s not an argument at all, just a sign you have nothing useful to contribute to the conversation.

    • I pointed out the disinformation on bird fatalities, just one. But it IS important to KNOW WHO the author is and what is his main work is and who funds him.

      He’s the ones that made the argument against Sierra Club money – without a refernce by the way and he is the one that is funded by the fossil fuel industry and “dark” money – people who don’t want you to know who they are.

      If you are going to give this shill a platform to spread disinformation, at least give the greenies a blog post to rebut – not the lelast of which that the advocates of the ACP essentially lied about it’s purpose so they could use eminent domain to take other people’s property for a pure for-profit venture. Hardly “libertarian”.

  17. I have every right to note the source of the article. It is very much relevant.

    • Sure, you have a “right” to note the source of an article. I’d even go so far as to say that if the source has a business or public-policy agenda, it’s arguments and methodologies warrant closer scrutiny — and that includes anything that Driessen has to say. But simply noting a conservative (or, in your lexicon “right wing”) affiliation proves nothing. And when you use the provenance of an article to discredit conservative articles but never liberal or progressive studies, reports and articles, you are displaying a blatant double standard.

      • It’s pretty clear what the fundamental purpose of that organization is. They are NOT an objective organization.

        And who they are funded by speaks volumes.

        Not only the fossil-fuel industry but also donor’s trust which hides the identities of it’s donors.

        There’s no doubles standard here – I’d be (and have been) just as tough on the other side but your logic seems to be that they are justified in engaging in misinformation and disinformation because they are “conservative” and that apparently makes it okay and if we highlight that – it’s an “attack” on Conservatism.

        There is a far left “green” – no question at all. But this is FAR RIGHT – no question at all either. There is a large middle on “green” and this organization is no where near it. They are blatantly pro-fossil fuel and hard core deniers or climate change – which MANY capitalist corporations accept and are working t reduce their energy footprints.

        This group is not any of that.

  18. Jim, i don’t have time to dissect this piece. But if you look at some of his “sources” they are a London tabloid and himself! His source is a piece he did for the Heartland Institute which has clear links to Koch. He doesn’t bother listing sources for other supposed facts. And you really expect us to take this seriously and not question it? Where does he get the idea that AOC has so much power? From AOC? The guy seems like an industry hack.

  19. Jim,
    Ok I went through the article trying to find his sources. I counted four links. One was from a London tabloid and another was from the Times of London. Two were from himself.One of his points if that China and India are building a lot of coal plants. That’s not exactly news. Since you like authors to quoted themselves, please check out this piece from The New York Times from 2012 and see who wrote it:

    https://www.cnbc.com/id/49797641

    • Peter, you’re getting closer to a serious critique. At least you are addressing Driessen’s sources (or lack of them) rather than saying, “He’s wrong because he’s a right-wing nut.”

      But you revert to another one of your tropes — it’s “old news,” therefore, it doesn’t count. So what if a piece of evidence is “old news”? Is it relevant to the argument? Show me how it isn’t relevant rather than dismissing it out of hand.

  20. re: ” Pipeline project developers Dominion Resources and Duke Energy should receive the USFS and other permits relatively soon – and have the pipeline in operation by early 2022 – unless a Biden administration takes over in 2021 (with AOC as woke climate and energy advisor to Biden and Democrats) and imposes Green New Deal bans on drilling, fracking, pipelines, and eventually any use of natural gas, oil and coal.”

    where does this come from? what’s the factual basis ? where’s the reference?

    how about this:

    ” Barely a few years ago, the Sierra Club and allied groups gladly took $187 million and more from Michael Bloomberg, natural gas producers and other financiers to wage their War on Coal. Having closed down most US coal mines and power plants, they then turned gas from a “climate friendly bridge fuel” to evil incarnate. Today they want to end fossil fuel use nationwide. Via delusion, incantation and cancellation of debate, they have convinced themselves that wind, solar, battery and biofuel “alternatives” are somehow “clean, green, renewable and sustainable.” Reality says otherwise.”

    where are the references? who is “they” ?

    this is a joke…

  21. Jim I never said this guy is a right wing nut job. You suggested that. It is clear that the author of the piece is being paid by fossil fuel interests and you should have noted that. If you don’t, LarrytheG or I will. Asia and coal is an old story. When I researched my book on coal, I did reporting from China, Mongolia and Japan. That seems to count for nothing in today’s BR that seems overly influenced by lobbyists. Give me a little credit, please.

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