In Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, Steve Milloy argues that environmentalists don’t want U.S. energy production to be clean or safe–they just don’t want energy production. They oppose it of all kinds, including renewable sources. In this passage, he shows how they obstruct traditional sources.
Just over half our electricity is produced by coal. For decades, greens have tried in vain to reduce the use of coal, lobbying for regulations on how it is mined and the chemical compounds it emits when burned. But the global warming scare seems to have finally given them some traction.
For the first time, applications to build new coal-fired power plants are being rejected based on their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)—and not just a few plants. Of more than 150 coal plant proposals submitted to regulators for approval in recent years, by the end of 2007 just thirty-five had either been built or were under construction. An astounding fifty-nine of the proposed plants were cancelled, abandoned, or put on hold because of concerns over CO2 emissions. Many coal plants are falling victim to aggressive legal challenges by the Sierra Club, whose “Stopping the Coal Rush” website sports a database and map proudly showing the various plants being attacked by green groups.
And lawsuits aren’t the greens’ only weapon in this campaign, as they now insert themselves directly into big business deals. Incredibly, greens played a key role in the $45 billion buyout of the electric utility TXU Corp by a group of led by the private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts in 2007. Prior to the buyout, TXU had angered greens by planning to build eleven new coal-fired power plants. So the KKR group reached out to the activists, who agreed to end their campaign against TXU and to support the buyout in exchange for KKR’s capitulation to two green demands: not building eight of the eleven plants, and having TXU support federal carbon-reduction legislation.
Burning natural gas, which accounts for 19 percent of our electricity, emits less carbon dioxide than burning coal, but that hasn’t earned it much support from the greens. In February 2008 a Florida chapter of EarthFirst protested the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant. “I’m not willing to threaten the integrity of the Loxahatchee, one of the last large, intact pieces of the northern Everglades, so that people can fuel their greedy energy desires,” declared one activist. Another green argued that “gas fired-power is not a clean or sustainable energy. It is a dirty and dwindling fossil fuel.
An additional green strategy for attacking natural gas is to obstruct its supply, which is already limited due to green polices such as the recently expired ban on offshore drilling. A classic example was seen in Massachusetts, where Democratic congressman Barney Frank advocated dredging Fall River, a long time industrial area, to preserve its viability as an industrial port. Six months later, however, a proposal emerged to build a terminal in Fall River for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). Once the LNG terminal was proposed, Frank suddenly reversed his position and introduced a bill to designate Fall River—the same area he had wanted dredged—a “wild and scenic river” protected by federal law. He also tried to block the LNG terminal by opposing the demolition of a decrepit (or would that be called scenic?) bridge that would impede ship access to the area.
If coal and natural gas are all off the table as electricity sources surely the greens would support nuclear power, the one completely CO2-free power generation not subject to resource depletion or dependence on foreign suppliers? Wrong again. In fact, the greens have single-handedly made nuclear power so expensive and litigious that no nuclear facility has been built in the U.S. in thirty years. Ignoring the extraordinary safety record of nuclear power throughout the world, greens have exploited decades-old accidents like the 1979 [partial] meltdown at Three Mile Island and the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl to scare the U.S. public away from nuclear power.
(Excerpted from pages 39-41)