Eco-Warriors — Unsound logic with unsightly landscapes
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By Steve Russell
The environmental activist mindset is curiously ironic. They denigrate our military engagements in the Middle East as smokescreens to grab local oil reserves, then fight tooth-and-nail against any efforts to develop the vast energy resources here at home.
The eco-warriors fail to correlate restricted energy at home with dangerous energy consumption abroad.
The American economy needs energy to run. If eco-warriors cannot stomach domestic oil and natural gas development, then they must reconcile sending our soldiers into harm's way to secure foreign energy sources.
"Save the planet" types will no doubt argue that, on the contrary, renewables are the solution to America's energy needs. But this position is implausible.
The Department of Energy has spent billions extending loans to flailing green tech companies. Remember Solyndra, the solar company that declared bankruptcy in September 2011 after receiving over half a billion dollars in government-guaranteed loans? That's just one of many renewable companies that have taken in massive amounts of American tax dollars and produced little to nothing in return.
An estimated $7.3 billion in federal tax subsidies will flow to renewable energy efforts this year. Despite all this support, solar, geothermal, hydro, wind, and biomass energy combined contribute a piffling 9 percent to American energy production.
We can also thank eco-warriors for the most unsightly landscapes our nation has ever witnessed. Countless acres of American amber waves of grain are now pocked with miles of ugly, twirling contraptions. And for that abysmal eyesore, wind is responsible for just a tiny fraction of America's energy production.
There is a better way to meet our energy needs. Four years ago, the Canadian energy firm TransCanada initiated development of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude from Alberta oil sands to American refineries. Today, the project is mired in regulatory delays.
If completed, Keystone would greatly reduce America's dependence on oil imported from unstable regimes. It would inject $5.3 billion worth of private investment into the U.S. economy, immediately create 16,000 shovel-ready jobs, and support tens of thousands additional positions over the next several decades.
Four separate government environmental-impact statements have determined the pipeline poses no significant harm to the environment.
Additionally, policymakers need to ease up restrictions on innovative hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking." This technology enables energy developers to access previously unreachable oil and natural gas reserves.
In 2012, the Energy Information Administration reported that America saw its largest increase in oil output since the 1800s, in large part thanks to the expanded use of fracking. By 2017, the United States could overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's largest oil producer. And natural gas obtained by fracking already accounts for 25 percent of U.S. energy.
As far as environmental concerns go, none other than Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has said that there have been "no proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water."
Still, the eco-naysayers call for delays on Keystone approval and fracking moratoriums for federal lands. Their result is enriched, unstable, foreign governments and endangered American soldiers--all in the name of saving the world. And we get the added benefit of those unsightly landscapes.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell was involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein and is the author of We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein. A military analyst for Concerned Veterans for America, he served as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Oklahoma Senate.