The American economy has some basic problems. We need more well-paid jobs, increased revenue, and our trade balance is out of whack. Each of these issues could be easily addressed, but environmentalists are doing everything they can to kill potential solutions. Three such examples are coal mining and exporting; natural gas extraction and conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG) that can then be exported; and the Keystone pipeline-all of which face extreme opposition from environmentalists.
The United States has the world's largest economically recoverable coal resources-with more than one-fourth of the world's reserves.
Last month, environmental groups sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Montana and Wyoming. Here's why leasing these federal lands for coal mining is important: Peabody Coal recently paid nearly $800 million to the U.S. government for the rights to expand an existing coal mine and maintain their current workforce-13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the PRB alone, employ more than 6800 workers.
While, coal use in the United States has decreased, its low cost and abundance make it the preferred fuel for power generation in countries like China and India. Even Europe is increasing its use of coal for electricity generation.
Currently, U.S. coal is easily shipped to Europe from ports on the east coast, but, due to opposition from environmental groups, the United States is missing out on the important Asian market-now being met by more expensive Australian competitors. In the Los Angeles Times, climate activist Bill McKibben wrote: "Those exports can't really take off, however, unless West Coast ports dramatically expand their deepwater loading capacity. É Environmentalists are trying desperately to block the port expansion." PRB coal is being shipped to China and India through Vancouver, Canada. Additionally, those countries' needs are being filled by Australian and Indonesian coal. The coal is being shipped and used-but the United States is losing out on the jobs, the revenue, and the benefit to the trade deficit.
A report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation states: "U.S. production will merely replace higher cost production. É Neither net world coal combustion nor (greenhouse gas) emissions will change as a result of an expansion of U.S. coal exports." The report concludes: "The higher net value received is in effect a wealth transfer from foreign consumers to U.S. producers and the national economy. This net gain to the national economy shows up in higher returns to invested capital, greater employment opportunities from expanded investment, higher revenues to state, local and federal governments, and higher lease values on coal reserves from federal and state lands."
But environmental groups don't want this "net gain to the national economy." Apparently, they'd prefer that we continue to borrow from China's Australian coal-fueled economy.
LNG faces a similar problem. Natural gas was once the favored choice of environmentalists-until hydraulic fracturing advancements made it plentiful and, consequently cheap. The low-cost fuel snatched away the fossil fuel-free dream that seemed to be almost within reach. Now environmentalists oppose natural gas as well. The Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas site claims: "Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy."
Many countries want U.S. natural gas. Unlike coal, natural gas cannot just be put on a ship and sent to the waiting customer. It must first be liquefied-hence the term LNG. The liquefaction process requires costly facilities, which, for economic reasons, need a large customer base. The Department of Energy has 20 LNG export projects awaiting approval.
A recent IHS global insight report concluded that LNG exports would "result in the creation of more than 100,000 direct, indirect, and economywide jobs and have an immediate economic impact resulting in $3.6 billion to $5.2 billion in potential annual revenues."
And, LNG exporting would not only create jobs and increase revenue, it would also reduce trade deficits. A just-released report from the Rio Grande Foundation states: "The United States currently runs a $6 billion trade deficit with Japan. That nation is particularly eager to import LNG from the US."
Once again, environmentalists oppose jobs, revenue, and trade-deficit reduction. Earlier this year, more than 40 groups and individuals took out a half page ad in the New York Times that said: "Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to overseas markets will mean more drilling and fracking on U.S. land, which are dirty and dangerous practices."
Like coal mining and export, natural gas extraction, liquefaction, and export, the Keystone pipeline would create thousands of union jobs and increased service employment in supporting communities; benefit local and state economies, and provide additional revenues to the federal coffers; and help balance the trade deficit, as some of the refined product would be exported. But once again, environmental opposition has targeted the pipeline-causing delay after delay that has now postponed the economic benefits.
The Keystone pipeline saga is the same song, another verse.
These are just three current examples of how the influence of environmental organizations is driving policy in the name of planetary salvation that is, in reality, resulting in economic devastation that could lead to humanity's ultimate starvation. Environmental motivations are less about saving the planet and more about killing the global economy-while enriching themselves at taxpayers' expense.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).