A friend sent me a link to a well written and thought provoking post on Depleted Cranium titled The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Know. I encourage you to go read it and the lengthy discussion that follows. (Thanks DV8 2XL)
Here is an example from the thread of responses. (Of course, I have permission from the poster to copy it here.)
I want to thank a friend for pointing to this well considered post and the generally civil and thought provoking discussion.
There are a couple of aspects of the discussion that have not yet been introduced.
It might surprise and seriously shake the belief structure of both Environmentalists and those who oppose the movement to know that at least some of the dogma in the Environmental religion were introduced or encouraged by people who LIKE to sell lots of fossil fuel at as high a price as possible. In other words, these dogma are selfish impositions by some rich and powerful people.
As many who know the history of The Sierra Club know, one of its first really successful efforts was a campaign against hydroelectric dam construction. This was a natural for the organization, which had been started by some true conservationists who loved the beauty of the great outdoors, including the wild and undeveloped rivers and canyons in the Sierra Nevada. They were primed to work hard to protect those canyons from being turned into lakes. The money for the campaign, however came largely from well heeled Californians who just happened to work for or lead companies like Standard Oil, Gulf, and Chevron.
You see, California had a tremendous resource of oil and as a byproduct of drilling for that oil it had a serious waste product called methane that needed to be flared away to protect the installations from explosions. Of course, being smart fellows, the oil company knew that this waste product contained useful heat that could produce electricity as long as someone invested the capital to collect it and pipe it to a steam plant. The economic case for that activity could not be made unless the price of the finished product was high enough to support the return necessary to attract the capital.
That required price could not be supported in a state where you could produce most of the power that you needed by damning some rivers and depending on the hydroelectric cycle for fuel, especially if the damn construction was initially supported by the federal government. Of course, fighting damns for economic reasons is far more challenging than making it a “religious” activity supported by high minded “Environmentalists”. That is especially true since the customers for the cheap hydro power were also pretty smart and well connected and would have dismissed their friends at the local golf club.
Suddenly, the rather small and poor Sierra Club found itself getting lots of very large donations to support its efforts to halt damn construction. At the same time, the oil companies made the necessary investments to collect the methane – they even got some subsidies for doing so since the flares were considered to be a nuisance – and began making a profit by selling the gas to the power companies. Of course, as the demand grew faster than the supply, the price of gas got better and better – from the seller’s point of view.
In essence, that is how California came to depend on natural gas (a fine marketing term for methane) for its electricity with the help of Sierra Club.
My references for this story are too numerous to list here, and most do not have links – they need to be found in dusty places fully of dead trees called libraries. One book that provides part of the story, however is titled In the Thick of It: My Life in the Sierra Club. It talks about how Sierra started taking large donations from people associated with “dirty” industries, but does not really connect the dots in the way that my interpretation above did. To fill in that piece you need to do a bit of analytical work on the Energy Information Agency web site plus dig through corporate annual reports.
Anyway – do a bit of critical thinking. Who benefits when we have an energy supply situation where the balance between supply and demand forces the prices higher and where the suppliers can sell every bit of the product that they can possibly produce? Who wins when oil, gas and coal companies can paint themselves as heroic by talking about how hard they are working to find more product to sell? Who wins when windmills are subsidized? Who is supplying the “biofuel” market with heat, transporting the biofuels to market, and selling the diesel and fertilizer necessary to grow the crops?
If you are also a strong anti-communist, think about the tight relationship between natural resources like oil and gas and the Soviet and Putin governments.
Someday when I have more time, I will talk about how Nader is an Arab whose initial thrust into prominence came as a result of a fight against the first successful small, fuel efficient car built in America after a long period of ever larger and more powerful cars and how E. F. Schumacher made his living as a member of Britain’s National Coal Board with the duty of working to sustain the coal mining industry.
Note:The phase in bold right after the word “Arab” was added to the original after later thought.
(Originally posted by Rod Adams at http://depletedcranium.com/?p=368