September 2016, Vol. 71 No. 9

Editor's Log

Fighting Back The Zealots

Robert Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief, Underground Construction Magazineby Robert Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

We lost the Keystone Pipeline to politics rather than rational justification. The environmental lobby had enough political clout with President Obama when he took office to manipulate his anti-carbon leanings into a full-fledged war on all things carbon. The Obama administration effectively delayed and blocked the approval process for Keystone at every turn until the President felt confident enough in his position to publicly reject the pipeline – after having been in office for almost seven years.

How did that happen? Sound business models, an unprecedented number of environmental impact statements (all of which supported the case for the pipeline), reworking the route substantially (with a great deal of additional cost) to satisfy the state of Nebraska concerns regarding the Ogallala Aquifer, all sorts of compromises and environmental precautions – none of that could trump the intransigent anti-carbon policies of President Obama. The environmental lobby claimed victory in the defeat of Keystone and demonstrated to the world its power to influence a sitting U.S. President and many members of Congress.

Count Candidate Hillary Clinton among those who are embracing the radical environmental lobby as a vital ally in her quest for the presidency. If Clinton is elected, any hope of a pipeline revival is lost. It is irrelevant how you may feel about her as a possible president; the fact remains that her policies haven’t changed since she was Secretary of State and she has publicly stated support for President Obama’s decision to finally kill Keystone. Love her or hate her, the oil and gas industry will not bode well under another Clinton administration.

Of course, there is no guarantee that The Donald would be any better. His open-mouth mantra played well with raucous crowds in the primaries, but has been nothing but trouble since he earned the nomination.

As an industry pundit, I regularly receive communications from a wide variety of anti-carbon groups. These communiques leave me overwhelmed with negativity, disgusted with distorted facts, flabbergasted at the say-anything approach and blindsided by “created” spontaneous protests. These groups could – and still do – twist facts in such a way as to make their efforts sound like justification for a medieval Crusade.

The oil/gas industry has tried to fight back in the battle for public opinion and political posturing. But those attempts have largely been ineffective, the net effect of a quiet man trying to be heard in a room full of shouting idiots. Facts were never allowed to get in the way of the truth. Further, much of the industry’s approach was to preach the business benefits of modern energy – a fatal strategic flaw as big business is not looked upon with great favor these days. However, environmental groups were quite effective in painting pictures of landowners or farmers desperately trying to hang on to their livelihoods.

I was recently encouraged, however, by a new effort being launched to counter the waves of politically correct rhetoric still being plied by extreme groups in efforts to keep their green jihad in motion. But this new group is not an oil and gas advocacy group; rather, it’s a consumer advocacy group and therein lies what could be a difference maker. The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a national organization that represents consumers, manufacturers, agriculture, energy, renewables and other industries. They’ve got a very interesting and informative website without trying to scare the bejesus out of you with end of days claims.

The CEA launched a national campaign in August called “Pipelines for Americas,” which focuses on educating consumers about the increasing importance of U.S. energy infrastructure and how more is needed to keep consumer energy prices stable and better protect the environment. The group, which claims it has more than 400,000 members, says it is “increasingly concerned about the severe lack of sufficient U.S. energy infrastructure and what it could mean for millions of American families, small businesses and consumers who depend on reliable, affordable energy and have, to date, benefited from America’s record-setting energy revolution of recent years.”

Check out the group’s website: It was refreshing to observe a practical, fact-based discussion of the risks and benefits of pipeline and oil/gas energy in general.

Will people actually listen, watch and learn from efforts such as the CEA’s Pipelines for Americas message? Are people willing to be open-minded and receptive to reason rather than impassioned, self-righteous pleas? We can only hope for reason in a time of manic madness.

Related Articles

From Archive


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}