Free Markets, Free People

What is the Sierra Club’s real agenda?

The Sierra Club would like to convince you they’re all about clean air, water and protecting wildlife.  But if their latest campaign is any example, it’s really about banning fossil fuels.

We are in the middle of a growing natural gas boom.  We have a glut of the stuff.  Prices of natural gas continue to drop as more and more of the fuel is brought to market.  That opens up the field to new applications from a fuel supply that is acknowledged as cleaner burning than oil.   It could completely change the energy industry.

If it is given the chance.

Here’s the irony.  When the “drill, baby, drill” campaign to exploit our oil resources was underway, the Sierra Club was in the forefront of pushing natural gas as a much cleaner alternative.

And, in fact, it accepted $26 million in donations from Chesapeake Energy and others in the gas industry from 2007 to2010.

Now, suddenly, it is at war with the industry as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

The battle plan is called "Beyond Natural Gas," and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune announced the goal in an interview with the National Journal this month: "We’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can." The big green lobbying machine has rolled out a new website that says "The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok" and that "The closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be." So the goal is to shut the industry down, not merely to impose higher safety standards.

Another, among many, who feels entitled to limit your choices.

The Sierra Club has lobbied to stop nuclear power plants from being built and against coal and oil.  They claim they are interested in fuels that have “lower carbon emissions”.  Natural gas is, well, a natural in that area.  And the statistics prove the point:

The federal Energy Information Administration reports that in 2009 "the 4% drop in the carbon intensity of the electric power sector, the largest in recent times, reflects a large increase in the use of lower-carbon natural gas because of an almost 50% decline in its price." The Department of Energy reports that natural gas electric plants produce 45% less carbon than coal plants, though newer coal plants are much cleaner.

Researchers at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that electric power plants reduced their greenhouse gases by 8.76% in 2009 alone. Most of the carbon reduction was driven not by mandates or regulation but by the economics of lower gas prices. The lead researcher, professor Michael McElroy, says: "Generating one kilowatt-hour of electricity from coal releases twice as much CO2 to the atmosphere as generating the same amount from natural gas, so a slight shift in the relative price of coal and natural gas can result in a sharp drop in carbon emissions."

So, what’s not to like?

The answer surely is the industry’s drilling success. The greens were happy to support natural gas as a "bridge fuel to the 21st century" when it cost $8 or more per million BTUs and seemed to be in limited domestic supply.

But now that the hydraulic fracturing and shale revolution has sent gas prices down to $2.50, the lobby fears natural gas will come to dominate U.S. energy production. At that price, the Sierra Club’s Valhalla of wind, solar and biofuel power may never be competitive. So the green left has decided it must do everything it can to reduce the supply of gas and keep its price as high as possible.

And that means attacking hydraulic fracturing (something we’ve been doing since 1948 in over a million wells) as the villain.  Because it would seem somewhat hypocritical to attack the fuel that they’ve been touting for years, wouldn’t it? So instead, they’ll attempt to make the process the problem.

So let’s ask the “what if” question.  What if they succeed in this hypocritical campaign of theirs?

The losers if this effort succeeds would be the millions of Americans who are benefitting from the shale boom. Shale gas supports some 600,000 jobs in the natural gas industry, according to an analysis by the consulting firm IHS Global Insight. That’s almost eight times more jobs than are employed by the wind industry.

But the losers would also include electricity consumers paying lower prices at home; the steel workers in Youngstown, Ohio who have been rehired to make pipe for gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale; and the thousands of high-paying jobs in chemicals, fertilizer and other manufacturing that is returning to the U.S. because natural gas prices are so much lower.

They’d limit your choice, drive up your energy bill, kill jobs and all for what?

For their extremist agenda, which, by the way, really has little to do with clean air, water and protecting wildlife.

It’s a cult with money – the most dangerous kind.


Twitter: @McQandO

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12 Responses to What is the Sierra Club’s real agenda?

  • Of the many suicidal things I’ve lobbied against U.S. companies indulging in, high on the list is so-called “corporate responsibility”, or more minutely “green sensitivity”.
    This is highly vogue in business schools, and has been for decades.  There are (apparently) sound marketing reasons to play with the greenies.  But the greenies are NOT playing.  They are deadly serious Collectivists and misanthropes generally.
    Instead of giving money to people like these, American (and other) companies should be forming and funding people to counter them effectively.
    Efficiency is inherently good management.  Nobody with a brain suggests waste and pollution (often a loss of a potentially valuable asset) is a good idea.  Well-managed, profitable businesses are the cleanest possible models you’ll find.
    But, as we’ve noted here many times together, these people are not about that kind of responsible use and development.  They are about rolling humanity back into the dark.
    We need to pressure companies to start acting in their own survival interests, and ours.

  • I try my very best not to ascribe motives to others, if nothing else because I can’t stand it when people do that to me. I start out with the base assumption that most people involved with groups like Sierra Club are decent folks with good motives. That said, it was with a sense of creeping horror that I realized many years ago that many respectable mainstream environmentalist groups were often advocating things that were not particularly good for the environment, and were often very woefully misguided–and saw how people who raised objections were often demonized.
    It’s really, really frustrating to be worried about the environment while simultaneously being worried about the people who do environmental activism doing more harm than good. 🙁

  • “They are about rolling humanity back into the dark”
    They really don’t want THEIR lives to change, but they’d like it if the trogs could move underground so they could have unsullied natural views from THEIR lofty building perched amidst nature (in a completely blended, natural, attractive way, of course).

  • Find the power feed into the headquarters of the Sierra Club, snip, snip. (Note: never cut both feeds at the same time, however, you may leave the ground lead)
    If Sierra Club hates power so much, like a good 12-stepper, they have little choice but to abstain.

    • Now If you really want to mess em’ up, just snip only the neutral lead (the bare wire).
      They could go weeks replacing failed equipment before someone figures it out. 😉

  • My mother used to donate to the Sierra Club, but quit when all she kept getting were apocalyptic flyers about one imminent ecological armageddon or another.  Said since they clearly hadn’t solved any of the previous armageddons, they must be incompetent and she wasn’t going to waste any more money on them.  Now her checks go to The Nature Conservancy.