Environmentalism: A Hurdle to Energy Independence

Environmentalism: A Hurdle to Energy Independence
by JBS President John F. McManus

When generating electricity from nuclear power became available half a century ago, environmentalists were among its greatest champions. It didn’t send any soot into the atmosphere. It didn’t pollute nearby rivers, streams, and other waterways. As for safety, all of those concerns had been properly addressed. In short, the new invention was safer, cleaner, and even less costly.

But no sooner had the potential of freeing our nation from importing oil to generate power and heat homes and businesses become achievable than scary environmental concerns about producing electricity from the atom arose a new cause. Almost overnight, obtaining a license to build a new nuclear plant became impossible. Government agencies, predominantly filled with scare-producing leftists, succumbed and the United States stopped its march toward energy independence.

No amount of evidence showing the worth of what are termed “nukes” satisfied environmental crusaders. From being champions of the new technology, they had overnight become its greatest enemies. They sued, they led demonstrations, and they succeeded in halting further use of a marvelous new invention. Meanwhile, countries like France turned to nuclear power and, while the U.S. nuclear power industry still supplies approximately 20 percent of needed electric power, more than 75 percent of France’s electricity is produced by its newly built nuclear power stations.

Here in America, recent headlines reported that after a decades-long shut-down, a single permit to build a new nuclear power generating facility has been granted. It still faces opposition, not only from wrongly propagandized and mostly young anti-nuke partisans, but from their behind-the-scenes sponsors whose goal can only be stifling America’s productive might. Also, plentiful supplies of coal that can be burned to produce more electricity face new threats to their suppliers because of environmental extremists who claim the process results in questionable global warming or climate change.

Fast forward now to a more recent development in the field of capturing energy sources. Phenomenally large deposits of oil and natural gas have been discovered in Canada’s tar sands and the Bakken reservation centered in North Dakota. These relatively new resources present our nation with the opportunity to become free of dependence on questionable foreign providers.

But a different hurdle toward energy independence has emerged – the blocking of a proposed pipeline to carry oil from Canada and the Bakken to refineries within our borders. Forces similar to those that became opponents of nuclear power have been energized to block construction of the Keystone pipeline. At the same time, opposition to extracting natural gas from newly found deposits in several eastern states has developed.

The opportunity to replace long years of dependency on energy from the volatile Middle East, unfriendly Venezuela, and other unreliable suppliers now exists. The hurdle isn’t a scarcity of precious oil and gas; it’s environmentalism.

A recent report from The New American shows that the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production. Will the environmental lobby allow that to happen?