Thursday, December 4, 2014

Environmentalist Witch Doctors Not Concerned With Human Benefaction

Michael A. Egenton of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce posted an op-ed in the NJ Star-Ledger titled Natural gas an important, needed resource in N.J. As the title suggests, Egenton is countering the growing reactionary opposition in the state to natural gas production and supply. For example, environmental activists seek to stop a proposed natural gas pipeline that would carry natural gas produced from "farcking" in Pennsylvania through the state. Lawn signs with messages like "Stop the Fracking Pipelines" abound in Hunterdon (where I live) and Mercer Counties.

For one thing, Egenton defends Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would ban waste from Pennsylvania’s hydraulic facturing industry from being disposed of in NJ.:

Though this bill was largely symbolic – intended to stir up negative sentiment against natural gas – it insinuated that natural gas is dangerous, undesirable and unwelcome in New Jersey, despite ample evidence of the fuel’s importance and high value. In nearby producing states like Pennsylvania and New York, natural gas exploration waste is disposed of close by or recycled either on-site or at local facilities.

This legislation, and that of its kind, ignores the reality of what keeps New Jersey’s air conditioners humming, our industries producing and our lights on. When the Polar Vortex hit New Jersey last winter, it was natural gas that kept our homes warm and comfortable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 75 percent of New Jersey households rely on natural gas to heat their homes.

Had this bill gone unchallenged, our concern is that it would have set the tone that New Jersey is wary of natural gas and natural gas operations, creating a troubling legislative precedent that could lead to additional anti-natural gas bills, perhaps even hampering our state’s access to this important resource.

Opponents of fossil fuels always highlight “pollution” from these energy sources while ignoring or downplaying the benefits. For example, "merlyn"—referring to Egenton—wrote in a comment: “I find it difficult to fathom how someone in that position could lack the competence and integrity to confuse the issues of the use of natural gas with the pollution it can cause.”

But before fossil fuels, life was much dirtier. People literally lived in filth. Without centralized heating, electricity, and advanced waste disposal run by fossil fuels, homes and cities were filled with pollution. (By pollution, I mean real pollution, not greenhouse gases that make the planet habitable.) Clean, modern living requires reliable, large-scale energy production. All industrial activity generates pollution. But that is minimal compared to the benefits, and can be alleviated by technology. We can have both fossil fuels and pollution controls, leading to a cleaner, healthier environment, as the evidence all around us proves.

I left these comments:

Environmentalist opponents of natural gas are not concerned with facts or human benefits. They are quasi-religious dogmatists who see “Mother Earth” as a superorganism with rights, and human beings as a scourge or disease afflicting nature. As such, they view human exploitation and development of Earth’s raw materials through amazing technologies like hydraulic fracturing and pipelines not as heroic but as “degradation” and “scars upon the land.”

I know. I’ve listened to their arguments against the proposed PennEast pipeline through my home county of Hunterdon. They rarely express rational concerns. Primarily, their opposition centers around stopping “fracking” and “preserving” land in its natural state. Untouched nature, they believe, has intrinsic value, and human development is not value creation but value destruction. The Earth, their ideology teaches, is not a great ball of raw materials waiting for human ingenuity to turn into goods that improve human life. The environment is sacred in its natural state, even though, in this state, it is hostile and dangerous. Wherever possible, they seek to sacrifice humans to this mystical view of nature.

Contrary to what most people think, environmentalism is not about cleaner, safer industrialization. At its core, environmentalism is an anti-industrial movement. It is a primitive ideology led by witch doctors. If you think this is hyperbole, observe their knee-jerk opposition to every pipeline proposal in NJ. Observe also their hypocrisy. They once hailed natural gas as a replacement for “dirty coal” because it emits far less “carbon pollution.” But now that coal is on the defensive, and natgas is plentiful thanks to the “fracking” revolution, they seek to stop the natgas revolution. Their unrelenting opposition to any reliable energy source makes sense only when viewed within the context of their witch doctor ideology.

Related Reading:

Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet—Alex Epstein and Eric Dennis

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