I have written often about the “Jihad on Pipelines” being waged against oil and natural gas pipelines across the country, including in my Federal Energy Regulatory Commission post in support of the proposed PennEast Natural Gas pipeline through my home Hunterdon County, New Jersey. To the best of my knowledge, the term “jihad on pipelines” was coined by New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine. But the jihad is much wider than pipelines.
Bill McKibben, one of the leading enemies of reliable fossil fuel energy, penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times showing that the jihad on pipelines is part of a broader environmentalist War on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure. In How to drive a stake through the heart of zombie fossil fuel, McKibben writes that the key to shutting down the fossil fuel industry is to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built. We’re talking not just pipelines, but any and all major fossil fuel projects:
Even as global warming makes it clear that coal, natural gas and oil are yesterday's energy, two centuries of fossil fuel development means new projects keep emerging in zombie-like fashion.
In fact, the climactic fight at the end of the fossil fuel era is underway. In statehouse hearing rooms and far off farmers' fields, local activists are making desperate stands to stop new fossil fuel projects, while the energy companies are making equally desperate attempts to build while they still can. The outcome of these thousands of fights, as much or more than the paper promises made at the U.N. climate conference in Paris in December, will determine whether we emerge from this century with a habitable planet. They are the battle for the future.
It sure is. New fossil fuel projects keep emerging because fossil fuels continue by far to be the best energy technology available. Success by these anti-reliable energy jihadists will result not in immediate hardship but in progressive deterioration in our ability to live as human beings—our economic strength and standard of living. McKibben is crystal clear on the purpose of the Jihad on Fossil Fuel Energy Infrastructure:
Here's the basic math: If you build a pipeline in 2016, the investment will be amortized for 40 years or more. It is designed to last — to carry coal slurry or gas or oil — well into the second half of the 21st century. It is, in other words, designed to keep us extracting carbon, the very thing scientists insist we simply can't keep doing and survive.
The same “basic math” goes for propane export terminal projects or fracking or underground gas storage facilities or coal export terminals and so on, all mentioned in the article.
Yes, the energy abundance that gives us our prosperity today is there because of investments made years and decades ago. Energy companies plan long term. Killing that long-term planning will lead to increasingly intense energy poverty leading to steadily increasing suffering and death of billions of human beings—and all allegedly for an imperceptibly slightly cooler world, in theory!
Keep in mind that McKibben offers no alternative to fossil fuels. If there were a better alternative, they wouldn’t have to attack fossil fuels politically—i.e., by stopping energy investment by force. They could win in honest competition, winning away fossil fuel industry customers by offering a superior non-carbon alternative like nuclear power, some technological breakthrough form of wind or solar, or some other source that proves more a superior form of scalable energy that consumers would willingly buy. Be he doesn't because he can’t. “[F]or now,” he readily acknowledges, “there's really no other way to kill a zombie.”
Worse, McKibben knows this full well, and he doesn’t care. McKibben calls fossils fuels “yesterday’s energy.” But then what is tomorrow’s? “If you can't do fossil fuel energy,” McKibben flippantly asserts, “you have to do something else — sun, wind, conservation.” Sound familiar?—“Oh, you’ll do something!” This is classic Leftism: Pass economy-crippling laws and regulations, and then hope for somebody else to come along to pick up the pieces.
Clearing, McKibben’s concern is not for human well-being. McKibben’s moral concern is with keeping the climate and the Earthly environment as free of human industrial improvement as possible. This is key: McKibben doesn’t give a damn about your well-being, or mine, or our children’s, or anyone’s. To him, a “habitable planet” is a planet suited only for the lives of cave men before the harnessing of carbon dioxide-emitting fire. McKibben is the leader of the real zombies; those primitives who want to roll back industrial prosperity.
Yes, we are in a battle for the future. People who values their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren had better wake up to the sinister activities of our future’s fossil fuel enemies.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein
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