Sunday, August 16, 2015

Anti-Pipeline Jihadists Assault FERC—and Our Energy

Anti-fossil fuel environmentalists have, in recent years, focussed on stopping oil and natural gas pipelines as a means of strangling fossil fuel production and use. Often aligning themselves with NIMBY groups, this small but highly organized and motivated movement of environmentalists leads what New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine calls “a jihad on pipelines.”

Apparently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency charged with the task of approving pipelines, is feeling the high-powered heat from the jihadists. In a article, Federal energy commissioner concerned about gas pipeline critics, Kieth Brown writes:

The head of the federal commission that will decide whether the [PennEast Pipeline Company’s proposed natural gas pipeline through Western Hunterdon County in New Jersey] gets built expressed concern in a recent speech over the "unprecedented opposition'' to the construction of new natural gas pipelines, prompting new criticism from pipeline opponents.

"We have a situation here,'' Cheryl A. LaFleur, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27.

"Pipelines are facing unprecedented opposition from local and national groups including environmental activists," LaFleur said. "These groups are active in every FERC docket, as they should be, as well as in my email inbox seven days a week, in my Twitter feed, at our open meetings demanding to be heard, and literally at our door closing down First Street so FERC won't be able to work."

LaFleur's comments were blasted by opponents of the proposed $1.2 billion pipeline stretching through six counties from Northeastern Pennsylvania to Hopewell Township in Mercer County.

"My thoughts are with Harry Truman,'' said Hopewell Township Mayor Harvey Lester. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.''

FERC’s jihadist opponents all but accused the commission of corruption:

"The growing public outcry is because of [FERC’s] incomprehensively bad behavior, the absolute whole cloth failure to represent the public interest,'' [Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper,] said. "They are clearly an ally of the gas industry and we know it and we see it not just in decisions but in the behavior they have toward the public."

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, also said LaFleur's comments are evidence of a cozy relationship between the energy commission and the industry it regulates.

"These comments just show that she shouldn't be on FERC,'' Tittel said. "Instead of regulating the industry she's supposed to regulate, she's cheerleading for them.'' [Emphasis added]

I left these comments, which seem no longer to appear on the website:

Whenever someone invokes “the public interest”—a conveniently undefinable term—you can bet that someone really means “the public, c’est moi,” demanding that “my interest should be enforced at the expense of the interests of all others by legalized force.”

And what is the pipeline opposition interest?

It is more than NIMBY hypocrisy—and much worse. It is primarily environmentalist opposition to the energy development our lives depend on. The “unprecedented opposition from local and national groups” Commissioner LaFleur refers to is a radical anti-pipeline jihadist movement ideologically opposed to fossil fuels, the most reliable, economical energy source available today. The anti-fossil fuel movement is part of a broader anti-energy agenda—these people also oppose nuclear, hydro, and often solar and wind projects—which in turn is an outgrowth of a broader anti-industrial, anti-development ideology that values unaltered nature over human life as its standard of value.

These organized groups are not concerned with legitimate worries, such as the threat of eminent domain to some property owners. They are not interested in finding the best pathway for the pipeline. They do not care about the consumers who would willingly buy the pipeline’s gas; nor the livelihoods of the builders and operators of the pipeline; nor the rights of natgas producers and consumers to voluntarily contract to mutual benefit. They aim to stop this pipeline, and all pipelines, because they are pipelines. They are truly energy enemies, and should be acknowledged as such.

It’s doubtful many average people would give up their reliable fossil energy source. Yet most people keep silent and let the energy enemies have the field. They shouldn’t. They should speak up in favor of their own best energy interests. Everyone, not just Maya K. van Rossum and her ilk, are part of the public. Everyone has a right to decide for themselves whether they wish to use fossil fuels or not. Don’t let the energy enemies decide for you. Follow my lead, which includes my two Hunterdon County Democrat letters—The rights of fossil fuel producers and Fossil fuels benefits far outweigh the coststhis statement posted to the FERC website, and numerous online comments such as these.

We should also grasp that the work of the natgas pipeline producers, and the fossil fuel industry more broadly, is immensely virtuous, not the villainous activity environmentalists portray it to be. If you value your life and well-being, let FERC know (docket number PF15-1-000 for PennEast Pipeline) how much you value your energy and your life, by posting comments supportive of pipelines.


If the jihadists’ pressure on FERC is even partly effective, it will spell bad news for the price and availability of the energy we need.

Related Reading:

Rights, Fossil Fuel Dangers, Future Generations, and the PennEast Pipeline

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