New Energy Tech Is Safe, Clean
Posted: February 20, 2013
Environmental groups use fear and shame and spread disinformation that threatens U.S. technological progress, economic growth and energy security. (Photo by Associated Press )
Today another form of the ancient cure is being touted by radical environmentalists. They want to stop the use of fossil fuels — the lifeblood of the economy — ostensibly to save the planet. But rather than rely on surgical precision, they use scare tactics and societal guilt to push the public their way.
Consider the recent commentary by Leslie Grady Jr., warning readers about the harvesting of Canada’s oil sands and construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (“Keystone Pipeline Is A Bad Idea,” Feb. 7). The author not only misuses data to reach frightening conclusions, which he claims are “severely testing human civilization,” but also tells consumers they are “complicit” in causing a potential cataclysm.
Grady’s naked attempt to put everyone on a guilt trip illustrates how environmental groups use fear and shame. Not content with wasting taxpayers’ money on failed Solyndra-like pet projects, they spread disinformation that threatens U.S. technological progress, economic growth and energy security.
Set aside Grady’s gloom-and-doom prognostications and look at the facts. The environment is markedly cleaner. Since the 1970s, regulations and voluntary actions by industry have greatly reduced air pollution, improved water quality, and increased energy efficiency. The brown haze that once enveloped the Los Angeles Basin has dissipated, bald eagles have been removed from the endangered species list, and human life expectancy in the United States has climbed to 78.7 years. These gains occurred despite significant growth. Meanwhile, our population grew by more than 100 million and Gross Domestic Product tripled.
More good news: Last year, carbon dioxide emissions declined to the lowest level since 1992. Analysts attribute
much of the emissions decline to advanced technologies that are increasing natural gas supplies, lowering its price, and moving us to energy independence. According to the International Energy Agency, the United States will become the world’s largest gas producer by 2015 and will surpass Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer before 2020.
New technology also make it possible to extract oil from Canada’s oil sands without mining. Steam-assisted gravity drainage heats the thick underground bitumen deposits, separate the oil from the sand, and coax the oil to the surface.
This new process preserves forests, reduces emissions, and avoids mining. Where mining has occurred, the oil industry has reclaimed the land layer by layer and replanted it with native vegetation. One former oil sands mine has become a research facility and breeding operation for Canada’s Wood Bison, which had been nearly wiped out by disease.
Advanced energy production technology also creates jobs. Energy expert Daniel Yergin says the production of shale oil and gas supports 1.7 million U.S. jobs, a figure expected to rise to 3 million by 2020.
If the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is approved, 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs would be created
almost immediately, while hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs would be generated by Canadian oil sands development. An analysis by the Canadian Energy Research Institute found that every state in the union, including Virginia, would experience job growth, and the nation’s refining industry would receive an additional 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from our friendly neighbor to the north. Canada is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and offers an secure and uninterrupted supply of oil.
On the other hand, if Canada’s sands-derived oil is not transported to the United States, it will be sold to Asian countries, including China. China’s carbon dioxide emissions — the most of any country — already equal 28 percent of the world’s total.
Without doubt, the United States and the environment would benefit from importing more Canadian oil and the Keystone pipeline — jobs created, economies improved. Yet, President Obama has again delayed any decision on the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the patient — the U.S. economy — remains on life support, being kept alive in part by artificial stimulus programs. Like blood-letting, this treatment is not a cure. Increased energy production and more projects like the Keystone pipeline are the medicine America needs.
Mr. Banks lives in Timberville.