Special to Climate Depot
Written by Italia Federici — Reprinted With Permission
If the Left Gave a Damn, They’d Drill: How the Left is Selling-Out its Entire (Purported) Base on Behalf of the “Green” Lobby
By Italia Federici
In his Commentary Magazine article of April 11, 2011 Peter Wehner answers the question “Why We Should Give a Damn” in response to an article that raised the question of why the US should spill American blood to help the Afghan people. Wehner’s piece addresses why ambivalence toward suffering people is unacceptable, even if those suffering people are half a world away.
As part of his case for compassion, Wehner recalls the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan and writes that “…Jesus was teaching that love and mercy are not restricted by national boundaries.” Wehner is not suggesting that the US intervene in the instance of every case of suffering in the world. He writes:
“Now this ethic is not only intensely difficult to uphold in our daily lives, it’s extremely unclear how to translate it into public policy. A nation of limited resources cannot help everyone in need. We need to prioritize our commitments, including what we owe to our fellow citizens. And the compassion we might act on as individuals should not always express itself in action by the state.”
Agreed. We should, however, absolutely expect the state to “vote with our dollars” in a way that mirrors our national values. Along those lines I have one simple policy recommendation that would not only address “what we owe to our fellow citizens,” but what we owe the rest of the world as well. The United States must drill and mine its own energy resources.
Differing World Views
Crippling gasoline prices take their toll on American families and businesses. Conservatives assert that domestic exploration will lower energy costs for individuals and employers. Democrats and liberals know this is true. But the ideological divide between smaller-government, greater-personal-freedom-advocating conservatives, and wealth-distribution-advocating, nanny-staters is un-crossable with this monetary argument.
Here is why. Liberals are perfectly happy to see energy prices rise. They believe blocking domestic exploration, and thereby forcing the rising energy costs we see today, will benefit environmental quality in several ways. First, they disapprove of the act of exploration as inherently dirty and anti-environment. Second, higher energy costs, in their own words, will force conservation. Third, they hope higher energy costs will cripple manufacturing (another dirty activity) and force a transition – if even a violently unfair and callous one – to a “clean energy economy.” They want the economic pain that accompanies the lack of domestic exploration.
Liberals largely view the constituencies inconvenienced or bankrupted by this agenda as money-hungry, eco-loathing, resource-hogging American imperialists – otherwise known to them as conservatives. What they ignore is that the groups most harmed by their anti-domestic exploration agenda are members of their self-described liberal base: the poor, elderly, women, gays, union members, and children. They abandon these constituents on behalf of one constituency alone, the environmental lobby, yet their anti-drilling agenda is bad for the environment, too. As we approach yet another Earth Day, let’s look at what is really going on in the name of environmentalism.
Voting with Our Wallets
It’s simple. When we do not drill in the US we are forced to import oil from other countries.
Paul Chesser in his very good March 17, 2011 post for the American Spectator blog publishes a handy list of exactly who we fund by refusing to engage in our own domestic resource production. The beneficiaries listed are the National Iranian Oil Company, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Iraq National Oil Company, Qatar General Petroleum Corporation, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (UAE), Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Petroleos de Venezuela.S.A., Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, National Oil Company (Libya), and Sonatrach (Algeria). These are state-owned entities we now fund to the tune of 60 cents of each petroleum dollar spent in the US.
First let’s look at what affect this practice has on women and gays.
Last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the State Department’s new Women and Public Service Initiative. In her remarks Clinton referenced recent Arab world uprisings and acknowledged that countries “where girls and women are oppressed, where their rights are ignored or violated, […] are not only unstable, but hostile to our own interests.” In other words, these are not merely cultural differences. Perhaps her inclusion of that sentiment in the context of the Arab world has something to do with sharia law.
Each of the countries listed above with the sole exception of Venezuela is governed under the rule of sharia law. Sharia law demands the execution of homosexuals and permits husbands to hit their wives. It calls for the stoning to death of fornicators and adulterers, although far more women are executed for these infractions than men. A woman’s testimony in court only counts as half a man’s testimony. Two weeks ago the international news media was rightly outraged by the flogging to death of a 14 year old rape victim who was found guilty of “fornicating” under sharia law. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. According to The Council on Foreign Relations “…the UN estimates thousands of women are killed annually in the name of family honor… Other practices that are woven into the sharia debate, such as female genital mutilation, adolescent marriages, polygamy, and gender-biased inheritance rules, elicit as much controversy.”
Venezuela sanctions its own set of abuses. The State Department’s Human Rights Report on Venezuela states that “violence against women; trafficking in persons” are ongoing problems. It continues, “Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender, disability… discrimination against women, persons with disabilities…was a problem. Prostitution is legal. The country was reported to be a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.”
Clearly the policy of buying oil from these countries only serves to enrich states whose human rights violations against women and homosexuals is well documented – even by our own government and the United Nations – hardly conservative sources. We owe it to ourselves and to the world to safeguard, not undermine, the rights we hold dear.
What We Owe Our Fellow Citizens
The poor and the elderly pay a disproportionate share of their incomes for energy. A gallon of gas costs the same amount whether one falls economically under the poverty limit, is dependent on a social security check, or is a millionaire. Unlike the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) there is no financial assistance program for filling the gas tank.
The burden of high energy costs for families and businesses has reached the main stream media. The ABC Evening News lead story on April 11, 2011 was impending five dollar a gallon gas. Two critical lines of reasoning were raised in the story, ones that conservatives have warned about for years.
First, a young mother standing in front of a gas pump casually explained that in order to accommodate the rising gasoline prices she has cut back on “extras” for her child including reducing the child’s music lessons to one day a week. Next, a Moody’s economist was given approximately a nanosecond to explain that rising gas prices were in jeopardy of up-ending any economic recovery that might be underway. Then, without any further discussion, the next story of the day was up. Just that fast, the trickle down pain that is felt by families, children and the economy was glossed over.
Music lessons, a family outing to a baseball game, a weekend trip to a national park, all unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans. Forget renting an RV or going to Disney World. Quality of life is eroding, one simple pleasure, one night at the movies, one extra-curricular activity at a time.
Rising gas prices are a part of a one two punch that also includes the disappearance of the “family wage earning” job. Enter union members. A “family wage” job is union speak for a job that pays enough for one spouse or parent to support a household – somewhere in the 60k plus range depending on the region of the country. These are usually manufacturing jobs or jobs in energy intensive industries like transportation, or in the energy sector. As energy costs rise, those jobs disappear. The energy sector jobs that are unionized are largely domestic exploration jobs. Drilling is a unionized industry. Mining is a unionized industry. High gasoline prices harm the transportation sector which is heavily unionized. Even many of the manufacturing jobs lost throughout the country are unionized.
We owe it to our fellow citizens to develop our own resources. Choking off domestic exploration is devastating families, “family wage” jobs (regardless of whether they are union jobs or not), and the economy.
No Environmental Benefit
In order to justify their callousness toward economic suffering, the Left lies. First, they say this reduction in domestic exploration is good for the environment and second, they assert we are replacing dirty energy with clean energy. Untrue and untrue. Forty years ago David Brower, the founder of Earth Day, admonished Americans to Think Globally Act Locally. If the Left followed its own advice, we’d be drilling in the United States in order to save the planet.
In Nigeria, Shell Oil estimates saboteurs were responsible for the loss 14000 metric tons of oil into the Niger Delta in 2010 alone. In reporting about the capping of the well in the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, Newsweek wrote that in Nigeria oil spills “occur almost weekly”, that it is estimated there have been 7,000 oil spills in Nigeria in the past forty years, and that while the US gets 10% of our oil from Nigeria, we hear nothing about this environmental devastation.
Similar accounts exist regarding exploration in Algeria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, the rest. US environmental oversight and constraints are among the most stringent in the world. Not drilling in the US for environmental reasons in favor of drilling in Nigeria, Venezuela and the Middle East is ludicrous. Every drop of oil we import comes at an environmental cost exponentially larger for the planet than is in any way necessary or justifiable. In fact, it’s a slap in Mother Nature’s face, a statement that while we can explore responsibility, we choose not to.
The Left will argue that traditional dirty energy sources are being replaced with a new clean energy supply. Wrong. Wind, solar, bi-fuels are all heavily subsidized by the government and are light on delivery. Subsidizing industries does not render them functional. The problem with solar and ethanol subsidization is outlined very well by David Kreutzer for the Heritage Foundation here, including rising prices for consumers, solar energy’s lack of reliability and transmission capability, and the fact that market manipulation in the form of government subsidies and mandates can lead to bankruptcy for the companies on the receiving end.
The solar subsidization experiment is failing in Spain and in China. Once the government handout stops, the layoffs start. Add to that the short life cycle of a shoddily made Chinese solar panel and solar energy is in short supply while solar waste piles up. Another downside for the environment? Each impotent solar panel tossed away contains toxic cadmium and heavy metals like lead and mercury.
Wind is equally unimpressive. A recent UK study of its wind industry found that wind farms were “working at just 21% of capacity.” Environmental pioneer James Lovelock, the leader of the CFC ban in the 1970s, the father of the Gaia theory, cautions against the political-correctness bullying that is engaged in by renewable industry pushers and adds “If wind energy were the one practical and affordable answer to global warming then I would grit my teeth at the loss of the countryside and accept it. But I know that windfarms are no answer to global warming…”
So, why the large government handouts to the renewable energy sector? Perhaps the answer lies in this report from the Center for Public Integrity about who gets the US government’s renewable energy subsidies. The recipients appear to be very politically active Obama campaign donors. According to GreenBeat:
“The report suggested that four companies that Steve Westley, a managing partner at clean technology investment firm The Westley Group, has invested in received more than $500 million in loans, grants and stimulus money from the Department of Energy after Westley contributed $500,000 to the Obama campaign. The companies in Westley’s portfolio that received federal funding are Tesla Motors, RecycleBank, EdeniQ and Amyris Biotechnologies.
Both Amyris Biotechnologies and Tesla Motors have since gone public. Amyris is valued at $1.2 billion and Tesla Motors is valued at $2.5 billion. Westley said that the companies in his portfolio went through a strict screening process and were awarded each loan based on merit, and that each received the loan before he was an advisor to U.S.Department of Energy secretary Steven Chu, according to the report.”
The US government subsidization strategy has lead to massive handouts to the wind and solar industries, with politically active fund managers making a killing off the backs family wage earners, all with no environmental benefit to tout.
If the Left Cared, They’d Drill
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Barack Obama called for the US to “drill” in his pre-BP-oil-spill State of the Union Address in January of 2010. Bill Clinton recently called the delay in issuing off-shore drilling permits “ridiculous.” In fact, there was more domestic oil and gas exploration under the Clinton administration than there was under the presidency of George W. Bush.
However, this is a partisan issue. The Democratic party is completely hijacked by the “environmental” siren song. Anything called green, no matter how ineffective or downright insidious, is unthinkingly embraced. They have shown a complete willingness to sell out every other constituent in their base in favor of one group alone: the eco-lobby.
These new no-deal Democrats are willing financial backers of those who summarily execute homosexuals worldwide, they are willing backers of regimes that oppress and murder women, are against the creation of union “family wage” earning jobs, are the enemy of the poor and the elderly and are callous to the effects of economic deprivation upon children. If the Left gave a damn, they’d drill here at home and stop voting with our dollars to support human rights atrocities. They’d drill here at home to help American families and the US economy.
It is incumbent upon activists and political leaders to spend the next eighteen months and beyond communicating this message and righting this wrong. It’s what we owe our own citizens and it’s what we owe the world.
Italia Federici is the former president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA). Her expose of the modern environmental movement, Broken Trail, will be published next year. You can follow her on Twitter @Italia_Federici