By Steve Milloy
Three major oil and gas pipelines have been scuttled or delayed this month. Is cancel culture coming for America’s newfound energy dominance?
Recently, Virginia and North Carolina utilities threw in the towel on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have brought fracked natural gas from West Virginia to the two states for domestic use and export. Although the developers had won a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling in May, the mounting and seemingly never-ending legal and regulatory processes and costs, coupled with the prospect of an anti-fracking and anti-economic growth Biden administration, were just too discouraging.
On Monday, a U.S. district court in Washington ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline, running from North Dakota to Illinois, to halt operations pending a new environmental review. On the same day, the Supreme Court upheld the federal court’s stop-work order on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast for refining.
All three pipelines have been vigorously opposed by radical environmental groups, often hiding behind Native American tribes. Despite years of detailed and thorough regulatory review by state and federal agencies, the greens and their tribal allies have always been able to find a court willing to frivolously rule that some essential “i” has not been dotted or some vital “t” has not been crossed.
It’s as though we don’t already have plenty of safe experience with pipelines. In fact, the United States has about 1.6 million miles of pipelines, including 500,000 miles that carry crude oil and large-volume natural gas. Pipelines work and are safe for the environment, especially with modern leak detection and repair technologies. Not to mention the fact that pipelines are obviously safer than transporting oil via less efficient and more expensive railroad tankers.
The saving grace is that there are railroads, other pipelines in operation, and approved expansions that will continue to transport oil and gas from wells in West Virginia and North Dakota and oil sand mines in Canada — for now, that is.
But storm clouds are on the horizon in the form of a Joe Biden administration. Although the Biden campaign is desperately trying to keep a lid on what its energy polices would be, the end of American energy dominance is what’s coming.
In May, a Democratic National Committee panel on climate and the environment, headed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged Biden to ban fracking — the key to our energy dominance. But as that position would be a sure loser, Democratic elders stepped in to squash any talk of a fracking ban.
More recently, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force issued a corrective climate plan that omitted mention of a fracking ban or the Green New Deal. Although Ocasio-Cortez was on the task force, and despite her strong advocacy for banning fracking and for the Green New Deal, those views were totally silenced. But you can bet that they are still held by many Biden supporters, including Ocasio-Cortez, and they are what will be implemented if he’s the next president.
The Biden campaign recently announced yet another panel of climate advisors — one that includes Carol Browner, the former Clinton EPA chief and the Obama administration czar for the environment and energy. Browner was the mastermind behind obtaining the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which allowed EPA to regulate greenhouse gases despite lacking any sort of authorization by Congress. Browner also masterminded the Obama administration’s infamous war on coal, which destroyed 95% of the market value of the coal industry, killed 50,000 high-paying coal industry jobs, and sent many coal communities into desperate financial and social circumstances.
With the coal industry essentially finished off, it will now be fracking’s turn under a Biden administration.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton made the mistake of talking about putting coal miners out of work. That bit of honesty from Clinton clearly backfired in battleground states like Pennsylvania. The Biden campaign will not be making the same mistake.
To obtain power, the Biden campaign has sealed the loose lips of socialist radicals like Ocasio-Cortez. Browner, a former commissioner for Socialist International, is smart enough on her own to stay mum. She will just point to the long-term and seemingly benign goal of making the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2050.
If Biden wins in November, immediately following his inauguration in January, the Browner and Ocasio-Cortez agenda will emerge in open control of the Biden energy policies. U.S. energy dominance? Sorry: canceled.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com, served on the Trump EPA transition team and is the author of Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA (2016, Bench Press).