These days the only word spoken by environmentalists is “no” – no development, no growth, no change. And just like toddlers, the movement cannot be reasoned with or made to compromise. The trouble is that such childish intransigence is hurting many more people than it helps.
Take the fight over a new natural gas pipeline in New Jersey that last week ended in a defeat for the project. “I hurt my back doing cartwheels,” was Jeff Tittel’s, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, oh-so-mature response to the news. “This is the biggest environmental win we’ve had” during the Christie administration, he said. What Tittel describes as a victory would have meant jobs to many and lower energy bills for hundreds of thousands.
The proposal was for 22 miles of 24-inch pipeline through Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties (combined population 535,000) in order to provide the B.L. England Plant located in Beesley's Point, Cape May County with natural gas. You might even have thought environmentalists would get behind such a project given that the plant was to be converted from coal-fired to natural gas, which is more efficient and much cleaner. Also, the pipeline project was supported by local labor union leaders who said unemployment among their membership is as high as 40 percent in some locals. They saw the plan for a pipeline followed by the $400 million-conversion of BL England as a source of good jobs.
There’s another reason for environmentalists to support well-considered pipeline projects such as this, because there’s a lot of natural gas and oil that has to be moved from the place where it is extracted to where it will be used and that is happening by train if it isn’t happening through pipelines. Which is safer? Well, don’t try to tell those who have experience with rail explosions, such as the people of Lac Megantic, Quebec, who lost 47 of their fellow citizens, or the folks in Casselton, North Dakota, as Jillian Kay Melchior so ably explained, that train transport is safer than pipelines. History also shows that “pipelines result in fewer spillage incidents and personal injuries than road and rail,” reports the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth.
Yet not even an environmentally friendly energy source, safer distribution, more jobs for local workers and lowering the bills of hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans was good enough for the enviro-extremists. They were too concerned that a single leaf, frog or pebble might be disturbed by digging up the ground around pre-existing roads because the proposed route was to pass through the 1.1 million-acre Pinelands preserve. Got that? 22 miles of pipeline that would have been dug alongside roads was just too much “destruction” within a million-plus acre wilderness. This is a “wilderness” that already has “transmission lines” (aka pipelines) by the way. The anti-pipeline position is not based on a responsible, mature cost-benefit analysis. This is pint-size thinking and toddler-age analysis with a vocabulary limited to one word – no.
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