walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
Times Blasts Greens, Spares Obama

Here’s something we don’t see every day: the Times‘ op-ed page sticking it to the greens in a devastating piece by columnist Joe Nocera. Here at Via Meadia we’ve flagged the President’s decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline as one of the most baffling and damaging decisions of his Administration, and now this viewpoint is being echoed on in the pages of the Times. Nocera goes beyond the familiar (and apt) criticism that the pipeline decision will hurt American jobs while rejecting our best chance in decades to achieve a measure of energy independence to note that the decision has damaged America’s relationship with Canada on energy policy. By spurning our most reliable energy provider, we have forced the Canadians to look elsewhere. Oil intended for U.S. consumption may now be used in China instead (where the environmental impact is the same as it would have been here). The greens’ folly goes even further:

As it turns out, the environmental movement doesn’t just want to shut down Keystone.  Its real goal, as I discovered when I spoke recently to Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, is much bigger.  “The effort to stop Keystone is part of a broader effort to stop the expansion of the tar sands,” Brune said.  “It is based on choking off the ability to find markets for tar sands oil.”

This is a ludicrous goal.  If it were to succeed, it would be deeply damaging to the national interest of both Canada and the United States.  But it has no chance of succeeding.  Energy is the single most important industry in Canada.  Three-quarters of the Canadian public agree with the Harper government’s diversification strategy.  China’s “thirst” for oil is hardly going to be deterred by the Sierra Club. And the Harper government views the continued development of the tar sands as a national strategic priority.

But at the Times, our king can do no wrong. Rather than taking President Obama to task for an obviously counterproductive decision, Nocera argues that “in his centrist heart of hearts, the president wanted to approve it,” and that “poisoned politics” forced his hand. This may or may not be true, but even if it is, Obama should hardly be absolved for placing the demands of a small interest group over the interests of America as a whole.

Still, when even columnists at the New York Times call the Sierra Club’s core policy stance ludicrous and disastrous, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Mrs. Davis

    Consider this post together with the one below. On the international stage who does the environmentalists effort to strangle shale gas and tar sands development benefit? The middle eastern regimes who use their petro-dollars to finance terrorism and the Chinese totalitarians. Environmentalism makes strange bedfellows.

  • LarryD

    “Environmentalism” includes at least three different agendas.

    1. people seeking to validate themselves “I support the environment, therefore I am a good person.”

    2. upper status people rationalizing behavior that will guard their status, they want to deny other people opportunity for advancement, lest they achieve status greater than their own.

    3. “watermelons” (green on the outside, red on the inside), ex-Marxists who realized that Marxism wasn’t going to provide them with a path to power, but environmentalism could.

  • Kenny

    1. This is one reason by the New York Times is dying. Last year, it lost $20 million.

    2. Larry D has nailed it. He did leave out one catagory, however — the useful idiots, the dupes.

  • http://www.poisonyourmind.com reflectionephemeral

    This is deeply silly.

    The decision’s timeframe was moved up by Congress, resulting in a denial. The pipeline may still be approved on the original timetable, sometime next year.

    And there was opposition (which I believe has died down) from the GOP in Nebraska on this. It’s silly to portray this as a simple “the greens vs. righteousness” thing.

    The pipeline would have created about a few thousand temporary construction jobs– which isn’t nothing, but nor is it a solution to our unemployment problem.

    What’s more, the pipeline was designed to export oil to Europe and Latin America. And oil is a fungible good. No one ever thought it was going to carry enough capacity to affect world prices.

    Now, it’s perfectly legitimate to favor the construction of this pipeline; but it is tendentious and reality-averse to imagine that it will meaningfully address dependence on foreign oil or jobs.

    It is quite clear that you don’t like “the greens”. That’s fine, I don’t like the Yankees. We all have our biases. But let’s don’t let them obscure our ability to think rationally about policy.

  • Mrs. Davis

    it is tendentious and reality-averse to imagine that it will meaningfully address dependence on foreign oil or jobs.

    It is tendentious and reality-adverse to underestimate the quantity of energy below our feet in shale gas and tar sands and the implications of their development for both international relations and jobs.

  • A. F.

    In China, you can blame the Gang of Four and Lin Biao but not Mao himself for the horrors of the Cultural Revolution(even though it was Mao who unleashed the violence).
    Same with ObaMao. It’s never his fault. Just blame those around him. The liberal elite invested too much money and time into the neo-messiah. He can’t be touched.

  • nadine

    One correction: the environmental impact of sending the Canadian oil to China is worse than sending it to Houston. Not only do you have to transport it farther and by ship, you are sending it to dirty Chinese refineries instead of clean American ones.

  • Toni

    reflectionephemeral wrote, “What’s more, the pipeline was designed to export oil to Europe and Latin America.”

    You are thunderously wrong. The pipeline would have taken oil to Gulf Coast refineries to be processed into jet fuel, gasoline and other products — INSTEAD OF oil imported from the Middle East.

    You’re also wrong that this is a temporary decision. If Obama gets another four years, it will be permanent.

    I also find your attitude about the “few thousand temporary jobs” snooty. There would have been 10,000 construction jobs, plus permanent ones operating and maintaining the pipeline. Now, in our fourth year of high unemployment, every job counts. I’m guessing you have a decent, secure job where you don’t have to worry or even think about the blue collar workers who would’ve built this pipeline.

    I also suspect that your overarching belief is “Obama Can Do No Wrong.” My opinion is that you don’t really care about the facts — such as that the GOP didn’t create an artificial deadline; Obama had been sitting on the decision for two years — if they get in the way of your belief.

  • Toni

    It’s possible that Joe Nocera knows better than to believe in Obama’s saintliness, and that those comments were edited in. He started at Texas Monthly and eventually became an editor at Fortune before moving to the Times.

    When two of his Fortune writers were working on a book about post-bust Enron, I got them in contact with a key Enron figure — with the proviso that Nocera sit in on the interview, to ensure that his superior business judgment understood and protected the guy. (If anyone is curious, the guy became chapter called The First Prima Donna in the ensuing book, The Smartest Guys in the Room.) I’d never have done so if I thought Joe was a liberal incapable of perceiving facts that don’t conform to his liberal dogma.

    As if any of you has cause to care. I’m a former journalist who knows the process and cares deeply about the result. But, heck, I’ll post this anyway.

  • Corlyss

    NYT must be temporarily fevered of Pinch is on vacation somewhere. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the envirothugs have wanted for 30 years.

    The real sociological puzzle is how one and a half party has been hijacked by a movement that is so hostile to our national interests that it would have been denounced by both parties as subversive in halcyon days.

  • Vilmos

    I happen to think that this has a good chance to become a blessing in disguise.

    So the environmentalists (through Obama) successfully torpedoed, maybe only temporarily, the project. And what did they offer instead? Nothing. We know they are good at denying things, but other than a green utopia, they can’t offer anything. The oil industry might be dirty, in more than one sense, but they *DO* offer something we all need.

    I wouldn’t be surprised, if this would be the albatross around the greens’ necks. If so, then this will be a real blessing in disguise.

    And hopefully the people who really care about the environment will kick out those who offer nothing but obstruction, and those who use it to advance their inner watermelon.

    Vilmos

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service