Environmentalists have contributed a great deal to America and the rest of the world. The public has embraced many of their programs though many others receive only lukewarm support. History demonstrates that public support is mandatory for environmentalists to succeed.
Environmental proposals usually have high costs, and require people to make changes that may be difficult and unwelcome. Nevertheless, the public supports cost increases and lifestyle changes when environmental advocates present a credible case. Without credibility, environmental programs cannot gain momentum and ultimately fail.
Nothing undermines credibility like politicians taking positions that have no basis in logic or fact. The president’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline is unsupportable by fact or logic and gives his opponents an opening to brand all environmentalists as crackpots.
If building the pipeline caused more drilling for oil, the decision pushed by environmentalists would have been supportable. But the oil from Canada will be produced with or without the pipeline. Moreover, without the pipeline crude oil will be transported by truck, rail, and oceangoing tankers. Each of these transport methods is more dangerous and expensive than transport by pipeline.
There are many other benefits of the pipeline. And there are few compelling arguments against it. The president’s public statement included only vague references to climate change, an environmental issue with virtually no relationship to the pipeline. In effect, the president used the pipeline rejection as a political symbol.
Like many Americans, I favor environmental protection programs that make sense. Clean air, clean water, renewable energy, and a gradual phaseout of hydrocarbons are all worthy goals. We should be willing to fight for them.
But flakey decisions made as vague environmentalist symbols damage the credibility of all environmental improvement advocates. Mr. President: Please. Either lead or get out of the way.
My book “The Victory that Wasn’t” offers a fictional alternate history with a different kind of Military, and better outcomes for all Americans. It’s available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1GUL8oX