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Richard Larsen: Selfishness of Radical Environmentalists

October 1st, 2011 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

I am continually astounded at the selfishness and egotism of some individuals, and some special-interest groups. An attitude that’s pervasive with anti-growth, anti-development, anti-progress groups that, by their actions, proudly and arrogantly proclaim, “I’ve got mine, so now I’ll prevent everyone else from getting theirs.”

Perhaps the most blatant, self-serving, and extreme versions of this selfishness is manifested by radical environmental groups. I’ve never been a big George Carlin fan, but his characterization of the radical environmental movement was spot-on. In his distinctive sardonic fashion, he would say, “We’re so self-important. Everybody is going to save something now. Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails. And the greatest arrogance of all, save the planet. What?

“I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths, people trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are (bleep).”

As inhabitants of the “blue planet,” we should all be “environmentalists.” We have a vested interest in protecting our habitation, preserving our quality of life, and ensuring the same for future generations. The problem arises at the extreme ends of the environmental protection spectrum.

Case in point is the ongoing “megaloads” issue in North Idaho. If you’ll recall, Canadian-based Imperial Oil, the world’s largest producer of synthetic oil harvested from oil sands, is investing $8 billion in expanded operations in Alberta. Included in that investment is $100 million in transportation costs to transport 35,000 tons of South Korean-made mining equipment across northern Idaho’s U.S. Highway 12, which has been handling over-sized loads safely for 20 years, from the Port of Lewiston.

Environmental extremists groups like Advocates for the West, Natural Resource Defense Council, and Friends of the Clearwater have done everything imaginable to prevent the shipment of the oversized loads over Idaho and Montana highways to Sweetgrass, MT where they cross the border into Canada. They have petitioned the respective Transportation Departments in the two states, they have filed injunctions and lawsuits in court, and even had some prepubescent malcontents from their ranks attempt to block the shipments by “sit ins” on the highways.

Let’s put this in perspective. Like it or not, oil is the literal fuel to our economy. The U.S. economy, and the world economy are struggling in spite of all the Keynesian “stimulus” spending that has buried the nation in debt. This week alone the Dow Industrial Average gave up 700 points in two days because of indications of another global recession. We’re still hovering at nearly 10% unemployment (closer to 17% according to the Wall Street Journal), and government is adding more and more deterrents to economic growth and job growth than ever before through regulation. There were 604 new regulations added in July alone. These shipments represent significant economic activity, job generation, and more energy production, all of which are sorely lacking today.

Frankly I would understand such resistance to these shipments if they were permanently damaging the state and our resources. But these are trucks, hauling equipment. They pose a minor inconvenience for midnight travelers.

Opponents argue that they could fall into the river. Anything’s possible, but everything we do has risks. When the rewards for the risks ventured are greater, we do them. Are we to the point in society where we are only willing to try something that’s 100% safe?

Interestingly, these groups are also fighting large shipments by Weyerhaeuser, a “green” energy company, that wants to ship oversized loads of equipment to a mill in Alberta that will generate fewer CO2 emissions from their facility there. If they were consistent in their assertion that they’re “saving the earth” shouldn’t they be facilitating, rather than blocking those shipments?

But such logical contradictions are commonplace with such illogical extremists. A recent blogger on the Journal weblogs admitted honestly, “Yes, I’m a walking contradiction. My concerns for Highway 12 are for the aesthetics…” That was after admitting the wind turbines west of American Falls are, “pleasing to the eye” even though such wind turbines permanently alter the landscape and are killing thousands of birds, many of which are on the Endangered Species List.

The risk to reward ratio is superb for this venture. The risk is negligible while the reward is significant in the form of increased supply of oil for everyone and economic velocity which the country is in short supply of these days. There is nothing to be gained, yet much to lose by blocking these shipments. The earth is not “saved” by successfully blocking them, leaving the only benefit as an inflated sense of self-importance and a “feel good” sensation for those extremists. The price of which we pay collectively.

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