Sierra Club’s New Campaign to Kill Natural Gas

An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports on the Sierra Club’s new campaign to kill the natural gas industry—the same way the group contributed to the demise of the coal industry in the U.S. and the same way they killed off the nuclear power industry for the past 30 years.

…one of the most powerful environmental lobbies, the Sierra Club, is mounting a major campaign to kill the [natural gas] industry.

The battle plan is called "Beyond Natural Gas," and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune announced the goal in an interview with the National Journal this month: "We’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can." The big green lobbying machine has rolled out a new website that says "The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok" and that "The closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be." So the goal is to shut the industry down, not merely to impose higher safety standards.

This is no idle threat. The Sierra Club has deep pockets funded by liberal foundations and knows how to work the media and politicians. The lobby helped to block new nuclear plants for more than 30 years, it has kept much of the U.S. off-limits to oil drilling, and its "Beyond Coal" campaign has all but shut down new coal plants. One of its priorities now will be to make shale gas drilling anathema within the Democratic Party.

The political irony is that not too long ago the Sierra Club and other greens portrayed natural gas as the good fossil fuel. The Sierra Club liked natural gas so much (and vice versa) that from 2007-2010 the group received $26 million in donations from Chesapeake Energy and others in the gas industry, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Some of that money was for the Beyond Coal campaign.

One reason for this once-mutual affection is that natural gas produces much less carbon emissions than does coal—and the Sierra Club claims to want fewer such emissions.*

So if natural gas emits less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that’s one of the Sierra Club’s stated objectives, why have they now turned against natural gas?

So why is the Sierra Club suddenly portraying natural gas as a villain? The answer surely is the industry’s drilling success. The greens were happy to support natural gas as a "bridge fuel to the 21st century" when it cost $8 or more per million BTUs and seemed to be in limited domestic supply.

But now that the hydraulic fracturing and shale revolution has sent gas prices down to $2.50, the lobby fears natural gas will come to dominate U.S. energy production. At that price, the Sierra Club’s Valhalla of wind, solar and biofuel power may never be competitive. So the green left has decided it must do everything it can to reduce the supply of gas and keep its price as high as possible.*

Because of a sick, twisted philosophy that everyone must start using so-called alternative energy sooner rather than later, the Sierra Club is perfectly content to sentence Americans to obscenely high energy prices. No thanks. Hopefully you don’t support the Sierra Club with your money.

*Wall Street Journal (May 30, 2012) – Sierra Clubs Natural Gas