What Exactly Are “Environmentalists” Advocating?

"Environmentalists" - MarkindDaniel B. Markind, Esq.
Weir and Partners, LLP


The mushy answers so-called environmentalists too often give regarding real energy issues don’t that help much with solving real world problems Dan Markind says.

The tragic shooting last Wednesday of House Republican Whip Steve Scalise brought into sharp focus the shrill, brain-damaged discourse of our current politics.  We discuss less shout, usually past each other, and often using words meant less to educate and persuade than to dismiss.  Those of us in the energy field see this every day.  It’s almost impossible to have a reasoned discussion about the issues without degenerating into name-calling.  So, let’s start changing that dynamic right here and now, and attempt to convince instead of insult.


For starters, I’ll give an example of how the energy debate starts with facts then devolves into unproven generalities and innuendo with this Ithaca Times story from June 9.

In many ways the story by Nick Reynolds is quite good and accurate.  The amount of power produced by “renewable” sources is growing, and hit 10% of the first time last month.  New York is moving aggressively in the “renewable” area.  In fact, most if not all Mr. Reynold’s statements in the piece are accurate.  However, if you look closely you’ll see how the author either glances over or gives the benefit of the doubt to issues concerning “renewables”.  Here are three, with my highlighting:

“aging dirty energy infrastructure, the slew of subsidies available from the state and the potential for growth have made New York a prime target for investment, even in the uncertain environment of cloudy upstate New York, where solar panels are up to 40 percent less effective – and far less predictable in regards to output and revenue – than in a state like Nevada or California.”

“with limited room to rely on renewables such as wind and solar – especially in the unpredictable weather of upstate New York – more hydroelectric and nuclear power may need to be relied on to take on the baseload of the state’s energy demand as renewable energy sources seek to be the replacement for coal and natural gas.”

“Largely, solar and wind investments have largely had to rely primarily on credits from the state and federal government. And, because of uncertainties in the weather and an inability to store energy, solar and wind facilities have little guarantee of any sort of consistency in predicting rates…”

OK then, what exactly is being proposed?  More dams for hydro?  More nuclear?  Having gone to High School 40 miles up the road from Ithaca, I’m very familiar with Central New York winters.  It will come as no surprise that solar panels are far less effective in Central New York than in the Mojave Desert.  But Mr. Reynolds fails to ask the next question, which is the crux of the whole issue.  If the weather is cloudy, snowy and cold (which often it is), and if you can’t store the energy produced previously from solar and wind, what exactly are the “environmentalists” advocating?


Higley hydroelectric station in New York. Floods 742 acres. Produces 6.2 MW of electricity (enough for 5,400 homes). Using hydro to power all New York homes would take roughly 1 million acres of impoundments like this one, to say nothing of commercial power needs or the need of land for other uses.

Put simply, to have a legitimate debate and discussion on energy issues, you can’t wish away your problems.  Just as the shale industry can’t assume away issues regarding wastewater and well construction, the “environmentalists” can’t assume we possess the technology for solar and wind to provide us with the energy we need when and where we need it. It does not yet exist.  Solar and wind are great technology but currently have their limits.  Natural gas is great technology and currently has its issues.  Let’s discuss the options on a true and not fanciful basis.

Now, three quick stories.

First, on April 18 I wrote that  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, by denying Section 401 Clean Streams Permits to the Northern Access Pipeline after taking the same stance regarding the Constitution Pipeline, is issuing a direct challenge to the centrality of FERC’s control over pipeline siting.

Sensing an opening, on June 9 a collection of “environmental” groups such as The Sierra Club, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the Indian Creek Watershed Association sued the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for issuing a Section 401 Permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project.  It appears now that these groups will use the 401 process to try to delay and ultimately deny the pipeline infrastructure buildout.  Once again we will go to the Courts for clarity on what process actually exists regarding pipeline construction.  Imagine the waste of time and money.

Second, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled in Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board  that some of these same ”environmental groups” did not have the right to challenge a local zoning board’s decision to allow oil and gas permits in Residential-Agricultural area.  This line of cases limits the Robinson decision but really is common sense.

Having based much of that decision on the idea that the State could not usurp the locality’s right to make its own zoning rules, there was a  certain amount of gall in the Riverkeeper’s argument that this locality should not have the right to make local zoning decisions as it reached conclusions that differed from the “environmental” movement position.

Third and finally, Greece, Israel and Cyprus announced on Friday that they would speed up plans for the development of the Leviathan and Tamar fields in the Mediterranean.  Included would be a pipeline project due in 2025 that would carry natural gas from Israel to Europe.  The plan would link Israel to Cyprus, Greece and possibly Italy at a cost of $6.7B.  Ironically, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the project at a news conference in the port city of Thessaloniki.

Students of history will know that prior to World War II, Thessaloniki was known as Salonika and was run almost entirely by Greek Jews.  They kept the port closed during Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Most of that community was murdered in the Holocaust.  Now, 75 years later, Israel may be breaking economic and energy barriers by importing gas to the same port where so many Greek Jews were killed during the War.  How life comes full circle.

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16 thoughts on “What Exactly Are “Environmentalists” Advocating?

  1. Both sides have issues…
    Storage for solar needs to be vigorously developed which it is
    like by Musk and others…
    The pipeline in Cyprus , etc. hopefully is not being​ built next to the homes and the extraction is not next to their homes like here in Pà..
    Thanks for not insulting anyone ….

  2. What is the antifracking pipeline resistance movement advocating and or saying?

    1. Most importantly this movement advocates that natrual gas because it is fracked is more impactful than coal.

    2. The ferc is a rogue agency. The ferc commits “communicide”. The ferc is an enemy of the people

    3. Fracking must be banned everywhere and no new infrackstructure which is pipelines, power plants, lng facilities and more should not be built.

    4. In the united States fracking must be banned on federal lands

    5. Committing crimes such as breaking into pipline facilities in order to shut off valves is an exercise in free speech.

    6. It’s good to put your body on the line for the war effort.

    7. It is completely ok to lie under oath at NYC council hearings, to reporters, policy makers and more

    8. It is totally ok to visit ferc commissioners at their homes or army corps commanders.

    9. The only solution to both the energy and climate change issue is the solutions project. The future does not include nuclear energy.

    10. No agency that has authority in any capacity to permit any part of oil and gas infrastrucutre from well to pipeline knows what they are doing and none have real authority as “the people” (and by that the anitfrackng pipeline resistance movement believes it represents and is the american citizenry) don’t recognize their authority.

    That’s not a comprehensive list by any means either.

  3. http://uproxx.com/news/big-oil-politics-california-jerry-brown/

    People should look at this. It’s not about natrual gas but it does feature two people who were important in the new York antifracking pipeline resistance movement. David Braun and Sandra steingraber. Neither is credible on the subject of fracking, infrackstructure, lng and more. And reporters and policy makers and agencies like the NY DEC which banned fracking ,frankly should have realized as much in 2013. In 2013 not only was the antifracking movement promoting a conspiracy theory on export about the port Ambrose lng import project it was saying that lng couldn’t be regulated or permitted in NY State period.

    Where is that video? On a new media platform. Being broadcast. Is it targeting a politican? Yes. Jerry brown of California.

    So an editor or reporter covers something poorly. One sided story and the sources or people featured aren’t credible! That’s the history and it’s the present with this movement. This is a massive problem.

  4. Vera, you’re welcome for not insulting people. It’s not my style. It’s also a bad way of persuading people.

    I agree with you that these “renewable” storage and transmission technologies need to be developed. As you know, I do a lot of work in solar and wind. Actually, I make more money in solar than in natural gas.

    I support continued federal and state research monies being used to study ways to make our energy cleaner. Until cleaner technologies are ready to truly power our economy, however, if they ever are, what do we do? We can’t just wish the problem away.

    What exactly is your plan? I appreciate that, as we all do, you have your viewpoint and it’s unfair to ask you, Vera, to come up with a full plan. With so much funding and research money out there now in the academic and “enviro” world, however, it’s totally fair to ask that question of the movement. If we don’t frac, and we’re not there technologically with solar, wind, etc, what do we do in the interim? Do we ration? Do we continue to rely on unstable places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to import our gas and oil? In effect this means we will pay a terror tax to these countries.

    In addition to that, we make these countries more important to our vital American interests than they need be. Personally, I don’t want my son (or anyone else’s) being sent to a part of the world we don’t understand to risk death protecting a resource we don’t need. We still import gas and oil by the way, but thanks to the shale revolution they can’t be used as a weapon against us as they were back in the 1970’s and 80’s. If we don’t frac, we’re back to that stage.

    If the “environmental” community has a real plan for how we’re going to power our country over the next 20 years using “renewable” sources, then please let’s see it. We then can critique it, constructively, the same way that honest critics of shale gas and oil critique the fracking process.

    But to all the “environmental” community I say for the good of the country, and really all of humanity, the time for just saying what you’re against is long past gone. It;s time to explain, with real specificity, exactly what you are for.

    • I’m for energy that does not impinge on my right to safety ,clean air, clean water and stays in this country and not exported to other countries…come live next to gas development and then tell me how good it is..
      Solutions Project of NY is one solution ..

      • Sure Vera, as you say solutions project is “one solution”. In reality Jacobson, who is an antfracking activist and part of the antifracking movement , is name dropped regularly as her his studies and plans by the antifracking movement at hearings of all kinds. That’s been so for years.

    • https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/06/19/a-bitter-scientific-debate-just-erupted-over-the-future-of-the-u-s-electric-grid/

      Jacobsons plan is in the news as a matter of fact today. I haven’t read the whole article though but Jacobson has been working with the antifracking movement for some time. That is a fact.

      Jacobson’s plan is the antifracking movement and others who follow the movement or all with it or have learned from it’s solution. And his plan just for NY alone was described as a thought exercise more than anything else by andrew revkin in his blog at the nytimes years ago. Maybe 4?

      I have met these activists in person and been on listserve that are not public with them. They do not share all the information that is necessary in order for people to make informed decisions and that’s a kind way to put it because there is flat out lying and distortion as well.

  5. It is impossible to have any kind of enlightened discussion of energy issues with gross ignorance of the issues such as this. These are political hacks pure and simple with absolutely no idea how much energy is used every day or the difficulty in getting it to the consumer. Pull up to the pump in their car and fill it up, no problem (“I only use a few gallons”). Go home, flip on the lights, the computer, the TV (ad infinitum). Turn on the hot water to draw a soothing hot bath. They have no clue where the energy comes from to do these things. It is impossible to discuss it with them.

  6. http://thesolutionsproject.org/

    The antifracking movement has been pushing their solution for some time. It is something called the solution project. No natural gas, no nuclear.

    And in New york state the groups getting grants from the solutions project are certainly interesting. The Energy Democracy Alliance is just one example.



  7. Regarding development of Leviathan Natural Gas in Meditterraeam by Delek [Tel Aviv] and Noble Energy {Houston) to help achieve economic relationships between Israel and her Arab neighbors please see the following link Richard W Goodwin West Palm Beach FL 6/19/17

    Goodwin, R.W.; “Natural Gas Assures Israel’s Future”; Energy Pulse Weekly; February 24, 2011

  8. The Ithaca Times 6/7 issue is a leftist propaganda piece for renewables. The only realistic thing said was “Cayuga power plant looks to dabble in solar”.

    It’s full of rosy optimal projections (in the 2nd cloudiest place in the nation) that completely ignore heat and hot water requirements “as the age of natural gas comes to its twilight”. Please….

  9. Make no mistake- cuomo energy policy is boutique elitist fantasy and government by propaganda press releases. NY is relying on ever increasing natural gas from out of state.

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