The Ideological War That’s Destroying Environmentalism

German Renewables - Tom Shepstone ReviewsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.



There’s an ideological war going on that’s destroying the credibility of environmentalism as legitimate issues of many are engulfed in the advocacy of a few. 

Yesterday, I published an interview with Karen Orlando, one of our guest bloggers and a frequent commenter on this site. Karen is an environmentalist – a serious one – who wants to achieve things. She recognizes there are tradeoffs and ways to go about influencing events by becoming educated, knowing the facts and participating in the processes established for public input when projects are proposed. Her experience with the Rockaway Pipeline and Port Ambrose projects, though, left her aghast at the way those processes were taken over, co-opted, by ideologues who didn’t care a whit for the facts and were then reported by a gullible press that didn’t grasp them any better.

I encourage everyone to read the interview with Karen because these are the frustrations not of a oil and gas advocate and landowner like myself but, rather, of someone with real concerns who wanted to make a difference and saw the entire process be corrupted by individuals and groups whose mission wasn’t improving things, but simply stopping things as part of an ideological war against oil and gas. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening everywhere these days as exceedingly well-financed ideologues attempt (and, too often, get away with) taking over public input processes with the goal of furthering their war. Environmentalism is the loser.

The newest fronts in this ideological war is the battle over pipelines. It’s everywhere and everywhere completely irrational. NGI Daily published an excellent piece the other day laying out the problem and quoting FERC Commissioner Tony Clark (emphasis added):

“In years gone by, intervention in regulatory proceedings tended to be driven by those most directly affected by the energy project…but today there is an increasing trend towards ‘just say no’ intervention. This intervention is designed to block entire classes of infrastructure projects — either through outright denial or through a strategy of defeat through delay,” Clark said. “It is not opposition based on a particular project or its location; it is an opposition to all infrastructure as a matter of ideology. Often this opposition is from those expressing concern about climate change and carbon emissions.

“The irony is that much of this infrastructure is being necessitated by the very regulations that are being promulgated in the name of reducing carbon intensity in the electric generating sector.”

Clark has nailed it; some of those who claim to be interested in saving the climate show up to oppose the only obvious practical solution to the issue that brought them there. All they want to do is to “just say no.” How can this be? People seriously worried about the climate see natural gas as an integral part of the solution, but these folks don’t want to hear of it.

Well, the answer is that the stated motivation cannot be the real motivation unless every one of those “just say no” intervenors is as dumb as a box of rocks, There are plenty who fit that category and plenty of us who might like to think they’re all that misinformed, but this ignores the reality there are some very crafty people on the other side who are not misinformed but, rather, have a completely different agenda and have lots of money. They’re killing environmentalism and destroying whatever opportunities there are to work together on issues of emissions – all for the sake of an ideological war against oil and gas. Facts and reason have no sway with them except to the extent they can be marshaled into use in the war.

We have another example in challenges of landfill permits. It’s happening multiple places where those landfills are accepting drill cuttings for disposal. The ideologues have seized upon this as another choke point in their war against natural gas development, one of the most recent cases being an expansion of the Chemung County Landfill operated by Casella Resource Management. Located in the Southern Tier of New York, the landfill has been in existence for many years and has taken large quantities of drill cuttings from Pennsylvania gas wells for disposal. It was targeted for expansion long before taking those drill cuttings and plans for this have been before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for some time now. There is also a public comment period on those plans, which ends this coming Tuesday, December 8.

ideological warfare

Chemung County Landfill

Predictably, the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club is opposed and is organizing against the expansion, sending out an e-mail blast that includes this nonsense (emphasis added):

Tell the DEC not to grant the permits that will allow the Chemung County landfill to take more radioactive drilling waste…

Casella Waste Systems, which operates the Chemung County Landfill, is seeking to expand operations at the landfill to take more shale gas drilling waste from Pennsylvania, even though the landfill is already a top destination in New York for Pennsylvania drilling waste.

Despite widespread concerns, DEC is ignoring New York’s low-level radioactive waste laws and regulations which prohibit placement of low-level radioactive drilling wastes in municipal solid waste landfills such as the Chemung Landfill.

DEC claims that drilling wastes are exempt from the low-level radioactive waste laws, not because they are not radioactive, but because they are “naturally-occurring.” We contend that shale gas drilling wastes are processed and concentrated and are subject to the laws.

This hyperbole is countered by the absolutely thorough documentation found on Chemung County’s website, but notice how the Sierra Club simply asserts “widespread concerns.” They say it’s controversial, so it is. This is how ideological war proceeds. They also say this will make it possible to take more drill cuttings, even though it’s clear from the data the volume is actually decreasing and New York only takes 6% of the cuttings. Finally, they implant the false idea this is “radioactive waste” when, in fact, it’s simply rock with a certain amount of radioactivity in it and, guess what, most rock does contain radioactivity. The facts are nicely laid out in this presentation but here is the money slide:

ideological war

As the presentation explains, the maximum level of Radium that can be accepted at a Sewer Treatment Plant is 600 pCi/l, blue line. The treatment plant can only discharge 60 pCi/l to a stream, green line. Chemung County Landfill leachate is well below the discharge limit (indicated by the red dots), so far below the limits, in fact, that it barely registers. The Sierra Club, in other words, is full of it and take note they never claim the radioactivity a danger; they simply use the word as part of their ideological war against natural gas development. Their opposition has nothing to do with the landfill itself. As another of our readers and guest bloggers wrote to the DEC:

I support the permit request by Casella Waste Systems to take drilling waste at the Chemung County Landfill.  The radon from this waste is naturally occurring, underlies nearly all of the Southern Tier of NY and is easily dealt with current regulations. The scare mongering of the Sierra Club and others should be disregarded.

Amen to that and others who wish to make similar comments (many of you, I hope) can send them to Take a minute and do it.

The sad part of all this is that both Karen Orlando and the reader who brought this to our are strong advocates of the Clean Power Plan. They are true environmentalists who see natural gas as a solution. Yet, their voices are constantly in danger of being drowned out by the warriors in an ideological war against natural gas. These ideological warriors are killing environmentalism.

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5 thoughts on “The Ideological War That’s Destroying Environmentalism

  1. Ideological Phrases:

    The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself. -Club of Rome-

    “We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” -Stephen Schneider; Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports-

    “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” -Christine Stewart; former Canadian Minister of the Environment-

    Environmentalism as a movement has been supressed tot he maxim extent possible by the global warming movement. But Alarmism is not a movement it is an ideology.

    Ideology is not rational – it is based on unprovable beliefs. In the case of Global Warming, it is now a full blown Religion with it’s alarmist followers. What we need here is some separation of Church and State.

  2. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

    Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

    • The scary thing is – to what? Communism?, Totalatarianism?, Socialism?, Marxism? Maybe even worse is – who will be in charge? God help us!

      Since IPCC falls under the General Assembly, and the General Assembly is controlled by the majority, we only need to understand that the majority is the 3rd world countries. Hey, if I was them I’d be voting to “Redistribute the worlds wealth by Climate Policy” as OTTMAR EDENHOFER said. Then we only need to realize that he was part of the UN “Climate Mitigation Team” – in other words that is the solution????

      The short-term battle ground is clear. If you live in the US, or Germany for instance and you produce carbon (leading to CO2) then you need to be neutralized – if you live in China it’s OK though.

      If you are human – the end goal is to reduce the population …
      “One America burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladeshes. This is a terrible thing to say. In order to stabilize world population,we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it’s just as bad not to say it.” -Jacques Cousteau-
      “My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” -David Foreman; co-founder of Earth First!”

      Who decides who goes and who stays? David Foreman obviously thinks he still be around (the campfire? outside his cave?).


    I happen to believe there are more of us who can move beyond ideological warfare than you might think from reading the news. So for example the link above is to a news article about two former EPA adminstrators, both appointed by Republicans, who served under the Nixon, Reagan and Bush adminstrations that support the Clean Power Plan. And the current adminstrator has herself spoken more than once about the environmental benefits including reduced carbon dioxide emissions of natural gas.

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