Robert Bryce (author of a number of excellent energy books) takes a closer look at the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental groups in the world, with annual revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars:
Proving why this is so takes only a modicum of research. The Sierra Club claims that the “gas industry is dirty, dangerous, and running amok.” It continues, saying, “The closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears. . . . If we can’t protect our health and treasured landscapes from the damages caused by the natural gas industry, then we should not drill for natural gas.”
That’s a remarkable set of statements from the Sierra Club, particularly given that the group received nearly $26 million in donations from the gas industry between 2007 and 2010, most of it from Chesapeake Energy’s now-embattled CEO, Aubrey McClendon. During many of those years, the Sierra Club supported natural gas because, as Michael Brune, the group’s executive director, put it, the group’s leaders believed at the time that this fuel could “play a necessary role in helping us reach the clean energy future our children deserve.” But in February of this year, the Sierra Club changed its direction on natural gas and Brune declared that the “only safe, smart, and responsible” way to address America’s energy needs is to look beyond coal, oil, and natural gas and to focus on “sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.”
As for nuclear, forget it. Since 1974, the club has opposed “the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors utilizing the fission process.” The group says that it will continue its opposition, pending “development of adequate national and global policies to curb energy over-use and unnecessary economic growth.”
The Sierra Club accepted over $25 million dollars from the natural gas industry with the understanding that this money be used for the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. What the natural gas industry didn’t realize is that once the Sierra Club successfully destroyed coal, they would move on to bite the hand that fed them; having recently launched their “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign. They also oppose nuclear energy, leaving our wonderufl nation with solar, wind, and geothermal. Those three energy sources make up less than 3% of our total electricity production in2010, so as you can tell they are serious energy sources the United States could scale up with few issues concerning reliability or (sarcasm) costly price increases.
“Clean energy” isn’t a specific thing — it’s a marketing slogan. And the slogan is designed to obscure the green movement’s desire to impose carbon taxes, set limits on carbon dioxide emissions, or both. Politico reporters Erica Martinson and Jonathan Allen made that clear in their article on March 21 of this year. Environmental groups admit that “they’ve lost ground by tackling global warming head-on,” the two wrote. “Their best bet now lies in a bit of a bait and switch.” The result is a campaign to demonize “dirty” hydrocarbons by conflating carbon dioxide emissions with asthma.
Last year, Suedeen Kelly, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that renewable-energy mandates are a “back-end way to put a price on carbon.” Kelly’s point applies directly to Bingaman’s bill and the ongoing push for “clean energy.” But rather than have an open and honest debate about the merits of a carbon tax or the potential benefits of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, the green movement is pushing a “clean energy” stalking horse that will result in higher prices for consumers.
The bottom line is obvious: Be wary of “clean energy.” The Sierra Club is.