The Sierra Club is a behemoth of an organization, with seemingly endless sources of funding and influence. They have been relentless on their attack on the coal industry, and they have been successful. In March, the campaign was given a $50 million dollar grant in its efforts to turn the public against coal.
The environmental group is based in San Francisco, and was founded in 1892 by socialist John Muir (although this fact is not mentioned in the extensive information about John Muir on their Website). The organization began its "Beyond Coal" campaign and has effectively delivered the message that coal "is our dirtiest energy source. Coal is the source of more than 30 percent of our global warming pollution, it causes asthma and other health problems, and mining it destroys our mountains and releases toxic mercury into our communities," as reported by the NY Times on March 26th of this year.
The New York Times reported that "since Beyond Coal began, proposals for 166 new coal-fired power plants had been abandoned, retirement dates had been secured for 106 existing plants, new mountaintop removal mining permits had slowed significantly and the Tennessee Valley Authority had agreed to phase out coal plants." Coal has been effectively crucified.
Natural Gas: The New Villain!
Now, there is a new target...natural gas. Natural gas is abundant and cheaper than renewable energy. It is also much more dependable than renewable energy, and therefore, a threat. The green group will have an all out war on the natural gas industry, just as they have with coal.
Oddly, their position has "evolved", since just four short years ago.
In 2008, the venerable organization came out in support of the U.S. natural gas industry, reported Oil and Gas Investor magazine (and has received millions from the industry). Carl Pope, executive director of the roughly 700,000-member organization in 1992 stated, "Among the fossil fuels, natural gas is at the top." The article continued, "It favors producing all that the U.S. can put out. That is because the Sierra Club would also like to see U.S. energy independence."
Why the change? The abundance of natural gas and the low cost will put renewable energy in the back seat. So, the environmental group needs to convince the lemmings in America that natural gas is bad, despite what it has said previously. The Wall Street Journal states "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."
The new campaign, "Beyond Natural Gas," has a goal: to shut down the industry. According to executive director Michael Brune, "We're going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can." The article states "This is no idle threat. They have deep pockets funded by liberal foundations and knows how to work the media and politicians."
Doug Hock, a spokesman in Colorado for the Encana USA oil and gas company, said "For a lot of folks, unfortunately, the bridge has become a bridge too far. From an economic standpoint the abundance of natural gas has made renewables less economic," he said.
It appears that the rest of the green movement still needs to quickly change their tune about natural gas. If they continue to support it, they will start to contradict themselves.
There may be "scientific consensus" that the climate is changing and it is caused by man, but apparently it is less clear what exactly man is doing to raise CO2 emissions. Reuters reported that "In the United States, the world's second-biggest CO2 emitter, a switch to natural gas from coal in power plants, a slower economy and a mild winter helped cut emissions by 1.7%."
They must not have heard yet that natural gas is the new villain.
Watch the video of President Obama discussing the coal industry.