Criticism of Vermont’s Energy Policy (H.468) is actually understated

Part II in a series

by Robert Maynard

In a piece published in True North Reports last week entitled “Unicorn Power makes it out of House & Energy Natural Resources committee,” I discussed the problems with H.468. That article included a link to a critique by John McClaughry and one to an open letter from numerous leaders of Vermont’s business community warning of the economic consequences of taking the path prescribed by H.468. That same True North Reports edition carried a Press Release by the Campaign for Vermont’s Bruce Lisman pointing out that IBM, Vermont’s largest private employer, will see a 16-20% increase in energy cost if H.468 is enacted. Lisman argues that this is an unacceptably high cost and a sure job killer.

I would like to suggest that the criticism of Vermont’s energy policy is, if anything, understated. To get a full picture of the extent to which such policy is unwise, I looked up a 2009 article from Pravda Ru. Pravda Ru is a Russian nationalist publication. On October 19th of that year they carried an article entitled “The American Self Immolation, Truly a Sight to See,” by Stanislav Mishin. Mr. Mishin has a particular interest in economics and history as they relate to the rise and fall of civilizations. Using this approach he analyzed the collapse of the former Soviet Union and compared it to the current path that the America is currently on. In referring to the then planned federal “Cap and Trade” bill, he had this to say:

That brings us to Cap and Trade. Never in the history of humanity has a more idiotic plan been put forward and sold with bigger lies. Energy is the keystone to any and every economy, be it manpower, animal power, wood or coal or nuclear. How else does one power industry that makes human life better (unless of course its making the bombs that end that human life, but that’s a different topic). Never in history, with the exception of the Japanese self -imposed isolation in the 1600s, did a government actively force its people away from economic activity and industry.

Even the Soviets never created such idiocy. The great famine of the late 1920s was caused by quite the opposite, as the Soviets collectivized farms to force peasants off of their land and into the big new factories.

Coupled with the attempt to rid Vermont of the low cost, highly reliable energy source that Vermont Yankee provides, H.468 represents the same kind of anti-development approach as the Cap and Trade proposal that Mr. Mishin was lamenting. One may argue that he was engaging in hyperbole, but a look at some past statements from high pro-file “green” leaders indicates that he is not far off the mark:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” — Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

“A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.” — Paul Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, “Population, Resources, Environment” (W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1970, 323)

“If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won’t give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.” — Amory Lovins, The Mother Earth – Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p. 22

“Giving society cheap, abundant energy … would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Paul Ehrlich, “An Ecologist’s Perspective on Nuclear Power”, May/June 1978 issue of Federation of American Scientists Public Issue Report.

“We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the same industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” — Michael Oppenheimer. Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University. He joined the Princeton faculty after more than two decades with Environmental Defense, is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), serving most recently as a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

“We’ve already had too much economic growth in the US. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.” — Ehrlich again.

“The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have, and we [human beings] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles.” — Thomas Lovejoy, assistant secretary to the Smithsonian Institution.

“The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world.” — John Shuttleworth, FoE manual writer.

“People are the cause of all the problems; we have too many of them; we need to get rid of some of them, and this (ban of DDT) is as good a way as any.” Charles Wurster, Environmental Defense Fund.

“We can and should seize upon the energy crisis as a good excuse and great opportunity for making some very fundamental changes that we should be making anyhow for other reasons.” — Russell Train (EPA Administrator at the time, and soon thereafter became head of the World Wildlife Fund), Science 184 p. 1050, 7 June 1974

“The world has a cancer, and that cancer is man.” — Alan Gregg, former longtime official of the Rockerfeller Foundation

“Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape.” — John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club

“Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.”– Dave Forman, Earth First! and Sierra Club director (1995-1997)

“Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” — John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

It is abundantly clear that leading figures of the environmentalist movement have a profoundly anti-development mentality. Is it too much to ask whether such views may be influencing our energy policies when politicians with close ties to the movement are the ones putting forth the legislation? Vermont’s political leaders pride themselves in playing a leading role in the global “green” agenda. Perhaps we should raise the question of the compatibility of that agenda with the idea of economic growth.