op-ed

America’s Economy Remains Sapped By Fringe Environmental Ideologues

Gilligans Island YouTube screenshot/The Buck Stops Here

Matthew Kandrach President, CASE
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Though President Trump has yet to give our nation’s onerous regulatory state a nickname, he’s nonetheless  making good on his promise to eliminate the scourge of regulation that for decades has been a consistent fork in the eye of economic opportunity and growth. Unfortunately, the task is monumental.

American businesses and consumers remain under assault from regulatory burdens that are costing our nation an astronomical two trillion dollars per year in compliance costs — costs that are largely borne by U.S. consumers.

Chief among the economic hit men piling onto this regulatory burden are well-funded environmental groups like the Sierra Club, with deep pockets and a radical agenda . The Sierra Club and their wealthy donors attack U.S. businesses at every opportunity, either in the courtroom, through high-dollar lobbying efforts, or by colluding with government agencies to carry out their agenda. In the end, it’s always average consumers left paying the tab.

For example, the Sierra Club opposes all forms of energy except wind and solar, which, even with the help of heavy taxpayer subsidies, still only meet about 7 percent of our nation’s electricity demand. The Sierra Club, and its activist allies, are fighting every form of traditional energy. They have spearheaded the Beyond Coal campaign, the Beyond Natural Gas campaign and they don’t much care for nuclear power either — far and away the nation’s largest source of emission-free electricity. Those three sources of energy generate about 85 percent of the nation’s power.

Ideology is far more important to the Sierra Club and its allies than facts or consumer concerns. In addition to the Sierra Club’s baffling opposition to emissions-free nuclear power, its opposition to natural gas defies logic. Greater use of natural gas for electricity generation is the leading reason U.S. carbon emissions are plummeting. And yet, despite the environmental benefits, the Sierra Club is fighting new natural gas production and the construction of new natural gas infrastructure at every turn.

While the energy industry is concerned with reliability and affordability, the Sierra Club has pursued a policy and regulatory agenda that aims to pull money directly out of consumers’ pockets. Take the shale revolution. Thanks to the innovation combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, U.S. drillers have unlocked vast amounts of previously inaccessible oil and natural gas from shale rock. Surging natural gas and oil production have led to a 47 percent reduction in the cost of natural gas and a 50% cut in prices at the pump. While U.S. families were saving a total of $13 billion per year to heat and cool their homes, thanks to lower cost oil and natural gas, the Sierra Club was fighting to ban hydraulic fracturing.

The list of industries the Sierra Club attacks with stifling regulations is nothing short of staggering, from welding, to trucking, to fishing, to home construction to plumbing, almost everything that involves Americans having a better standard of living for less cost is on their hit list.

The Sierra Club has collected millions of dollars by filing lawsuits that both stop American industry and drain it of needed capital. The courtroom has long been a favorite hangout for today’s environmental activists when they don’t win at the ballot box. Just recently, as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt sought to rollback just some of the draconian environmental regulations issued by President Obama, he was met with four lawsuits in one day from more than 18 different environmental groups — efforts which if successful will cost American consumers billions of dollars.

The Sierra Club and its fringe partners have become the attack dogs of radical ideology that drips in hypocrisy. They have turned their backs on reliable, affordable energy sources that are advancing worthy environmental goals to pursue an exclusively wind and solar power fantasy that is likely not even technically feasible and is surely economically ruinous. A reenergized American economy is possible but only if we pull back the regulatory burden and put consumer interests before fringe ideology.

Matthew Kandrach is president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE), a free-market oriented consumer advocacy organization.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.