Here’s something we don’t see every day: the Times‘ op-ed page sticking it to the greens in a devastating piece by columnist Joe Nocera. Here at Via Meadia we’ve flagged the President’s decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline as one of the most baffling and damaging decisions of his Administration, and now this viewpoint is being echoed on in the pages of the Times. Nocera goes beyond the familiar (and apt) criticism that the pipeline decision will hurt American jobs while rejecting our best chance in decades to achieve a measure of energy independence to note that the decision has damaged America’s relationship with Canada on energy policy. By spurning our most reliable energy provider, we have forced the Canadians to look elsewhere. Oil intended for U.S. consumption may now be used in China instead (where the environmental impact is the same as it would have been here). The greens’ folly goes even further:
As it turns out, the environmental movement doesn’t just want to shut down Keystone. Its real goal, as I discovered when I spoke recently to Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, is much bigger. “The effort to stop Keystone is part of a broader effort to stop the expansion of the tar sands,” Brune said. “It is based on choking off the ability to find markets for tar sands oil.”
This is a ludicrous goal. If it were to succeed, it would be deeply damaging to the national interest of both Canada and the United States. But it has no chance of succeeding. Energy is the single most important industry in Canada. Three-quarters of the Canadian public agree with the Harper government’s diversification strategy. China’s “thirst” for oil is hardly going to be deterred by the Sierra Club. And the Harper government views the continued development of the tar sands as a national strategic priority.
But at the Times, our king can do no wrong. Rather than taking President Obama to task for an obviously counterproductive decision, Nocera argues that “in his centrist heart of hearts, the president wanted to approve it,” and that “poisoned politics” forced his hand. This may or may not be true, but even if it is, Obama should hardly be absolved for placing the demands of a small interest group over the interests of America as a whole.
Still, when even columnists at the New York Times call the Sierra Club’s core policy stance ludicrous and disastrous, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.