Stop tak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist hyp­ocrites se­ri­ously

They in­dulge in ex­cess while urg­ing oth­ers to con­serve

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Drew John­son

Tom Steyer, the hedge fund bil­lion­aire­turned-en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, just launched a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar at­tack-ad blitz that takes po­lit­i­cal dis­hon­esty to a whole new level. In his lat­est spot, Mr. Steyer ac­cuses Iowa Se­nate can­di­date Joni Ernst of push­ing Amer­i­can jobs over­seas. In re­al­ity, all Mrs. Ernst did was bravely pledge to op­pose tax hikes. Watch­dog group Poli­ti­fact judged the ad to be, in a word, “false.”

The ad cam­paign isn’t just de­cep­tive; it’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal. As a self-de­scribed “pro­fes­sional pain in the [butt],” Mr. Steyer brags he’ll spend $100 mil­lion this elec­tion cy­cle to de­feat can­di­dates such as Mrs. Ernst who don’t buy in to his par­tic­u­larly sleazy brand of cli­mate-change hys­te­ria. A lot of the money Mr. Steyer now uses to ad­vance his fringe en­vi­ron­men­tal agenda was made off his in­vest­ments in oil and nat­u­ral gas.

While man­ag­ing his hedge fund, Far­al­lon Cap­i­tal, Mr. Steyer made a killing off the same fos­sil-fuel in­dus­try he is now smear­ing as greedy and sin­is­ter.

Mr. Steyer isn’t the first green cru­sader to se­cretly owe his wealth or his way of life to fos­sil fu­els. Given the stakes of our na­tion’s en­ergy de­bate, Americans should stop tak­ing th­ese en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist hyp­ocrites se­ri­ously.

Any list of “do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do” en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists needs to put for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore at the top. With his global-warm­ing doc­u­men­tary “An In­con­ve­nient Truth,” the for­mer veep es­tab­lished him­self an ex­pert on car­bon diox­ide foot­prints — and his is mas­sive.

In 2007, us­ing pub­lic records, I de­ter­mined that Mr. Gore’s Nashville man­sion de­voured more than 220,000 kilo­watt-hours of elec­tric­ity per year — more than 20 times the na­tional av­er­age. In some months, his elec­tric bills topped $2,400. Dur­ing the same year he was tout­ing “An In­con­ve­nient Truth,” a film de­mand­ing that Americans re­duce their en­ergy con­sump­tion, Mr. Gore’s com­bined elec­tric­ity and nat­u­ral-gas bills to­taled just un­der $30,000.

Pub­lic pres­sure even­tu­ally forced Mr. Gore to give his Ten­nessee home a green-friendly over­haul. Since slap­ping so­lar pan­els on his roof, though, Mr. Gore pur­chased ad­di­tional prop­er­ties, and he con­tin­ues to fly in pri­vate jets, even though the re­sult­ing car­bon diox­ide foot­print can be more than 100 times greater than fly­ing com­mer­cial.

Another elder states­man of en­viro-hypocrisy is Robert Red­ford. The ac­tor urged Americans to embrace “green build­ings that use less en­ergy,” but when an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly hous­ing de­vel­op­ment was planned too close to his Napa Val­ley win­ery, the ac­tor quashed the project.

Mr. Red­ford also de­mands Amer­ica “kick the oil habit,” de­spite hav­ing served as a paid spokesman for the world’s sec­ond-largest air­line — no con­flict there.

George Soros is a megadonor for en­vi­ron­men­tal groups like the Al­liance for Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion and the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists. Both groups are staunchly op­posed to frack­ing, a tech­nol­ogy that uses pres­sur­ized wa­ter and sand to cap­ture oil and nat­u­ral-gas de­posits trapped deep un­der­ground.

His support for abol­ish­ing the drilling tech­nique didn’t stop him from re­cently buy­ing a $234 mil­lion stake in Con­sol En­ergy, an avid prac­ti­tioner of frack­ing.

Then there’s Bill McKibben. As the head of 350.org, he is a lead­ing ad­vo­cate for re­duc­ing car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and killing the Key­stone XL pipe­line. He’s gone so far as to de­mo­nize im­ported foods, in­clud­ing or­anges, be­cause of the fuel con­sumed to trans­port them.

That hasn’t stopped Mr. McKibben from jet­ting around the globe to spread his anti-fos­sil fuel-mes­sage. It’s still un­clear how this busy jet-fuel-guz­zling travel sched­ule squares with his hard-line views on cit­rus.

De­spite the silli­ness spew­ing from the mouths of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist hyp­ocrites, the eco­nomic and se­cu­rity ben­e­fits of do­mes­tic oil and gas pro­duc­tion are hard to deny.

Thanks to ad­vances in frack­ing tech­nol­ogy, nat­u­ral gas now sells for one-third of what it did in 2008. As a con­se­quence, Americans are sav­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars on their heat­ing and elec­tric bills an­nu­ally — and that has to be good news for Mr. Gore.

Frack­ing is also pro­pel­ling do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion to its high­est lev­els ever. In fact, the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency re­cently an­nounced that the United States has over­taken Saudi Ara­bia and Rus­sia to be­come the world’s largest oil pro­ducer. With the un­rest in the Mid­dle East and Ukraine, our en­ergy boom couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time.

De­spite so much good news, naysay­ers like Tom Steyer, Al Gore, Robert Red­ford and George Soros are do­ing their best to con­demn the fos­sil-fuel in­dus­try. Un­til they start tak­ing their own ad­vice, how­ever, there’s no rea­son for any­one else to. Drew John­son is an ed­i­to­rial writer for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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