The environmental left keeps getting away with shutting down domestic energy production because of the "rational ignorance" of the American people — and that's no slight. It's logical. The average American doesn't know the nitty gritty and real details of environmental policy, because the average American has better things to do than dig deeper than the headlines.
The left exploits this by claiming every attempt to draw energy from the ground — or transport it from our friends in Canada via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — is a calamity for the environment and the cuddly creatures who live there.
For instance, the environmental left once cried: "If you drill in Alaska, you'll spoil the natural habitat of the caribou!" Does the average American know that the caribou love
the Alaskan pipeline because the friction heat of the oil moving through helps keep them warm? No. Do they know that the caribou herd has tripled
since the pipeline was constructed? Of course not. The average American is too busy earning money and raising a family to look up the data that puts a lie to the stories the media wrote at the start based on the environmental left's narrative.
The environmental left has a great advantage in these debates. Logic seems to dictate that the more humans impose themselves on the "natural world" (as if humans weren't part of it), the worse off are the cuddly creatures who once inhabited that space unmolested. But it's not always true, especially for America's endeavors. For Pete's sake, the population of polar bears has been increasing
, yet the media (and our government) considers them endangered. Which brings us to the Keystone XL pipeline.
As Heartland Institute
Policy Advisor on Environment Policy Rich Trzupek notes
In an attempt to justify his awful decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama is relying on the public swallowing a couple of myths: 1) the perception that the Ogallala Aquifer that Keystone XL would cross is virgin territory which has never seen the likes of a pipeline before, and 2) that the administration doesn’t have enough information to make a decision. If one scratches beneath the surface just a little bit, neither idea holds up to a little scrutiny.
The Ogallala Aquifer stretches from South Dakota to Texas and is an important source of water to the Great Plains. So, yeah. America should be careful about building a pipeline in this area. But someone should have mentioned that a couple of decades ago. This map
, and the image below, shows that the Keystone XL pipeline would be a single strand among thousands of miles of pipelines in a spider's web of oil and natural gas lines that cover the region. That blue line in the upper right area crossing the pink-shaded aquifer ... THAT'S
the dread Keystone XL pipeline. (For a more detailed and "zoom-able" PDF version of this map, go here
For the sake of a tiny corner of a geographical postage stamp, Obama has rejected the creation of tens of thousands of jobs — real
jobs, not the sinkholes of taxpayer money, like Solyndra
, the president seems to prefer. Absurdity. On Stilts!
As Trzupek points out
We’ve been building pipelines over this and all sorts of other environmentally sensitive areas for a long, long time. We know how to do that safely and responsibility. ...
Just as environmental groups' predictions of disaster surrounding the Alaska pipeline never came true, Obama’s concerns over the Ogallala are merely an excuse to justify opposition to a project that is so clearly in the national interest. ...
The president had more than enough information to make the right decision, but — sadly and all too predictably —he choose to appease the environmental fringe once more.
And that's where we get back to "rational ignorance." The American people are being rational when they don't explore all the facts and see things like this map. But the president has seen it, and he's making a different kind of "rational" decision — one based in politics and not the facts. And he can't claim ignorance of the truth.
(Map courtesy of PennWell MAPSource.