Recently, the Sierra Club announced an effort “to prevent the extraction of fossil fuels right from the start,” a campaign known as “Keep it in the ground.” The plan seeks to “shut down coal mines, and crack down on hydraulic fracturing, along with stopping the transportation of fossil fuels in oil trains, pipelines and coal export terminals.”
This should sound ludicrous to anyone who understands energy or follows the topic, but activists are buoyed by several recent victories. A post on Greenpeace.org states: “Remember when we told you that the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground was gaining momentum? We weren’t making that up.” The author then goes on to list the “much-discussed” successes—including rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
She then touts something that slipped under the radar for even the most ardent news watcher: on December 7, the Bureau of Land Management “announced a last minute delay to a fossil fuel lease sale”—which the post claims is due to “grassroots opposition.”
The antis have gained momentum. Last month 2016 presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his colleague Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the “keep it in the ground bill.” While the bill is “certain to languish in the Republican controlled Congress,” they hope by getting it on “lawmakers’ radar,” they can “kick off a grassroots movement that will eventually force lawmakers to block new drilling and mining on public land.”
Then, just days after the Sanders/Merkley bill was introduced, President Obama intoned the movement’s message in his speech announcing the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline: “we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.” Activists believe that by keeping “the pressure on,” “the grass roots movement can push him in the right direction.”
The fight, however, goes much further than federal lands: “it stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells, coal mines and infrastructure.” As they learned from the Keystone fight, “opening multiple fronts” is important.
So, now you know what comes next. If you are in the energy industry—or are in a city, county, or state where it prospers—like low gasoline prices, or don’t want your taxes raised, “keep it in the ground” should scare you into action.
Here’s what’s happened in many states just as result of low oil prices—not as a result of keeping it in the ground, which would have a much greater impact. And this quick review doesn’t include the devastation wrought on Appalachian Mountain residents as a result of Obama’s war on coal. For example, states such as New Mexico, Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oklahoma face budget shortfalls ranging from $30 million to $1 billion. In Alaska, due to a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, the governor has proposed the first income tax in 35 years.
These budget shortfalls impact everyone.
In these states, services people depend on from state government are paid for by taxes, and one of the largest and most reliable tax sources is the oil-and-gas sector. The services include state police, the public schools and colleges, health services, highways, and more.
Additionally, the federal government receives more than $10 billion annually from oil-and-gas revenues.
If the “keep it in the ground” movement is successful, government services must be cut, taxes on everything must go up, and electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket.”
So, now that you understand the costs will result in a destruction of our economic system and standard of living, will you engage in halting the movement? Without the participation of Americans, they will roll on to more “victories.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.