Opinions

OPINION: Where is environmentalists’ outrage over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order that canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline. Doing so sent an unmistakable message to the green coalition that funded and supported his campaign that he was with them and their causes. Never mind the 11,000 American workers who could have benefited from those construction jobs. They were not even a consideration in pursuit of a rigid and uncompromising ideology. Environmentalists cheered. Those who missed out on jobs? Not so much.

If only it stopped there. Opposition to pipelines has become a rallying cry for the left. They protested the Dakota Access Pipeline near continuously since 2016, battling in courts and spending millions in advertising campaigns to stop the delivery of 570,000 barrels per day from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline fell victim to these tactics, as endless lawsuits finally led Duke Energy to pull the plug on the project in 2020. With energy prices spiking in New England this winter, there are no doubt families who would rather be burning domestic natural gas instead of relying on higher-priced, imported supplies from countries that do not have America’s best interests at heart.

Across the country, activists continue to target pipelines. There’s environmental outrage over a proposed expansion of the Line 3 pipeline in Wisconsin, as well as protests — and even illegal vandalism and tampering — decrying the continued operation of the Line 5 pipeline in nearby Michigan. When the Colonial Pipeline was hit with a cyberattack last spring, environmentalists took advantage of the national security crisis to advance their political agenda. Never mind the lines for gasoline stretching around city blocks or the commuters whose daily lives were affected.

Yet amid the ongoing uncertainty between Ukraine and Russia, an interesting trend has developed. The same groups who are so loud in their opposition to domestic pipelines have fallen silent about Vladimir Putin’s nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 project that would transport Kremlin natural gas to Germany and other European nations.

Like Neville Chamberlain before him, Biden’s willingness to stand idly by is handing a geopolitical foe a major strategic advantage. Russia’s influence over the region continues to grow, at the same time as it masses troops on the Ukrainian border and threatens military action that Biden dismissed last week as a “minor incursion.”

As weak as Biden’s leadership may be, the hypocrisy being shown by the eco-Left with NordStream 2 is astounding. The same groups, idealogues and thought-leaders who rail over continued domestic production of fossil fuels — and the use of pipelines to deliver them to refineries — have been silent over the massive pipeline that stands to deliver LNG from Russia to Germany.

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President Biden sent shockwaves across the globe when he waived previously-imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2 last May. Fallout from that move — which marked a reversal from both congressional and executive branch actions, as well as his own opposition to the project as vice president — continues to be a leading source of political fallout. The fiasco in Afghanistan dominated the foreign policy headlines last year, but the Nord Stream 2 decision was the first sign this administration was pursuing a disastrous foreign policy agenda.

This month, United States senators who regularly condemn traditional energy sources as contributing to the “existential threat” of climate change had a chance to cast a vote to sanction Nord Stream 2. Afraid to buck their president and party line, none of the hardline, climate-centric members voted to do so. Alaska’s Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan did, however, and for that, they should be commended.

Ultimately, the eco-left cannot have it both ways on pipelines. Taking ultra-aggressive activity against American projects and a “look-the-other-way” approach to international ones sends a confusing message to the public about the true reasons for their outrage. Healthy debate over the pressing issues of the day is a good thing for our society and discourse. But when facts are ignored or altered to fit a political agenda, the American people, thankfully, see right through the shenanigans.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska state director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. He can be contacted at rick@powerthefuture.com and on Twitter @PTFAlaska.

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