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Do Fringe Green Activists Want to Ban Energy Sanity from Democrat Platform?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

It would seem that fringe environmentalists want a total ban on sanity in 2016.

The Democratic Party Platform was decidedly “green” and left-of center when it came to energy issues back in 2012, but at least it took a pragmatic “all-of-the-above” approach to developing America’s energy resources. Since then, oil and natural gas production helped lead the nation in creating jobs and greater energy security.

If green groups funded by billionaire Tom Steyer’s largess have their way, that reasonable approach will disappear from the 2016 Democratic Party platform. At platform committee meetings, fringe elements’ strident demands, including a plank calling for banning all hydraulic fracturing, or fracking were only narrowly rejected.

Recent breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing techniques have made it possible to produce much more oil and natural gas than ever before, and at an economically viable price. Test after test has confirmed that the process is safe and, contrary to vocal activists’ emotionally calculated claims, does not impact drinking water. Not only would a fracking ban reverse America’s advance toward energy independence, but the cost of heating homes and fueling cars would skyrocket almost overnight. And in a twist of irony, the ban would stifle the output of clean-burning natural gas, which helped slash greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level in 17 yearsaccording the EPA.

Nonetheless, there’s no such thing as “too extreme” for these green radicals, whose other platform plank demand was just plain bonkers.

Their tragically naïve “Keep it in the Ground” demand is as simple as it sounds: They want to prohibit the extraction of any fossil fuels, period.

Their half-baked theory holds that American consumers would be forced to switch to wind and solar energy. But adequate technology to store intermittent energy doesn’t exist, and the infrastructure to transmit it hasn’t been built and would cost billions. On top of that, higher-priced wind and solar would induce the green energy poverty, already widespread in Great Britain and for the same reason, that literally kills those who can no longer afford to protect themselves from heat and cold.

The greens in California are so far out that it’s no longer enough to be a “zero-carbon (dioxide)” emitter. Environmental groups and state officials they control have put so much pressure on utility company PG&E that it recently announced it will close the state’s last nuclear power plant (which produces 9% of California’s electricity) within ten years. Worse yet, PG&E promised, in a joint announcement with environmental groups, that the replacement facility will produce electricity from renewable energy sources. Consumers will pay much higher rates for electricity. But then cost has never been a concern to wealthy greens.

The anti-energy agenda is most evident in North Carolina, where state health/environmental officials kowtowing to green activists have ordered Duke Energy to needlessly excavate and re-dispose of millions of tons of coal ash from some 33 ash storage sites around the state. This radical demand ignores the impact such a plan would have on state highways as it would take thousands of trucks years of road pounding trips to accomplish such a task. It would also cost billions of dollars, with consumers having to pony up in the form of higher utility rates or higher taxes.

What’s particularly outrageous is that North Carolina never conducted a comprehensive risk assessment while considering coal ash storage/management. A large portion of this cost could be saved if state regulators and lawmakers took a commonsense approach and didn’t rush into unwanted excavation of coal ash sites that could well be left alone. Coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity—isn’t even considered a hazardous waste by the EPA, and no other state has gone to such extremes creating solutions to manage it.

Reasonable people recognize that green activists’ proposed “solutions” have truly “jumped the shark” this year. They have no basis in reality. As we debate ways to protect our environment and our water quality, we must balance the task of sound environmental stewardship with the critical need for abundant, affordable, reliable energy.

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