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Lack of Civility not New to Energy

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

Slogans like “Save the Environment” are feel-good sayings many left-leaning constituents claim as their own, even though it’s a sentiment shared by every man, woman and child, regardless of political affiliation.

We all want a cleaner, more pristine environment. It’s something we should easily find common ground. We also all want jobs, higher wages, a better future and a robust economy.

The American dream of ensuring each generation has the tools and ability to achieve their goals is alive and well. It sustains our nation and helps us each reach our own personal destiny.

What’s troubling, however, is that more of the rhetoric coming from a few groups claiming to be environmental enforcers – and, in many cases, are flat-out anti-energy zealots – is becoming increasingly rude, uncivil and, in a few instances, abusive. It’s really no way to discuss what most would call policy differences.

Some call it protest, others call it disruptive. Some have referred to it as dangerous. By any name, the professional protest movement against energy is a harbinger of the wider uncivil “resist” movement that’s sweeping today’s political landscape.

From pipeline construction and hydraulic fracturing, to offshore development and wind and solar transmission, organized antagonists have created a successful business raising money to stop sensible energy development. But these efforts are counterproductive and serve only to increase energy prices, hurting the poor and disadvantaged most.

Their lack of civility has taken many forms in the last few years. From threatening and stalking, to polluting, vandalizing and damaging public and private property, groups of protesters who oppose energy – renewables included – continue to harass industry workers, lawmakers and supporters under the alleged justification that it’s their “right” to dissent.

Additional examples include attacking law enforcement, trespassing on regulators’ homes, dangling off rooftops and bridges, sitting atop trees along pipeline routes and destroying property by deliberately setting fires, all of which show a troubling escalation of violence and lawlessness within this community of "activists." In several Midwest states, groups have aggressively opposed wind transmission, often attempting to make a mockery of the regulatory process.

At times, these efforts could be considered domestic terrorism. This was the case when a group of ecoterrorists cut gates and other controlled locks to break into facilities and manually shutdown pipeline valves in four states. These coordinated and illegal attacks put not only employees onsite at risk but also the lives of the people and properties in the surrounding areas. The very environment these extremists claimed they were trying to protect could have been devastated.

These actions by extremists could have had serious consequences, and the targeting of critical infrastructure for destruction or industrial sabotage is a lot closer to a terrorist attack than a peaceful demonstration. However, these acts of terrorism targeting our infrastructure seem to be viewed by some environmentalists as acceptable.

The result of their efforts would do more harm to the environment. Why work to hurt a sector that, because of stringent regulation, newer technologies and investments in infrastructure, has reduced industry-related carbon emissions to decades-low levels and are showing the best global results? Or stop efforts to expand or maintain pipelines, the safest way to transport oil and gas, 4.5 times safer than other means?

We all want a clean, safe environment. That’s why we need a conversation about how we draw on conservation and efficiency while growing our economy, meeting our essential energy needs and ensuring our nation's security. Pitting the environment against all energy development and infrastructure does not further this goal, nor does it offer any solutions or compromises. Neither does violence, threats or the destruction of property.

These actions are truly disturbing. It’s time for more civility from these groups. Americans deserve better than this.

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