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Useful Idiots Make for Bad Energy Policy

Apr 5, 2011

The fossil fuel industry has a lot going for it. An absolute imperative to have some form of energy. Long-standing relationships across the bureaucracy to get what it wants. Money. Power.

But one of its true secret weapons is the Useful Idiot.

A Useful Idiot can be relied upon to reflexively oppose any alternative to oil-and-gas, and on environmental grounds. While BP prepares to once again drill the Gulf of Mexico, and natural gas drillers destroy the water supply through fracking, having steamrolled their opposition, useful idiots are happy to stand in the way of any alternative.

Take Chris Clarke.  Please.

Clarke, a self-proclaimed environmentalist and freelance writer, is also co-founder and sole employee of Solar Done Right, which has made itself a primary opponent of solar development in the California deserts.

Clarke has some credibility in the environmental community. He hangs out at liberal blogs like Pandagon.

He should be on our side. Only he's not. He's on the oil companies' side.

Solar Done Right claims it's not against solar, just big solar. Small solar is fine by Solar Done Right. Of course, without some big projects we know utilities relentlessly oppose all alternative energy proposals, and we also know that when opposition appears to small solar  Solar Done Right magically disappears.

This week Solar Done Right issued a scathing report against big solar, calling the Bureau of Land Management's 11,000 page report identifying potential energy sites “a grave mistake in need of reversal.”

Another bunch of useful idiots calls themselves Wind Concerns Ontario. Its cause is fighting wind projects in rural areas. They're actually appealing a recent court ruling which allows wind turbines 550 meters (that's a third of a mile, folks) from buildings. They're organizing mass protests and promising to support anti-environmental candidates in coming elections.

And don't think that if you do solar instead of wind you're home free. Bernard Pope of Ontario Farmland Preservation says solar on farms destroys the usefulness of land.

By helping raise environmental objections to alternative energy projects of all kinds, oil, coal and natural gas lobbyists have the best of both worlds. They don't have to get involved, just point out (gently) that energy is needed, in order to continue destroying our oceans, our water tables, and our planet in the name of their greed.

But Useful Idiots will never know who the real enemy is until it's too late.



The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.

Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publicat...


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