Gushing About Oil

September 30th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

Marita K. Noon never met an extractive energy source she didn’t like. The one-time executive director of a pro-energy group called CARE now touts herself as the “executive vice president” of CARE’s “advocacy arm”, simplistically called Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

Just how wonderful are the extractive energy industries? Well, here’s Noon’s take on the gulf oil spill:

Watching oil gush into the Gulf of Mexico for 91 days and the relative inability to stem the tide exemplified the magnitude of the resources available here (in America). There is no energy shortage; rather, there’s an access shortage and a shortage of political will.

This gushing comment is part of a “Guest View” column that appeared in today’s Mountain View Telegraph, a sister publication of the Albuquerque Journal, in which Noon laments that candidates up for election in November are talking too little about energy.

In the piece, entitled, “Inject Energy Talk Into Campaigns,” Noon says, “The topic of energy has been noticeably downplayed.”

Campaign platforms should be full of rhetoric that speaks to job creation, especially in an economic downturn. Ensuring rig workers jobs back in the Gulf would be a start. Providing the unemployed access to work would be a true stimulus.

What kind of work? According to Noon, candidates should be stumping for “developing the cleanest and most efficient energy extraction methods.” (Emphasis mine.)

Her energy plan does not include or mention alternative energy. But her views on that are clear. In a Noon column that appeared earlier this month in the wildly conservative Washington (D.C.) Times, she flatly stated that alternatives like wind, solar and biomass are neither economically viable nor beneficial.  And that’s just how it is in Noon’s world.

Equating green environmentalism with the green greed of Wall Street and alluding to the Wall Street movie sequel, “Money Never Sleeps,” now in theaters, Noon wrote that:

. . .environmentalists, like (Gordon) Gecko in the 80s, believe themselves powerful enough to be nearly untouchable.

Anyone who labels themselves “green” has a perceived marketing advantage. Without fully understanding the implications of “green,” people support the concept as being generally better. Without a specific universal definition, products as diverse as political candidates, diapers, and cars proudly sport the moniker.

Granted, a lot of companies are claiming to be green (or natural or organic) and are being exposed as operating or creating product far short of that goal. (BP, the oil company responsible for the Gulf oil spill, is one that comes to mind.) But Noon dismisses green energy and says the public has been hoodwinked into thinking green is good:

When it comes to energy, green—typically referring to wind, solar, and biomass—is definitely, at least according to the popular misconception, the preferred way to go, despite not being economically viable or beneficial.

As a public service, she says her non-profit group conducted a study:

The study primarily seeks to answer the question of what the world might look like should the environmentalists succeed in their efforts. Would it be the “environmental utopia” it’s been purported to be?

Would there be “rivers and streams running so clear and clean that you can bend a knee to the water, cup your hands, and drink without fear,” as one enviro website states as a goal? Would we be able to “explore, enjoy and protect wild places of the earth,” as another posits?

Her group’s study conclusion found something far more sinister:

Essentials such as cars, washers and dryers, air conditioners, microwaves, television, computers and cell phones would all be gone. They’re energy dependent. The plastics are made of petroleum. Food supplies and healthcare, for the same reasons, would also be virtually non-existent.

The extreme result is a life in caves without fresh water or waste disposal. With four to a household, that’s 75 million caves.

I’m not sure where to start in rebutting Noon’s assertions, but having followed environmental and energy issues for three decades I have yet to meet environmentalists who consider themselves “powerful enough to be nearly untouchable.” And I don’t think those seriously promoting renewable energy sources over finite, extractive industries, are advocating elimination of all oil-based products and a return to life in caves.

But Noon and other promoters of extractive industries are ubiquitous in their constant promotion of and appeals for compassion for the extractive industries. These promotions manifest themselves in various forms, whether it’s television ads, campaign donations or columns by oil and gas associations and non-profits other than CARE and Energy Makes America Great Inc.

The Journal is an oil and gas booster, too, sticking up for the oil and gas industry even when criticizing President Obama in its editorial of Set. 8, “New Stimulus Proposal a Miniature Mulligan:”

The administration hopes this stimulus will be paid for by eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies and multinational corporations. But if that happens, consumers can expect to pay more at the pump and for all petroleum-related products.

These laments about the poor, struggling oil companies are getting old. The New Mexico State Land Office closed out its fiscal year June 30 reporting $430 million in revenues, $390 million of which came from oil and gas activities, including $316.5 million in royalties. The total was down from the office’s all-time record of $546 million in earnings (from all sources) in 2008, but was nearly double its earnings of $236 million just seven years earlier.

Yet Noon’s extremist version of America’s energy future again begs for more attention to the deserving extractive industries. In today’s Mountain View Telegraph column, Noon also gushes about those other extractive industries, saying the candidates’ lack of rhetoric about energy:

. . .is shocking for someone’s (sic) who’s toured the oil sands in Canada and felt the oil-coated granules that are naturally embedded in the earth;

or who’s been eight miles underground in a coal mine, totally surrounded by the amazingly efficient fuel;

or walked on top of uranium mine reclamation efforts and stood inside the first gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant ever built in America;

or toured New Mexico’s oil fields and witnessed firsthand a natural gas well restricted from producing due to government regulation.

I guess the “wonder” of these industries has been dulled for some by oil spills (in sea and on land), coal-fired power plant pollution, miners’ cave-in deaths and radiation poisonings. But these unpleasantries don’t exist in Noon’s world. That she makes a living promoting a one-sided view of these industries is yet another indication of their financial health and influence.

At least by running the end-paragraph bio about Noon, the paper’s readers have an idea where Noon’s bread is buttered. Or in this case, greased.

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