Passing the gas test
By Henry Lamb
web posted June 16, 2003
Here's a two-part, third-grade economics test that environmental
extremists can't pass.
Part 1: There are three kinds of drinks, Pepsi, Coke, and Royal
Crown Cola. Government outlaws the sale of Pepsi and Coke.
Will the price of R. C. Cola (a) increase; (b) decrease; (c) stay
Part 2: When government prohibits increased production of R.
C. Cola, will the price (a) increase; (b) decrease; (c) stay the
Repeatedly, environmental extremists, many of whom are in
Congress, fail this test.
In reality, electricity is the commodity, produced by coal, nuclear
power, and natural gas. Government, to appease the
environmental extremists, has nearly outlawed coal and nuclear
power to produce electricity. Did the price of natural gas (a)
increase; (b) decrease; (c) stay the same?
Part 2: Government, to appease the environmental extremists,
has blocked increased production of natural gas. Has the price
of natural gas (a) increased; (b) decreased; (c) stayed the same?
Natural gas prices have increased as much as 700 percent over
the last three years. Surprise, surprise!
The sad truth is that environmental extremists, and some in
Congress, don't care. Whatever the economic consequences of
their actions, they cannot be as bad as disturbing a rattlesnake
slithering across a barren wilderness. Or, heaven forbid, having
to look at an oil well, despoiling a viewshed.
The idiotic notion of rewilding the world to the conditions that
existed before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, reached its zenith
during the Clinton/Gore years, when environmental extremists
virtually ran the executive branch of government. Executives from
environmental organizations went to work heading the various
government agencies, which then handed out federal grants to
their organizations to promote their rewilding policies. And, they
were very good at it.
Madison Avenue P/R firms produced brilliant campaigns to
scare the wits out of ordinary people, and then paint a beautiful
picture of the "Last Great Places" that must be "saved" for future
generations. Millions of people lined up to send checks to the
Nature Conservancy, and to vote for new taxes to buy up the
private property that greedy developers were destroying.
They failed to say, however, that the Last Great Places they
were saving were for rich contributors and board members.
They didn't put in their slick brochures that they were drilling for
oil on their land, and beneath adjacent land belonging to
someone else, while lobbying to prevent others from drilling.
While they were trying to prevent others from driving SUV's,
they failed to advertise that they were using donated SUVs to
drive across public land to survey where "No Trespassing" signs
should be erected for others. Green extremism is now being
The price of natural gas has skyrocketed, as has the price of
everything in which natural gas is an ingredient. The price of
everything that is affected by this "return-to-the-wilderness"
thinking has risen. Consequently, economic growth has slowed
to a crawl, and continues to teeter on the brink of stagnation, or
Environmental extremists, and some in Congress, are quick to
blame the Republicans, and refuse to recognize that it is their
insistence that we stop drilling, stop logging, stop ranching, stop
urban sprawl – that is the root cause of our economic woes. But
then these are the same people who can't pass the third grade
economics gas test.
These are the same people who lash out against any attempt to
expand use of our natural resources. About a thousand of these
people assembled at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington
recently, to cheer a list of strident speakers who vowed to unseat
the Bush administration in 2004, some calling it the worst
administration in history.
They want more of the policies that caused a 700 percent
increase in the price of natural gas. They want to lock up more
land for rattlesnakes (and their own oil wells, and estates for their
board members). They want more factories to close, more jobs
to be exported, and more viewsheds to be protected.
Let's give them another test. Will these lock-up-the-resources
policies cause economic growth to (a) increase; (b) decrease; (c)
stay the same?
They don't care. They have grown accustomed to government
buying their R. C. Colas for them.
Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental
Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty
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