Smart energy? Green extreme would have us living in the dark

The sponsors of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring tar-sands oil from Canada to United States refineries have jumped through every legally required environmental hoop. Yet still the extremists of America's "green" movement demanded last fall that the project be aborted -- at a cost of thousands of well-paid jobs, even though the steel pipe sits ready to go -- supposedly because the proposed route crossed the sensitive Ogallala acquifer below the Nebraska Sandhills.

The president has, so far, agreed.

But Monday, executives with TransCanada, the firm that stood ready to create all those jobs without taxpayer subsidy -- and to simultaneously reduce American energy dependence on the tempestuous Middle East -- announced it would proceed immediately with a shorter version of the project south of Oklahoma, even as it seeks a new permit for the segment through the northern United States.

Even President Obama -- perhaps sensing that "I want Americans to freeze in the dark" is not a great slogan in an election year -- welcomed the announcement.

And the environmental watchdogs? How did they respond to this plan to build a stretch of pipeline that can't possibly endanger the Ogallala aquifer?

"TransCanada is hell-bent on bringing tar sands, the world's dirtiest oil, through America to reach foreign markets," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. "They can't wait for a fair, scientific environmental review they know their pipeline would fail."

Interesting. The pipeline passed a three-year environmental review with flying colors. Meantime, how many fossil-fuel energy projects can Mr. Brune name that have succeeded in meeting his standards, in the past 35 years?

"Any attempt to move forward with any segment of the pipeline will be met with the same fierce grass-roots opposition that stopped the pipeline the first time," Kim Huynh of Friends of the Earth said in a statement.

Can we now, finally, abandon the tattered fig leaf that contends these groups merely want "smart energy" -- energy development designed to allow continued growth of the American economy, simply with a "smarter, cleaner footprint"?

There is no oil well, no gas well, no coal mine, no refinery, no transmission line, no pipeline, nothing designed to allow Americans to fuel their cars or heat their homes or power their industries with plentiful, relatively inexpensive North American fossil fuel, no matter how well "scrubbed," no matter how the producers may fawn and grovel before environmental concerns, that this gang will not still oppose utterly, hysterically, with every ounce of their beings.

And they don't care how they do it. They don't care how absurdly they have to cry crocodile tears for the hypothetical damage the energy development in question might cause to some "threatened" weed or bug.

Maybe, once, when they cried wolf, it was appropriate to stop and look for wolves. But like the boy in the old fable, they have long exhausted the patience of a nation that needs to get back to work.