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Sierra Club: The New Hamlet?
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles...

For the Sierra Club (SC) all is uncertain. A column in The Washington Post highlighted the inability of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations to identify energy supply policies they can support. As the Post column notes, "With all those [liquified natural gas facility options] to choose from, you might think that the Sierra Club would have identified the ones it could support. But with a few notable'd be wrong."

The Post's Steven Pearlstein explains that for "years, environmental groups have successfully opposed power plants, utility lines and offshore drilling by tapping into the not-in-my-back-yard instincts of anyone living near such projects. Now, when an LNG proposal comes along, the response is almost reflexive. Local residents see the need to gussy up their NIMBYisms with environmentalist garb, and local enviros are happy to oblige."

At the SC's national headquarters, "officials are still struggling to reconcile the knee-jerk opposition of local chapters to just about every energy infrastructure project with the political imperative to confront the realities of Republican rule and soaring energy prices." An SC official is quoted as saying "We are very conscious that we need to articulate what we are for as well as what we are against."

However, it is far easier for the SC to recognize the need to support an energy supply policy then for them to actually do so.

As Mr. Pearlstein concluded, "unless more enviros figure out how to prioritize their issues and engage in the kind of trade-offs and compromises needed to recapture the political center, their once vaunted movement runs the risk of falling further into irrelevancy."

By relying on populist rhetoric instead of developing a coherent energy supply policy, the Sierra Club and similar NGOs have reduced themselves to telling a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


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