This Time, the Left’s Environmental Extremism Has Deadly Consequences

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

A March 8 letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times perfectly encapsulates the denial and delusion into which leftists must submerge themselves when characterizing the ongoing struggle in Ukraine.


“The Biden administration and those who support the policies to keep a lid on oil prices are literally trading dollars at the pump for human lives,” wails a reader from Redondo Beach. “If you really want to help the people of Ukraine, stop complaining about gas prices.”

Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac University poll discovered that, even with gas prices at record levels, 78 percent of Americans support the idea of banning imports of Russian oil — and the price increases that would result — in order to support the Ukrainians.

Unfortunately, as gratifying as these sentiments may be to President Pass-the-Buck and the noisy special interests that engineered his election just over a year ago, they’re completely undercut by two baseless assumptions.

First, while banning Putin’s oil may be a useful symbolic gesture, there’s precious little to suggest such a step would have any impact on Russia — which could easily sell the U.S. share to our feckless, oil-starved European allies — let alone help the besieged Ukrainians.

Lest we forget, oil prices in the U.S. had already more than doubled in just the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency — long before Russian artillery had fired a shot into Ukraine.

And secondly, there’s even less evidence from which to conclude Biden “support(s) … policies to keep a lid on oil prices.”

In fact, just the opposite is demonstrably true.

The president and the environmental extremists in his base would love nothing more than to drive gas prices through the roof. How else to explain his eagerness to mothball the Keystone Pipeline and end drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR)? What other reason could there be for canceling oil and gas leases, to say nothing of laying waste to fracking and the natural gas industry?


Maybe Biden can’t reverse all these catastrophic decisions overnight, but he could certainly set the wheels in motion and put the world on notice that America intends to explore, drill, pump, and ship its way back into energy independence in record time.

Only he — and those holding his purse strings — don’t want to.

While Biden is beholden philosophically to green activists, the real money comes largely from the leaders of Big Labor — to whom Biden promised on the campaign trail to be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”

According to a July 2020 article in Politico, however, organized labor is actually divided over the issue of environmentalism. The authors note:

“Broadly, the split among unions is most marked between trade unions whose jobs are tied to the fossil fuel industry and those representing the service sector, like healthcare, government and custodial workers.”

Simply stated, private-sector union leaders, while liberal by nature, are suspicious of clean-energy initiatives because they fear promises of green companies creating millions of high-paying manufacturing jobs are wildly optimistic.

Government employee unions have no such concerns. For them, the product is regulations and bureaucracy, and when business is good, government grows a bountiful crop of new dues-paying union members.

That the leaders of public-sector unions have no concern for the wishes or wellbeing of their membership is no surprise. Organizations like SEIU, AFSCME, and the various teachers’ unions long ago abandoned worker advocacy in favor of lining the pockets of their leadership and advancing a decidedly socialist political agenda.


Including bankrupting the country’s private-sector energy industry.

“The Biden master plan is for American oil and gas production and consumption to go to zero over the next 15 to 20 years,” writes syndicated columnist Stephen Moore. “How do you achieve that goal? By making oil and gas so expensive and so unavailable that Americans are forced to use alternatives.”

And in the abstract, the argument almost makes sense. Once you’ve swallowed the climate change narrative hook, line, and sinker, and anointed yourself the savior of the planet, it’s easy to conclude future generations will erect monuments to your foresight and willingness to impose a little short-term tough love on the unbelievers.

The problem with such a strategy — in addition to the very real possibility your core assumptions are actually wrong — is that not everyone is willing to play the game by your rules.

Green policy zealots have spent generations portraying their agenda as fundamentally moral while shaming those who see things differently as heretics or paid shills of energy companies seeking to profit from the destruction of the planet.

The past few weeks in Ukraine, however, have exposed the inevitable, brutal consequences of handing the reins of power over to spoiled children and political opportunists.

The bloody reality is that Vladimir Putin couldn’t care less what the climate change alarmists think, even should their Chicken Little predictions happen to prove true. All he knows is that he wants to recreate the old Soviet Union, and neither the United States nor its NATO partners can do anything about it because the leader of the free world saw fit to sacrifice the incalculable advantage of energy independence on the altar of political expedience.


It’s no longer an academic exercise, and this isn’t about polar bears and pretty flowers. The naïve, self-indulgent fantasies of the Left are directly responsible for the wanton slaughter playing out in real time before our eyes — and it’s liable to get much worse before it gets any better.

For once, they need to be held accountable.

Jeff Rhodes is the Vice President for News and Information at the Freedom Foundation. 


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