George Graham

With Friends Like These, the Earth Needs no Enemies

I hold the environment in such high regard that it approaches reverence. And I am grieved by the way human beings have despoiled – and are continuing to despoil – the wonderful earth that God gave us. To me that could well be “the Unforgivable Sin.” But sometimes I feel like shaking some sense into so-called “environmentalists.”

What are they thinking?

If they think wild-eyed shenanigans are the way to win public support for their – make that our – cause, they must be crazy.

When they stop logging in an entire forest because of one spotted owl, the public is not sympathetic but outraged. Ordinary folks are mad at the environmentalists for taking away their jobs and driving up the cost of furniture, for one thing. Surely, scientists could figure out a better way of saving the spotted owl?

As for PETA members throwing blood on people’s fur coats, I won’t even go there. Only hooligans would do such a thing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very sympathetic to animals, both wild and domestic, but hooliganism is no way to win supporters.

So you can understand why I am not impressed by the ongoing demonstration in Washington against a Canadian company’s plan to pipe oil from Alberta to the U.S.

Organized by a career environmentalist who has made a living for decades by writing about the “cause,” this “civil disobedience” protest seems like mischief to me.

The protesters say they want to be arrested, and the Park Police are obliging them.

I say let them cool their heels in jail.

The protesters are trying to stop the Obama Administration from granting a permit to build the $7 billion pipeline because of concerns that it could pollute groundwater and cause health problems near Texas refineries.

And a meteorite could hit the earth anytime, too.

Or the volcano under Yellowstone Park could erupt and end civilization as we know it.

Calgary-based TransCanada wants to build the pipeline to carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. The 1,700-mile pipeline would go through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. According to the protesters, it would ruin the livelihoods of farmers, pollute the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska and put the Missouri, Yellowstone, Cheyenne and Niobrara Rivers at risk of spills.

So I think the government should make sure that the farmers are appropriately compensated, and every precaution should be taken to protect against pollution and spills. The company promises that it will be the “safest pipeline in the U.S.” and “meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards.” And the administration should do everything possible to hold the company to its promise.

But denying a permit to build the pipeline should not be an option. Certainly, America – and the world – should concentrate on developing alternative “green” sources of energy, but the hard truth is that right now, industrialized nations need fossil fuels like oil and coal. If the United States doesn’t get oil from Canada, it will have to get it from somewhere else – the Mideast for example.

Obviously, the pipeline would enhance America’s national security. It would also  add some $600 million annually to the economy and generate over 300,000 U.S. jobs in the next four years.

So I have to wonder why these American “environmentalists” are making such a fuss over the pipeline project (photo above, right) while coal companies are ripping the entire tops off West Virginia mountains (illustration above, left) and offshore oil rigs are blossoming like water lilies along the country’s coastline.

Do you think there could be some financial interests involved?

Could the protesters be stooges of special interests that would be adversely affected by the pipeline project?

It wouldn’t be the first time wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for