A Free-Market Energy Blog

‘Black Activists Oppose Shutdown of Line 5 Pipeline’ (Project 21 vs. DeSmog re environmental justice)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 10, 2022

“’Why would President Biden want to increase the misery of people already trying to keep up with the inflation he caused? It’s absurd that he wants to increase their misery by reducing the flow of oil into the Great Lakes region at the onset of winter,’ said Project 21 member Emery McClendon.”

Energy affordability, accessibility, and reliability is color-blind and income-sensitive. Wealthy persons can pay for home generators and drive or fly away from trouble. Poorer people are stuck in their circumstances. For the latter, energy-price setbacks mean budget cuts elsewhere.

This was the basic theme of a November 2021 press release by Project 21, “Biden Betrays ‘Environmental Justice’ Claims By Risking Energy Poverty” concerning the Biden Administration’s potential closure of Line 5, a dual Wisconsin-to-Canada-to-Michigan pipeline currently in operation. (Owner Enbridge, aware of the Biden Administration’s day-one shutdown of Keystone XL, has taken the matter very seriously.)

Project 21, “the liberty movement’s only public relations agency for black conservatives and libertarians,” is a project of the free-market think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. [1] Energy affordability is on the menu for Project 21.

But energy for regular folk does not resonate with Nick Cunningham of DeSmog. His “Right-Wing Group Uses ‘B.S.’ Environmental Justice Argument in Effort to Keep an Oil Pipeline Alive” (November 23, 2021) smears Project 21 rather than respond on energy grounds.

Project 21 Press Release

Biden Betrays ‘Environmental Justice’ Claims By Risking Energy Poverty” follows:

  • Amidst soaring energy prices and predictions of a cold winter ahead, members of the Project 21 black leadership network condemned the Biden Administration for considering the shutdown of a pipeline that brings life-sustaining fossil fuels to the American people – particularly black Americans already dealing with energy poverty issues.
  • On November 8, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers was reviewing the environmental impact of the Line 5 pipeline. This could result in a shutdown of this vital piece of energy infrastructure delivering crude oil and other petroleum byproducts into Michigan at a rate that can exceed 500,000 barrels a day.
  • “The Biden Administration cannot say it supports environmental justice when it is preparing to effectively accelerate energy poverty,” said Project 21 member Derrick Hollie. “It’s nice to say you want to replace lead pipes in cities like Flint, but shutting down the Line 5 is going to literally freeze the pipes of black Midwesterners when they are forced to choose between staples like energy and food, as prices for both continue to rise. By caving to the radical green lobby, Biden is betraying the black community.”
  • … Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper spoke about the possible Line 5 shutdown and how Biden Administration policies are causing energy prices to skyrocket. “Going to the gas station right now almost feels like a hostage-taking event,” Cooper said on “Fox News @ Night.” “And now grandma’s heating bill? What are we gonna be seeing? How crazy are we going to get?”…
  • “Why would President Biden want to increase the misery of people already trying to keep up with the inflation he caused? It’s absurd that he wants to increase their misery by reducing the flow of oil into the Great Lakes region at the onset of winter,” said Project 21 member Emery McClendon. “America needs this vital pipeline to remain open. Americans must not be denied the ability to stay warm during the harsh winter ahead. Closing down the Line 5 pipeline will unduly affect Americans’ standard of living – especially those living in black communities who are already struggling to make ends meet.”

DeSmog Response

DeSmog, a climate alarmist/pro-wind, solar, battery outfit, took issue with the above press release. Wrote Nick Cunningham:

A right-wing group that has a history of receiving funding from conservative foundations and ExxonMobil is trying to frame the state of Michigan’s attempts to shut down the aging Line 5 oil pipeline as an assault on the Black community. 

That industry-backed spin has not gone down well with Michigan activists. ‘I think that’s B.S. I think it’s phoney baloney,’ Theresa Landrum, a community activist in Detroit, told DeSmog. ‘The Black community is not benefiting. We have been suffering all along.’

Ignoring the energy question, Cunningham argues:

Polluting industries are often located near Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, impacting the health of communities suffering from long standing problems of disenfranchisement and disinvestment. At the same time, these communities are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, hit hard by extreme heat, floods, and the breakdown of critical infrastructure. And Michigan is no exception, from Flint’s lead pipe crisis, to the urban neighborhoods of Detroit where people breathe toxic air on a daily basis.

And the payoff to the underclass is some hypothetical future change in weather, current energy supplies and prices be damned.

Accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels addresses multiple problems at once by cutting carbon emissions while also reducing environmental and public health threats.

Climate alarmism is at the root of making energy less affordable or unaffordable to the common folk. And less reliable. This is energy elitism at its worse.


[1] Founded in 1982, the National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from some 60,000 individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations.

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