Port: The left’s climate change eschatology obstructs real progress like the Davis Refinery

Rob Port column sig
Rob Port

MINOT, N.D. — “Today in reading the news I realized you could replace the words ‘climate change’ with ‘God’s wrath,’” a friend said in an email this week. “It’s kind of a fun exercise.”

It is fun, though the merriment is tempered by just how obnoxious the politics around the “climate change” debate have become.

While there are plenty of people doing serious and sober work in the climate sciences — stuff worth paying attention to — the way climate change has come to be depicted in political and entertainment circles (a redundancy, I know) has migrated into the territory of eschatology. An end-of-the-world doctrine shouted from the pulpits of power, not at all unlike the prophecies of rapture purported by Christian evangelicals.

Those tones of doom have permeated our culture to the point where even our entertainment is dominated by books, television and movies portraying the future of our society as a dystopia usually affected, to one degree or another, by climate change.

I was thinking of all this during a recent interview with Meridian Energy CEO Bill Prentice for my podcast .


Meridian is fighting to build the Davis Refinery in western North Dakota, somewhat proximate to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Prentice described to me a project which brings his industry into the 21st century. He referred to “a tremendous amount of science and technology that has not been brought to bear in the refining industry,” mostly because the facilities we rely on today were built decades ago.

The Davis Refinery will produce “less pollution than the cars visiting the park,” Prentice claims. “The park generates more pollution than the Davis Refinery will.”

I can’t verify that claim, but I believe him when he says the project will move the ball down the field when it comes to cleaner use our oil and gas resources.

Unfortunately Meridian’s progress toward building it has been beset by legal and political activism from the usual suspects, so blinkered by their apocalyptic ideologies they can’t believe the path to good environmental stewardship may lay through new and improved ways to develop oil resources.

Not one but two legal challenges to the Davis Refinery are headed before the North Dakota Supreme Court .

Meridian and the state of North Dakota have been successful in beating back every one of those challenges so far, but they’ve added a year to the company’s timeline for building the facility.


Who knows what the activists will do after legal recourse has been exhausted?

Will we see violent protests like those targeting the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Every one of you reading this makes use of products and services made possible by oil, coal and natural gas. That’s because we haven’t yet found alternatives to these things.

Given that truth, does it not make sense to make room for better ways to develop and utilize those resources?

Not to the well-funded prophets of doom in the environmental movement, but it may be time to start recognizing their spittle-flecked alarmism for what it is.

Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

What To Read Next
Get Local