JR Dunn at The American Thinker has a run down on the way the environmental movement has hamstrung US energy policy since the 1960s, succeeding in ways most political pressure groups do not. The catalyst for the movement was the 1969 Santa Barbara oil platform spill, which left a sizable chunk (35 miles0 of California coastline mired in petroleum. Left unsaid by most environmental groups is that the culprit was that the US Geological survey had allowed the platform owner to ignore mandated construction regulations.
"The public rallied to save the wildlife with some success. Environmentalists rallied alongside them. Within days, an anti-oil activist group, GOO (Get Oil Out) was in operation, calling for boycotts and circulating petitions to end offshore drilling. Ignored in all the uproar was the fact that Union Oil had been allowed to skimp on heavy-duty protective sheathing by the U.S. Geological Survey. If the piping had been reinforced as called for by standard procedure, the rupture might not have occurred, or might well have been contained."
As a result, most offshore drilling was banned over the next 10 years, just as the first 'gas shortage' devloped due to the Iranian hostage crisis. Then the Exxon Valdez incident occured in 1989 where a drunken captain ran an oil tanker aground dumping 11 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Alaska, confirming the "oil is evil" tautology.
As if this wasn't enough, the Three Mile Island incident, where no radiactivite materials were released took nuclear energy off the table - no new reactors have been built in the Us for over 30 years. Adding insult to injury, this was followed by the much more serious Chernobyl incident in the Soviet Ukraine (note for the record that the Chernobyl reactor design would NEVER had been licensed in the US!).
As Dunn puts it:
"The appropriate response in these cases (Chernobyl being the exception: the only solution there was to tear the system down and start over) would have been to convene a panel of experts, send out investigators, hold hearings, issue recommendations, and see to it that reforms went into effect. This is what occurs following aircraft disasters, large-scale fires, building collapses, or any other catastrophic incident where suspicion exists that things were not being handled according to best practice. (Consider the investigation following the Challenger disaster, for one example.)
But this is not what occurred in these cases. Not in any meaningful sense. Under the new Green paradigm, oil and nuclear energy were not industries to be reformed, but "evils" to be either contained or destroyed. The Greens could have served a useful purpose by pushing for serious reform in management of critical energy industries. Instead, we got the religious impulse, distorted into sheer apocalypticism, with the environmentalists fighting oil and fissionables (plutonium in particular) as products of dark sin, placed on earth to tempt humankind from the path that Gaia intended."