MINOT, N.D. — If you dare suggest that power sources such as coal or oil still have great utility in a modern economy, you're likely to be confronted by someone carrying on as if you're some anti-progress Luddite.

All the cool kids know that the future is wind and solar.

Coal and oil are old and busted.

Except, if that's true, why do these wizards of smart have to work so hard to stop investment in fossil fuels?

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

It's happening all around us.

There's the divestment movement aimed at bullying investors away from financing pipelines or coal mines. It's been successful, especially with politically vulnerable capital such as university endowments and publicly-traded companies.

What higher education official or board member, presiding over a thoroughly left-wing campus, will risk their career going to the mattresses over investing in coal?

Which modern executive is willing to stand against a populist mob of activist investors who have it out for the oil industry?

Politicians, of course, are the most reactionary. During the violent protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the City of Seattle's elected leaders tried to end their relationship with Wells Fargo (it didn't go well as no other banks bid for the city's business).

Variations of that story have played out in left-leaning communities around the nation.

Even the regulators are getting in on the action. Recently the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee sent a letter to the Federal Reserve asking them not to use their regulatory authority to promote climate change politics.

These tactics are obstruction.

A political ploy, not all that different from trying to stop pipelines with riots and arson. Though more peaceful, the goal is to choke off investment in coal and oil.

But why does that investment have to be curtailed?

If coal and oil and other forms of energy disfavored by the political left are so self-evidently old-fashioned, so clearly out of touch with where the modern energy markets are going, why do we need bullying politics and heavy-handed regulation to deter investment in them?

If wind turbines and solar panels are the future, why must they be propped up with deep production subsidies while fossil fuels are hamstrung?

Maybe because, from a pragmatic point of view, one not addled by ideology, the fossil fuels work to supply energy in a cost-effective and profitable manner, and green energy doesn't?

Free of political activism and meddling bureaucracy, plenty of capital would flow toward building coal plants and pipelines because those things are still relevant.

They still work.

While "green energy" sees plenty of investment, too, we have to ask what's driving it.

Does it work? Or are the investors just out to harvest the subsidies while enjoying the political goodwill it buys them?

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com.