A free-market response to oil price crashes

In this issue:

  • A free-market response to oil crashes—an interview with the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission
  • My response to celebrities calling for a “radical transformation” post COVID-19
  • New Questions and Answers
  • New interviews
  • Hearts and minds
  • Accelerator update

A free-market response to oil crashes—an interview with the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission

On this week’s Power Hour I interview Wayne Christian, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission (the primary governing body over oil and gas in Texas), on why he decided against passing a government-controlled cap on oil production in Texas.

In a recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, Chairman Christian made some excellent points defending his decision:

“[I]ndustry is already reducing production on its own. By allowing the free market to work, producers can determine for themselves what level of production is economical.”

“During times of emergency, there is often pressure to ‘temporarily’ set aside your principles to solve a problem. As this pressure mounts, the cries of “we’ve got to do something” get louder and louder. But what if that solution is unlikely to solve the problem at all? Should a conservative state like Texas trade the free market for government central-planning in the oil patch?”

“I refuse to do something just to say I took action, because taking the wrong action can actually make things worse.”

In my interview with Chairman Christian, we discuss:

  • The history of the Texas Railroad Commission
  • The considerations that informed his decision
  • How passing more free-market policies can help the oil and gas industry
  • How The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels influenced his thinking
  • How to prepare for the anti-fossil fuel movement’s onslaught this election season

It is gratifying to know that my work has significantly influenced and empowered one of the country’s leading energy officials.

Here’s the episode on YouTube and on Apple Podcasts.

My response to celebrities calling for a “radical transformation” post COVID-19

I took some time this week on Twitter and on Power Hour to discuss a widely-circulated open letter by celebrities, including Madonna and Jane Fonda, calling for a “radical transformation” post-COVID-19.

Why respond to a celebrity statement? Such statements often prominently present false moral narratives that are going unchallenged in the culture.

In this case, the narrative is that humanity is destroying the planet through our production and consumption—and that we need governments to radically reduce our freedom in order to save the planet.

Here are the Tweets I wrote.Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 11.48.38 AMScreen Shot 2020-05-13 at 11.48.53 AMScreen Shot 2020-05-13 at 11.49.16 AMScreen Shot 2020-05-13 at 11.50.13 AM

Here’s the segment on Power Hour.

New Questions and Answers

On this week’s Power Hour I answered some questions submitted by Accelerators. (Accelerators who contribute $250 get to ask a question that I answer on one of my podcasts.)

  • Accelerator Question 1: Why do people still believe the doomsayers on the environment when every prediction of global disaster that they have ever made has been wrong?
  • Accelerator Question 2: According to a standard of human flourishing, do you consider the effects of an increase in CO2 emissions to be: (a) net negative (though not catastrophic); (b) neutral; or (c) net positive?
  • Accelerator Question 3: What if any effect might Planet of the Humans have on the climate and energy debate, including possibly helping the pro-reliable energy argument?

These were fun to answer. I’ll tackle some more next week.

New interviews

Two of my recent interviews are now available online.

In one, the Jacki Daily Show, an energy-related podcast, I discuss with Jacki why I think lockdowns are an improper response to COVID-19 and what I think a proper, American, rights-based policy would be. (Note: It’s crucial that we not equate “lockdowns” with “concern about COVID-19” or “social distancing” or “rational COVID-19 policies.”)

Here’s the link. My interview starts at the 22:52 mark.

The other interview, on a podcast called the Bus Driver Experience, was interesting because the host asked a wide range of questions and then challenged me on a bunch of my views. The most interesting question he asked me was: Why do so many smart people disagree with you?

Early in the show I answered the question, which comes down to a false “anti-human-impact framework” that most of us are taught and never question. In later parts of the interview I illustrated how the host himself was having his thinking distorted by that framework.

Here’s the link.

Hearts and minds

Here are three of my favorite comments I’ve gotten from readers and listeners recently.

From Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian (on this week’s Power Hour):

“I appreciate you, Alex, for what you’ve taught me as the Railroad Commission Chairman in the State of Texas. It’s made a great difference in how I’ve done my [job] and I think it’s benefited the citizens of Texas.”

From a fan:

“Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for all the education you’ve given me. During this time right now, talking about my concern for the country with friends and family, I’ve been able to work in my concerns about environment, energy, and the economy in a non confrontational, yet passionate way.”

From a high school teacher:

“I just wanted Alex to know how much I appreciate his clear articulation of facts. I teach Economics and have truly felt alone in the classroom when it comes to environmental issues. Our school has a green club, most every student has a ‘green agenda’ (very rarely well-thought-out) and everywhere I turn I am blasted with a message that defies logic and reason. Your book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and the Power Hour podcast have been such great learning tools and an encouragement to me. Rather than battle unwinnable battles with slogan ready teenage activists, I have been able to just quietly challenge those who will listen to just read your book. By teaching me how to think better about how to frame the argument/debate, you have helped empower students.

“Thank you for the time you spend empowering others to try to do the same.”

Accelerator Update

Thanks to everyone who has made an Accelerator contribution. As a reminder, Accelerator contributions help us invest in research, development, and promotion for four big 2020 projects:

  1. Providing revolutionary energy and environmental messaging for pro-freedom candidates.
  2. Creating a national media presence for the moral case for fossil fuels.
  3. Speaking and debating at leading universities.
  4. Completing The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0 and releasing a custom essay for the election, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels in 2020.”

Here are some comments from new Accelerators:

“My reason for contributing is because I understand the enormous impacts to our daily lives without the massive use of fossil fuels and I truly appreciate the movement and educational platform you are creating that was so sadly neglected! Cheers to you and the movement of awareness around fossil fuel use, as well as, energy use in general.”

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels opened my eyes…and I now want to help spread the message and continue to learn. I am…more worried than ever about the claims and policies being introduced by environmentalists. This leads me to why I contributed and will continue to contribute, I am concerned that if if these environmentalist policies materialize in any way it will severely hamper the United States as a leader in industrial revolution an force billions of people into poverty.”

“I contributed again because I was once again struck by how hard you are working and how much I enjoy reading your newsletter and I thought I’d try to get you a little more with the Prometheus fund matching.”

“I can give at least this much based on what I have received and learned through your work.  I have been following you since ~2012.  I became an avid listener of Power Hour and loved The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels….The way you talk through issues, how principled you are, and how you continuously apply effective frameworks is awesome and inspiring.  I have also come to enjoy The Human Flourishing Project podcast since quarantine started and I’ve made time to listen.”

You can make an Accelerator contribution here.

That’s it for this week. I’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0 as well as helping candidates with energy messaging for the 2020 election. I hope to be able to share more about that work next week. 

To Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Energy,