The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels in Colorado

In this issue:

  • The moral case for fossil fuels in Colorado
  • The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels alarms the alarmists
  • Technological optimism vs. technological pessimism 
  • Best of Power Hour: Robert Bradley on our energy resources

The moral case for fossil fuels in Colorado

Last Thursday and Friday I had the opportunity to speak to 700+ Western Coloradans about why fossil fuels are vital to their future and the world’s future. 

Colorado is one of the country’s and world’s leading energy battlegrounds, so I was particularly happy to have the opportunity to share my perspective. 

On Thursday night I spoke at Colorado Mesa University, home of a very impressive Energy Management program led by Steve Soychak. (I was happy to learn that students in the program have The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels as required reading.) 

The organizers asked me to do an extended, 90-minute speech, which gave me the opportunity to go more in depth than I usually do. 

We’ll post the speech on YouTube in the next several weeks. It may be my best speech so far introducing The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

The event featured substantial attendance not only by students who are planning careers in oil and gas but also by students in the “sustainability” program who have been taught that fossil fuels, including oil and gas, should be rapidly eliminated from our world. 

The Q&A largely featured questions from the “sustainability” students. These students were very polite and in several cases said my speech gave them a valuable perspective. Some of the questions they raised included:

  • Given that we’re already seeing sea level rise hurt places like Miami, should we really be increasing our use of fossil fuels?
  • Aren’t fossil fuels only low-cost because they receive far more in subsidies than renewables?
  • Why do you give fossil fuels credit for cleaner air and water rather than regulation?
  • Aren’t we going to run out of fossil fuels, since they’re a finite resource?
  • Doesn’t air pollution kill 1.3 million people per year in China?
  • What do you think about the mass extinction of over half of the world’s organisms in the past few decades because of temperature changes?
  • If fossil fuels are so great, why aren’t they benefiting places like Venezuela and Iraq?

The Q&A went on for over an hour and there were still several students eager to ask more questions. 

The CMU event is a model of what I want to achieve on college campuses: opening the minds of people who expect to disagree with me and also empowering those who already agree with me with a new level of clarity.  

Next week I’ll write about my other event, for the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which gave me a lot of ideas about influencing the energy debate in 2020.

P.S If you’re interested in helping to organize or sponsor an event at your university, let me know. Readers of this newsletter are already working on events at Harvard, Yale, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.  

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels alarms the alarmists

Robert Bradley, Jr. has a post at the energy blog Master Resource addressing a hit piece that criticizes Chevron for creating training materials the author claims were influenced by me. 

It’s not easy to excerpt, but Robert suggests that the author of the original story, former New Republic writer, Emily Atkin, debate me on the subject of energy and climate policy. 

I’d be happy to do it. 

Technological optimism vs. technological pessimism

During a recent speech to members of the industry I was asked, “How do you respond to critics who say that you’re a technological optimist when it comes to fossil fuels, and nuclear, and fracking, but you’re not a technological optimist when it comes to battery technology and energy storage that would enable renewables and solar to bring about the same amount of human flourishing as fossil fuels?​” Here’s a (lightly edited) transcript of my answer:

Alex: First, let’s be clear on the choice that’s being offered. Wind, solar, and battery supporters are advocating radical restrictions on fossil fuels. I’m not advocating restrictions on wind, solar, and batteries. I’m proposing freedom for everyone. The reason I’m focused on the superiority of fossil fuels is because many people are trying to restrict them.

I don’t have some fetish for fossil fuels. I just want to be free to buy the best form of energy. And so what I’m saying is that if you restrict fossil fuels, you’re not replacing them with superior wind and solar but dramatically inferior wind and solar, which would be catastrophic for billions of people.

But your question is a good one to direct to the other side. They do have a fetish for wind and solar because they think of them as natural, even though they require major impacts on nature, such as mining. And when people point out their unreliability and the fact they make energy expensive everywhere they’re tried, wind and solar supporters have this pretense of being pro-technological progress. 

But that’s not optimism. It’s delusional to think that after decades of failure the two least promising forms of energy will somehow become the best in a short time period. 

By contrast, what do they say about nuclear? That it’s not safe or too expensive. Why aren’t they optimistic about the potential for nuclear when it’s the only scalable source of non-CO2 energy? And when, in fact, it’s the safest form of energy and it was environmentalist opposition that made it expensive?

They aren’t optimistic about the potential of wind and solar to become low-cost and reliable. That’s just a rationalization for taking away our actual, proven sources of low-cost and reliable energy. 

What it means to be pro-technology is to leave people free, recognize that most ideas are really bad, and let the good ones win on the market.

Best of Power Hour: Robert Bradley on our energy resources

On this week’s Power Hour “best of” episode, I talk to energy guru Robert L. Bradley, Jr, CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, Editor of the MasterResource energy blog, and expert on the history, economics, and philosophy of energy resources.

On this episode, Bradley and I discuss the apocalyptic predictions of “running out of resources” and why they are invariably wrong. Bradley explains why the more resource we consume the more resources we have.