November 17, 2015
Wall Street Journal
Detractors say it’s bad for both consumers and the environment. Supporters say it’s needed for the continued development of alternative fuels. Subscription Required.
Over the last three decades, author, journalist, and public speaker Robert Bryce has published more than 1,000 articles and five books. His byline has appeared in dozens of publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and National Review to the Sydney Morning Herald and New York Times. In 2010, he published Power Hungry: The Myths of Green Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. His most recent book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong, was published in 2014 by his longtime publisher, PublicAffairs, and is now available in paperback. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, he lives in Austin.
Climate scientists want the world to use more nuclear energy to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, yet America's nuclear sector is withering. Unless Congress acts to encourage next-generation nuclear technology, the United States will be relegated to second-tier status when it comes to the development and deployment of smaller, cheaper, safer reactors that could play a crucial role in low-carbon electricity production all over the world.
Environmentalists are correct in calling President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipelinea “symbolic” victory, but that description is too generous. For them, it’s a Pyrrhic victory of the first order because the main factor behind Obama’s decision is something environmentalists hate even more than Keystone: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes and her allies are on a mission to blame Big Oil for what they believe is an inadequate global response to climate change.
To be clear, there’s nothing original about their claims. Demonizing oil and gas companies is a standard practice on the left. What beggars belief is Oreskes’s prescribed remedy for rising carbon dioxide emissions: In an October 9 op-ed in the New York Times, she claimed that rather than continuing to produce oil and natural gas, the industry should have been “investing in renewables and biofuels.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown has a vision: When it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions, he wants his fellow Californians to emulate North Koreans. Meanwhile, many of Mr. Brown’s fellow Democrats—including President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders—will settle for putting Americans on a par with residents of Mexico.
If you want to irritate promoters of the Clean Power Plan, just state the obvious: It’s going to increase electricity prices, and that will be bad for the poor and the middle class.
Last Monday, I made that very point during an interview on KPCC radio in Los Angeles, (“Air Talk with Larry Mantle”). My counterpart was David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a group that has pushed hard for the Clean Power Plan. After I pointed out that electricity prices in Europe had soared due to renewable-energy mandates, Doniger replied with something to the effect that I should not be using “scare stories” that are a “decade old.”
Two years ago, I wrote a piece for NRO about a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that NextEra Energy, America’s biggest wind-energy producer, had filed against Esther Wrightman, an anti-wind-project activist from the tiny village (pop.: 120) of Kerwood, Ontario. It’s now time for an update.
NextEra overcame Wrightman’s opposition to the Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, a 60-megawatt project that began producing electricity last year. The 38-turbine wind project was erected right next to Wrightman’s home. In June 2014, she left not only Kerwood but Ontario and, along with her two children, her husband (who is disabled), and her parents, moved to the larger village (pop.: 1,889) of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The Wrightmans also relocated their family business, Wrightman Alpines, a nursery that specializes in alpine plants.
When it comes to energy supplies — and therefore carbon dioxide emissions and climate change — who are you going to believe? Pope Francis, or BP?
Whether you love the pope and hate BP, or vice versa, doesn’t matter. What matters when discussing energy availability, climate change, and poverty are hard numbers and simple math. And the latest edition of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, which was released eight days before Pope Francis issued his encyclical on climate change, is chockfull of numbers that expose the pope’s failed climate math. Indeed, an analysis of the two documents reveals the deep, and perhaps unbridgeable, chasm between the religiosity that pervades discussions about climate change and the hard truths about the energy sector.
Last Friday, the EPA decreed the amount of ethanol that retailers must blend into their gasoline. For 2015, it will be about 14 billion gallons. That decree provides an opportunity to ask a simple question: How have ethanol producers been able to garner a federal mandate that requires motorists to buy their low-heat-content, hydrophilic, motor-fuel moonshine?
For years, environmental activists have opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that development of Canada’s oil sands will be “game over for the climate.” But if those same activists are sincere about climate change, why aren’t they getting arrested outside the White House to protest the use of corn ethanol?
The Clean Power Plan is among the most controversial mandates ever attempted by the federal bureaucracy. The Environmental Protection Agency has received over 1.6 million comments on the proposed regulation, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity-generation sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
It’s a manifesto smackdown, a fight among the members of the green Left for the intellectual and moral high ground. It’s also a fight that reflects the growing schism within American environmentalism.
On one side are the pro-energy, pro-density humanists. They call themselves ecomodernists and are led by the Breakthrough Institute, a centrist, Oakland-based environmental group.On Wednesday, it released what it describes as an “ecomodernist manifesto,” a document that, at root, states the obvious: Economic development is essential for environmental protection.
Now that Hillary Clinton has launched her second bid for the White House, we will see even more scrutiny of her on everything from her time at State to the Clinton Foundation’s funders. But the issue that best exposes Clinton’s enormous ambition — and her readiness to sacrifice the interests of consumers to that ambition — is her flip-flop on the corn ethanol tax.
Among the preachers of climate apocalypse, Roger Pielke Jr. is a heretic. Pielke’s sin: refusing to fall in line and accept the claims that climate chaos is upon us and that the only solution to the pending catastrophe is to implement immediate and drastic cuts to carbon dioxide emissions in every country in the world, including the impoverished ones.
With the collapse in global oil prices, members of Congress are once again pushing to raise the federal gasoline tax, with the proceeds going to new roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. While some in Congress might be averse to a tax increase of any kind, they might find it more palatable if it came packaged with a tax cut.
Fortunately, there is a perfect option, a hidden levy that has benefited a small group of farmers and manufacturers in a handful of states: the corn ethanol tax.
Of the myriad claims being made about energy, the one most in need of debunking is this: The U.S. is losing out to countries such as China and Germany when it comes to “clean energy.”
The notional cure for America’s lagging performance, of course, is more governmental intervention in the energy markets. That intervention, and the need for more clean energy — which, of course, largely means more subsidies for wind and solar power — are inextricably tied to discussions about climate change, carbon-dioxide emissions, and the supposed need for America to lead the way to a new energy future.