B.F. Randall is a Utah-based lawyer who has gained traction on Twitter and Substack for his views about mining, metals, and the importance of diesel fuel (“crude oil is like raw milk, and diesel fuel is the cream) to the global economy. In this episode, Randall explains why he calls wind and solar energy “random Uber,” why the mining industry loves wind energy, and his unstinting support for nuclear energy, which he explains by asking “ “why are we mining atoms when we could be splitting them?” (This episode was recorded on February 13, 2023.)
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, everyone, welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And I’m pleased to welcome BF Randall. He is a lawyer based in Utah who writes on Twitter at mining underscore Adams BF Welcome to the power hungry podcast.
B.F. Randall 0:22
Happy to be here.
Robert Bryce 0:23
So I warned you before we started that guests on this podcast introduce themselves. So if you don’t mind, if you imagine you’ve arrived somewhere you don’t know anyone you have about 60 seconds, please introduce yourself.
B.F. Randall 0:36
Sure. So I’m BF Randall. I’ve been been practicing law for almost three decades now in Utah. I did. did really well. In law school I had, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do things that I enjoy that I like, and I love science and technology and energy, and I just gravitated to environmental law, energy law and worked. I’ve worked at several different law firms over the years, including a really large world, one of the world’s leading energy law firms. I worked there for several years, doing lots of m&a work, lots of energy, project work, lots of mining work, pipeline work, gas pipeline work, and kind of, uh, you know, I’ve always felt like I’m, you know, the jack of all trades and master of none, but there are a few that I know really well. So, I joined Twitter, in March, last year, hasn’t even been a year. And I really joined Twitter just to follow the war in Ukraine, because it’s the most important geopolitical event that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I think even more than like the Vietnam War of it. So I started getting in my feed, you know, energy, energy policy, renewable energy and nuclear power. And I just started, I was being flippant and commenting on things because it’s, it’s so, so much. It’s just absurd to me. And I started gaining followers and I and I, one Sunday afternoon, I started this copper thread because I live by Kennecott Copper. And that thing went viral like that had in four days that had like 4 million views. It was four or 5 million views and just a few days. And I I was shocked. I did not understand why that happened. Because I only had a few 100 followers when I started that thread. So
Robert Bryce 2:29
So you’ve become well that’s so if you don’t mind, I’m gonna interrupt and I hope you don’t mind because I interrupt a fair amount. I’d like to keep the conversations conversational. But that was I think you’re the first guest. I only know your work. Are you through Twitter. And you’re unusual in that in being a guest on this show in that that’s really the only no way that I know about you. But you mentioned Twitter, you already have about 16,000 followers, which I’ve been on Twitter a long time. I’m not jealous, but you have more Twitter followers than I do in less than a year. And you’ll end and you I think about you is in the same category is another Twitter writer named John Lee Paramore who has now 38,000 Twitter followers, and he writes about mining and you write a lot about mining your your Twitter handle is at mining underscore Adams. A tea Oh, Ms. You said you got on in March of 2022. You’ve got Why did you gain such popularity? I mean, this is one of the things that what the main question I wanted to put to you is that you and Paramore who’s been on I think maybe maybe a little bit longer. But both of you have focused on the metals mining and metals and mining and minerals issues around alternative energy technology. And you’ve blown up Why do you think that? Why have you gained so much traction?
B.F. Randall 3:50
You know, that first copper thread I put up I deleted it because it was really it was a stream of consciousness thing. I knew to Twitter, I’d never done anything like that before it just came. And I kind of had some rabbit holes. I made some analytical errors. You can’t you can’t edit Twitter. But it was it was overwhelming. To me. It was way more attention than I wanted to get. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that question like what is going on here? This is this is really bizarre.
Robert Bryce 4:18
You’re mystified by your own popularity is that I mean?
B.F. Randall 4:21
I think so. And I think so many people are don’t understand just fundamental facts about how things work. And how how integrated systems work, how industrial systems work together, that that when you put factual information out there, people are like wow, that they just they’re shocked that they’re shocked to learn how things work so I can’t explain it any other way. I’ve actually quiz people like people that I picked up you know in Europe and all over the world and by ask them what what was so interesting about that copper thread because of what wasn’t it wasn’t that interesting to me like this is you could watch a documentary about copper mining and learn way more than I put up there.
Robert Bryce 5:10
But, but Twitter enforces that discipline of being short, right. That’s one of the things that I think I would say. The other thing about Paramore, and I know you’ve been in touch with Peda Morin, you’ve used his work on your sub stack. And by the way, just a quick plug here, BF Randall. He’s on Twitter at mining underscore Adams, and on substack bf randall.substack.com. John Lee Paramore, as I said, has 38,000 followers he put up a thread in January of 2023, that has 5.3 million views. It starts out as a miner for 40 years, I’ve worked in various mines around the world, gold, platinum, copper, coal, lead, zinc, oil and salt. I’m going to tell you something and here it is, we will destroy the Earth in the name of green energy. Follow along and I will explain that, as I said heads now 5.3 million views 23,000 retweets, you’ve had a somewhat similar experience or somewhat similar you and Paramore, I think travel in a very similar kind of furrow in the in the, in the farm here pointing out that fundamental issue around alternative energy, I don’t call it green energy. Its alternative is that the mining issue is the key constraint here. And you’ve written a lot about diesel fuel. And I’ll just on February 5, I’ll quote you now. You said wind and solar Rube Goldberg machines you talk about Rube Goldberg a lot are absurd wind and solar is chaos. Nuclear energy will last humanity as long as the sun will exists a few days exist. As long as the sun will exist a few days before that you wrote wind, solar Rube Goldberg Goldberg machines don’t scale. They compete with wind and food and housing, energy poverty and inflation will eat us alive. Nuclear power is the only energy engine that matters and you have been relentless, I would say is that a fair word? And you’re hammering on wind and solar and pointing out that nuclear is the way forward and why are you so why are you so relentless on that same message?
B.F. Randall 7:14
You know, it’s because, hey, my wife and I have nine children. I have 7.25 grandchildren, I see the trajectory of our planet and where we’re going as it is. It is troubling to me, I am bothered by where we’re going by the grift. The misinformation, the NGOs, the politics behind this clean glute green, renewable, sustainable energy, fake, it’s all fake. It’s just a giant fake scam, like it is. The way that it works is it makes garbage energy and introduces chaos into electrical into what would otherwise be a very stable grid. And the trajectory is so wrong. And there are so few people who understand it that I’m just trying to raise my hand in my free time. I work full time like I don’t make any money on what I do. This is just I’m trying to be pro bono pubblico like this is just public service, from my point of view. And that’s why I created the substack library because I started putting together all of these really long threads and one of my followers said, hey, you need to do substack because Twitter’s not. And I started irritating some Twitter people like these crazy long threads are driving us crazy. So I started going back and capturing my old threads. And that’s why I put John’s thread on my Twitter feed with his permission because those feeds those long threads just get lost like it’s hard to.
Robert Bryce 8:50
And they’re hard to they’re hard to resurface. So you’re on substack and you’re charging nothing for that. You’re on Twitter, and you obviously are well let me just ask this then because look, I’ve been a reporter for a long time and I you know, people say nasty things sometimes about me and oh, gee, it hurts my feelings, whatever. Right? That’s comes with this. Are you getting attacked? Do people come after you? And if so, what did they say?
B.F. Randall 9:17
You know, I don’t really get attacked, but it’s kind of interesting and some of the big names when I was on. When I was on keepers interview with the couple he mentioned a few names and there’s some Libra like I said it said something about me something really idiotic about me. And I kind of I didn’t even know what happened like I had mentioned it just before the my my podcast and I looked at it and I was like, What is he talking about?
Robert Bryce 9:48
So Michael Michael Lee brick from
B.F. Randall 9:51
bragged on that thread because it was so absurd. And he I don’t get any like Lee Brecht and the Like the kind of the renewable energy proponents hardly ever come out like, I don’t see it, but if they do, I don’t know about it. I don’t care like I don’t have. I’m not making any money. Like I’m literally an Eagle Scout like this is honestly pro bono publico like I am really well, here’s the thing I have this, I think, one of the pieces of feedback I’ve gotten, if you look at my substack, I have I had a thread that talks about a nuclear power does not have a natural constituency. And I think that and I take credit for that. And he people asked me, Where did you get that? I said, well, that’s just me. That’s my observation. And I think it’s true. It doesn’t, it produces so much energy with so few inputs, that the opportunities for grift are non existent, that you can’t get gripped into it. So that’s it. That’s why there’s so much. There’s so many millions and hundreds of millions and maybe billions of dollars fighting against nuclear power on the one hand, and it’s really going to take an educated, literate energy literate electorate to make nuclear power happen, because it doesn’t have you know, there are a couple of you know, uranium producers that they don’t make money like uranium is has been $20 $25 a pound for. Nobody’s making money on uranium, like it.
Robert Bryce 11:27
That’s an interesting point. I want to follow up on that, because it was something I wrote down here, and it was on February 15. And maybe you’ve said this before, it was on Twitter, you said we are being gaslighted by entrenched powers, wind and solar perpetuate fossil fuels forever, quite literally. Nuclear power keeps fossil fuels in the ground. You went on nuclear power is number one problem. It produces so much energy with so few inputs, that there’s little room for grift. Nuclear power has no natural constituency, save informed voters. We have a lot of work to do. And I think that rhymes with me. And I’ve thought about it in similar terms in that you think about what who the constituencies on Capitol Hill, right? If you look at oil and gas? Well, it’s the Texas delegation, right? It let’s be very clear about it’s very It has a geographic weight. And the same would can be said for Louisiana. Same could be said now for even Ohio and Pennsylvania. Right? Those are oil and gas states to some degree, not like Texas or New Mexico or Oklahoma. But still compare that with wind. Okay, well, you could say Iowa right. Charles Grassley has been behind the wind business forever, right. And that’s part of his thing. California, they’re all in their constituency, their delegate is all in for renewables, because that’s part of the California thing. But there’s no natural constituency or no delegation, state delegation in Washington DC, that is in charge, or that would come to the table and promote nuclear except maybe Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. But who else? I mean, there’s no, there’s no state Wait, right is that as I think about the pure politics in Washington, no state delegation that’s going to stand up and say, dammit, we’re here for nuclear, we’re here to stand up for nuclear. But you But your point is the constituency is not just about the political constituency, it’s more broadly in the American public and in the moneyed class, the big banks, etc. Can you explore that a little more about what that lack of natural constituency because I just wanted to interject my own thoughts about it? Because I’ve thought about that in the same lines, but I think you you stated it very well.
B.F. Randall 13:32
I think it’s it’s all of the above. I mean, it’s it’s the it’s the supply markets, I mean, you know, there’s just such as nuclear power makes so much energy for so long with so few inputs that this look at who supplies uranium fuel, who supplies materials, you know, to that industry to build nuclear power plants. It’s a really small market. Just look just look at the worldwide uranium market, the capitalization of what that’s worth, it is trivial dollars, like there’s so much uranium and in a fast reactor, like once we get past our current Light Water Reactor limitations, and we get into non lead gen four reactors we get into non light water reactors and we’re able to now circle back and start using depleted uranium spent or used nuclear fuel as fuel for Gen four. You even gets the story even gets that much more compelling good because we’ve the world has mined up not just all the uranium spent the use fuel, but behind that as a whole bunch of depleted uranium. So we can actually power the world just on depleted uranium and use nuclear fuel for like hundreds and hundreds of years. I mean, it
Robert Bryce 14:59
I like that I like that point too. And it’s one that it’s I think there’s a corollary here. And I’m not trying to hog the microphone, although I’ve been known to do that, but that the material inputs for for nuclear are so much lower right, it requires less steel, less copper, far less, you know, orders are, you know, multiples of less copper steel, neodymium iron, boron magnets, all these other things, these inputs that, but whereas the natural constituency for wind or solar, you’ve got the big banks who and the big in the big corporations who want the subsidies, right and can monetize the subsidies, then you have the court that and the corporation’s, obviously, then they can sell the power. And then you have the NGOs who can raise money that climate focused NGOs can raise money around the deployment and get money from the corporations that it reminds me of my friend Chuck spinneys line about the self licking ice cream cone, you’ve got this whole system of networks, the constituencies that want to want to, well, I’ll use your word, make room for grift if I hitting it correctly there,
B.F. Randall 16:03
and don’t leave out the mining industry. The mining industry loves renewal, you know, we’re, you know, on renewable energy. I mean, if you’re a copper miner, like when I was working at Lucerne Valley copper down in southern Utah, where I did that as outside counsel for a long time. All of that copper they made, I mean millions and millions of dollars, they were selling that that was great, a 99.9 cathode, and it was going to rod mill in Missouri. And they were turning that all into wire for wind turbines. Because it takes a really high grade copper to make the windings because the windings have to be you know, the wire has to be thin, and it can’t break. If there’s any impurity in the cathode, the wire breaks and then the rod mill like
Robert Bryce 16:51
you’ve just lost, and they need that wire for the generator. And so yeah, Durbin’s But don’t
B.F. Randall 16:55
get me wrong, the mining industry loves when are you kidding me? They I mean, we’re talking about millions and the demand on the copper industry like they, that is a huge market for them. So don’t don’t overlook everybody that the supply chain, everybody, you know, the miners, the wholesalers that like everybody in that whole supply chain loves wind and solar like it.
Robert Bryce 17:21
Because there’s so much to be sold, right? There’s so much material in that supply chain, because there’s so much stuff to be moved the muck in trucking industry, I guess I’m thinking out loud here, trucking industry, the jobbers, these would this would be good for them.
B.F. Randall 17:35
Like a guy that I know, a former client, he invented the spaceframe wind power, which is a structural steel wind tower. And GE wind ended up buying that for millions and millions of dollars. And it was the the theory is they never commercialize. I don’t know why. But the theory is, you know, in terms of structure, the tube idea is not scale, you lose your scale, you cannot make that that wind turbine structure out of a tube, like you can’t, there are engineering limitations on scale. And but if you can make it out of structural steel, I think of the big radio towers that are structural lattice, you know, right, right. And he invented a, that kind of a tower for when, and you can put all the steel in a container and you know, ship it worldwide kind of was the idea. My father’s a civil engineer in the steel business. And he actually partnered with these guys. And my father has like two or three patents in his name. And he kind of at because he’s a civil engineer, he does a steel fab and erection, he added to what they had done. And he ended up with on the erection side coming up with innovative ways to erect this tower. And that company may be in the south of GE when they made millions and millions of dollars, just kind of inventing a new mousetrap. Again, it’s just the market. The opportunities are enormous if you can get into it, like there’s so much competition to get to get into that market and everybody gets paid like it.
Robert Bryce 19:09
Well, it’s interesting, you know, you’re making me think about this in a different way. And I’ve followed the land use conflicts for a long time right now for 13 years being you know, people opposing these projects. But they are getting in many cases steamrolled by big money outfits, some of them foreign corporations, but you’re making me understand this in a different way about the momentum that is behind the wind and solar push that it’s a very broad based, convenient, broad based constituency that is that gets paid by building more wind and solar and but they don’t but they’re no one of the points that I’ll come back to you or that you’ve said about chaos, energy, garbage, electricity, that that doesn’t matter to them because they’re not the ones operating the grid, so it doesn’t, so they they only get paid to build stuff and the result of it isn’t there. problem is and that is that one of the things that really is motivating you on this?
B.F. Randall 20:05
Oh, yeah. Well, it’s the mutual exclusivity. I mean, one of the things I see on Twitter, even people who are pro nuclear power, they also say, Oh, well, let’s play nice. And let’s, you know, don’t piss all of the above. And it’s like, okay, it, if you go with all of the above, you’re gonna have how much more transmission and like, you lose the benefits of having nuclear power alone. You get to you don’t need all that other stuff. Just do nuclear power. Because it will do everything all by itself. And the, you know, and then everyone says, well, nuclear power is too expensive. Well, that is the biggest lie that ever existed. If you count the total system costs for wind and solar, you know, it’s astronomically expensive. But that’s not how they do it. They say, Oh, well, we’ll use magic accounting and prove that it’s lower cost. But I’ll say what’s driving the up. So basically, what we have is in the energy space, because of laws, you know, there are only two kinds of there are only two new energy projects that ever get built. It’s either dual combined cycle natural gas, you know, it’s a natural gas plant, because there’s no new coal, or it’s when solar and the wind solar, it’s an arbitrage from an find that standpoint, it’s an arbitrage, because of the investment tax credit, where the investors are able to AMORT they get that amortization from day one. Like they’re able, because of the investment, the investment tax credit is an amazing arbitrage like that. And the production tasks tax credit, is the economics behind that are so compelling that yeah, you have, you have all kinds of energy developers and investors behind them looking to get as much capital deployed as possible, because it is just a it’s a money machine. And they don’t care about the grid. I mean, that that’s all just they don’t care about that.
Robert Bryce 22:10
That’s not their problem. No. Well, so run me uh, can you walk through the economics in on the PTC or the ITC, you said there, how compelling they are to can you there you have those numbers at your hand at hand that you can give us some idea of what your time
B.F. Randall 22:24
I’m not a finance guy. But you know, I did, I did a lot of utility work. And I actually did like cogeneration work under PURPA, the public utility, the federal law that allows for qualified facilities, and it’s intended to, and it was used by wind and solar extensively. It was kind of abused, it was kind of was amended that back in the day when that was when purple was being used. I did, you know, again, some utility work. But I can’t I mean, I’m not a numbers guy, I can just tell you that there is, you know, in the utility business, there’s just a huge fight. Like you don’t see this on, like, the public is not aware of this. But there’s just there’s a huge fight about who gets to deploy capital. Right. You know, the utilities. If, you know, Berkshire Hathaway, the reason they own so many utilities and energy infrastructure is to deploy capital, because that’s how it works. So the more capital that they can deploy, they get a guaranteed return on investment. So for every billion dollars of new stock, so if they can build it, they can build a billion this usually finance 5050. So you know, traditional utility business, right? We want to build as much crap as we can. Why? Because I can print stock. And I get to finance that new infrastructure with 50%. Equity. So if I have a billion dollar project, I can issue a half $500 million of new stock, and I get a guaranteed return on investment for ever. I guess it’s far away
Robert Bryce 23:58
from either the regulator or but if they have the PTC or the ITC, they add that on top.
B.F. Randall 24:04
Oh, yeah. Well, I’m getting to that. So you know, traditional traditional utility is we want to do we Berkshire Hathaway wants to print stock, and then we’re gonna go with the other half, we’re going to finance with debt. So there’s a and that’s the reason that utility works like that their business is to build infrastructure and, and, and print stock so they can they can get money forever, like they get, they get a guaranteed ROI on equity, like forever. And then they get then they get all the benefits of appreciation and you know, it’s a great investment. So but when wind and solar came in, you have a different set of investors you have other investors competing with utilities for for the right to go finance stuff. So there’s they’re there, there is a big fight. So that’s why that’s why integrated utilities want to build as much wind and solar as they can they want to do it inside the rate base. Right. And you know, there’s this whole, this whole fight going on. In Yeah, but the ITC and the PTC are a big, huge incentive to just build as much as they can wherever they can.
Robert Bryce 25:16
Right. And the numbers are, and I wrote about this in the I think it was in the hill a few months ago. Now it’s the total dollar number for the PTC and the EITC. Between now and 2030 is something on the order of $240 billion a quarter trillion dollars, it’s just a massive amount of tax credits or call it what they call them, call them what they are. Subsidies is mining the key constraint here for renewables then because I’ve had another guest on the podcast Simon Misha, we talked about this and you’ve been in the mining business you mentioned that miners are you know, they love this new demand for copper and the nickel and I didn’t realize how zinc intensive some of these particularly wind is and I yeas numbers point this out is mining the key constraint that I wanted then after this comes dovetails with your work on diesel fuel, but is mining then the key constraint here? I’ve looked at it from land use, but he’s missed what how do you see the key constraint on all of this?
B.F. Randall 26:16
I think so. One of the things I’ve brought, I think, to the to the debate that people acknowledge that they have, most people haven’t thought about this, and I think might be a couple of podcasts are really focused on this. But if you think about, you know, the how, how important diesel fuel is to civilization, all of our work, all the work of civilization, all of the movement, I mean, look around your look around my house, right all the sheetrock in my house, all the wood, the glass, the windows, you know, the excavation of my of my house, that was all done with diesel fuel like it, all the food that we eat is, I don’t know, farmers will tell you that diesel fuel is between 40 and 60% of their direct costs of farming. So when you when you when you eat a piece of bread, the diesel fuel part of that is is material. And so the problem with scale, it’s a scale problem. So you know I Michaud talks a lot about the actual minerals, which I call the atoms. And the truth is, I don’t think we’re going to ever run out of atoms like a book, it will just get more expensive. But the limiting factor, I think, ultimately is is diesel fuel because diesel fuel is such a small fraction of crude oil, that and this and farming, agriculture, mining, you know, transportation, trucking and logistics, all the it’s all based on diesel fuel. So if you start mining up, if you double or triple the world’s mining, you’re going to double and triple the demand of diesel fuel. And that’s going to necessarily result in doubling or tripling the amount of crude oil necessary to support that it will also make diesel fuel go up and gasoline go down. Because for every gallon of diesel fuel we make we make two or three gallons of gasoline, it’s automatic. So it you can’t scale it without starving to death, like the inflation just think about the inflation that happens when you start you know and then like all of this, all of this government stimulation and you know the the the inflation Reduction Act and all the construction behind that like all the earthmoving and it’s so much demand on diesel fuel that it that’s why the petroleum industry just goes nuts because it the diesel fuel demand is so huge.
Robert Bryce 28:51
I’m gonna I’m gonna interrupt you here because you wrote in it was in November. Now diesel fuel prices have come down somewhat in the last few months, moderated a little bit and last fall there was a lot of concern about even shortages. But you wrote a piece on substack and it was called crude oil is like raw milk and diesel fuel is the cream. Good. This is really good stuff. So I want to read the whole thing if you don’t mind the worldwide Rube Goldberg Berg machine wind solar battery deployment is the biggest fossil fuel sucking monster the world has ever seen at the plant scales and the doing diesel fuel and the looming diesel fuel shortage will wreck everything you continue distillates, especially the diesel fuel fraction of the crude green is like civilizations blood. Without it most modern humans would die in short order. We can’t live on skim milk. We do enjoy cars, but these are toys compared to the real work required to sustain civilization. distillate is a precious form of chemical energy battery. Do not waste distillates, diesel and jet engines combined with hydraulic fluid perform perhaps 85% of all civilizations work. You know it’s just a great summary of this really miraculous form of energy that we take for granted that distillate, the middle distillate fraction of the barrel, right jet fuel, kerosene, diesel fuel, fuel oil, that these are the things that provide that mood that fuel the prime movers. And if we don’t have fuel the prime movers we are screwed.
B.F. Randall 30:17
Well, and then as we inflate the prime movers, we have energy poverty like it. Don’t waste it like why waste it? Getting getting back to nuclear power, we do nuclear power alone. We don’t have to waste all that diesel fuel on all the transmission and mining. And it’s crazy because it doesn’t scale. And even if we do scale it the kind of power that makes is literally garbage power. It’s got it. It’s I call it a random Uber, like electric energy is a service. It’s not. It’s not a commodity it doesn’t. It’s a real time service. So people understand that either like it. Let me
Robert Bryce 30:59
Can I interrupt you because I’m so glad you said that, because this is something that I didn’t quite I’d heard before, right. But I didn’t really understand it till I went to Beirut. And in my first in our first film, Tyson Culver, and some of our colleagues went to Beirut and the generator mafia, they don’t sell electricity as a commodity, they sell it as a service. They ask how many amps Do you want? How much power do you want, we will deliver you deliver you power, you use as many watt hours as you want, we will not we’re not going to put a meter on your on your your feet. But yet, this I think is one of the key policy errors of the policymakers don’t understand that energy, that electricity is not a commodity, it’s a service dammit. And until you understand that, we’re gonna get bad policy. So can you explain that way? I love how you said that. If you don’t mind accentuating that what is this part of the root of why we get getting such bad policy?
B.F. Randall 31:52
Oh, it’s insane. I I have an article on my substack where the best analogy I can come up with is Uber. So Uber is a service. And we all know, Uber is wonderful. Uber works really well. Like they, you know, the supply and demand is is so fluid, you know, and it works really well. It’s a service and and time it’s about it’s about that time like it has to be have to have a driver in the right place at the right time. So electrical, electrical energy service is exactly the same. There’s no difference. So the generation and the consumption are have to be literally like this, or you have a blackout. If you have more generation and consumption, then you have like the grid has to shed that load or bad things happen. So you have to have constant matching of consumption and production constantly. And we’ve worked it out before wind and solar, we have we have this nailed out. Like we know how this works. It’s very predictable. And when you and there
Robert Bryce 33:03
was accountability in the system, because we had an integrated utility that owned the whole thing, right?
B.F. Randall 33:08
I think I think that system worked really well. I mean, I mean it does. When you add wind and solar, it’s kind of my analogy is it’s random Uber. So now what you have to do is just say, hey, Uber, knock knock. We love. You’re not cleaning green enough. So we’re going to create a back a back surface called random Uber. And you have to pay for all so we’re going to just generate rides randomly. Like sometimes in the 2am. We you might have 10,000 Uber’s running around.
Robert Bryce 33:43
And you want to go downtown. Oh, well, you don’t want to go down? Well, we’re here anyway. And then.
B.F. Randall 33:47
And then they stop like, oh, let’s just stopped. So but when we when random Uber happens, you have to schedule that random Uber ride for like you have to do your best to scheduled up. And you have to be you have to back it up with an actual Uber driver all the time. Because if the car stops, you have to get somebody to pick it up. I like Yeah, I like that. It’s a great. Oh, and by the way, you’re going to your new Uber cert, your normal Uber service, you have to pay for random Uber on the back end. You have to pay for the app include that in your rate.
Robert Bryce 34:19
And random Uber subsidized. Exactly, yeah.
B.F. Randall 34:23
So we are paying for. We have Uber on our electric grid. But we’re paying for random Uber in the background. Whether we use it or not. It’s called it’s curtailment. Like there it’s mutually exclusive. We can’t have curtailed study curtailment who pays for curtailment? That’s the question.
Robert Bryce 34:44
Well, I found your article here. It’s on both. It’s on your substack and again, my guest is BF Randall. He is a lawyer who is on Twitter, Utah based lawyer who’s on Twitter at mining underscore Adams and on substack BF Randall Dotsub stack.com I found your article fuel is a commodity. Uber is a service and flew Ober is a loser which flew Uber is it’s random. Uber is random. Okay. Well, I hadn’t heard and heard flew Uber, right? You propose the new fruit? Here it is. I proved propose Flubaroo the new random Uber mobility service. Got it? Well, so I’d like that way you’ve, you’ve described that I thought about it in taxi terms, right? If you had a taxi service, and you had one taxi that only worked when the wind blew or the sun shone, but you’d still have to have another taxi that was still there. But I like the idea of Uber because it’s clearly a service, right? And it’s clearly a time defined service. You need it now, because I got an appointment downtown. I can’t go tomorrow. I can’t go at three o’clock when that might be convenient for you. I gotta go now. And but you have to maintain the two fleets, the random Uber and the reliable Uber. I like that. That’s very good.
B.F. Randall 35:59
That literally were true. How much more would your Uber ride cost 234 times more than you’re paying now. Problem?
Robert Bryce 36:06
Well, it’s interesting, because just yesterday, a friend of mine, in fact, it’s a guest on my podcast, Roger Pilkey, Jr, son here. He lives here in Austin. And he doesn’t own a car he just owns he came over to the house. But he did Uber Hubert over here. And he found it’s cheaper than having a car and you know, and that’s good for him. Right? He lives downtown and a high rise. And so you kind of want to you know, he’s one of these millennials or Gen z’s. I don’t forget my millennials and Gen Z’s all mixed up. But it was even more convenient for him than owning a real car. But if to your point, if he had to pay for the random Uber and Uber again, that wouldn’t cost him 10 or $12 or $15. Right? It cost him substantially more than that. So I like how you talk about diesel and the diesel engine because Rudolf Diesel is one of the most you know, great inventors of all time who apparently committed suicide by jumping off a boat in the in the middle of the ocean. You also but on your substack here you talk about nuclear power. And you in this is your about you describe your own bio, or you put it this way nuclear power equals the single best solution for Humanity’s extensional and interrelated geopolitical, economic and environmental problems. Mining plus energy equals life. And then you quote John Moses Browning, who I understand is a distant cousin of yours or an A from way back. John Moses Browning equals simple always works best Browning designed as obviously as a firearms designer, design the model of 1911 Colt, so he grew up or designed the 1911 Colt and some other things in a house that’s not far from where you live in Utah. Tell us about that.
B.F. Randall 37:41
Yeah, so John, John branding us might know, I don’t know how many greats back but he’s, he’s my grandma’s. My grandma’s grandma’s brother. So great, great grandfather, then would that be right? Yeah. So So Jonathan Browning is my like, third great grandfather.
Robert Bryce 38:00
If he was your grand, great grandmother’s grandmother’s brother than he would be a great, great uncle then is that,
B.F. Randall 38:06
something like that? Okay. But I kind of as a child, I grew up with John number I grew up with my grandma. She lived till I was 20, my great grandma. All the stories and I just kind of made impressions on me. But one of the things about the genesis of John Browning that I haven’t really told this story before, but maybe it’s worth I’ll give a short version. Yeah. So John Browning barely, barely made it past sixth grade. He grew up in the 1850s 18. In Ogden when, you know, it was it was frontier, wild west days back then. And he hated school. And he grew. So his father was a gun maker. He had been a prominent gun maker in Illinois. And he opened up a gun shop in Oregon and Oregon was also the place where both the railroads you know, it’s the advent of the rail of, you know, the railroad. Ogden was the epicenter we’re an Ogden station. So the gunshop was very close to Auckland station. The railway station and it saw a lot of business and but it was it was like it was a repair shop like they repaired firearms. And John Browning loved that by the way he did. He grew up with this his father in the gun shop repairing firearms. In his mind, though, he’s a mechanic, right? So somebody brings in a broken firearm, take it apart, find out how it’s supposed to work, find out what’s broken, fix the broken thing, put it back together, it works. So every gun on the planet like they had seen every gun ever and so one day, a trapper brought in a single shot rifle that that shot was one of the very first ones that shot a metallic cartridge. And everybody in the shop including Jonathan Browning, John put the gun was broken, put the gun on the bench, took it apart and With every mechanism they took apart, everyone’s eyes just got bigger and bigger because of the complexity of the design. The more complex, the more expensive, the more liable to break, the more complexity is bad and ended design. So, John Browning took it apart, and everyone’s at the bench. And he looked down. And he said, very flippantly said, well, even though I could build a better gun than that, he was barely like, in his own mind. He’s not he’s not the John Browning, we know he is. He’s a mechanic who barely can write he barely made it past sixth grade. And pappy, his dad says, Well, then why don’t you try? And John paused. And I wonder what happened during that pause? You know, it’s like, what is what happened in his mind, where he kind of gave himself permission to become a gun inventor and not a mechanic? Right. And the first I think what I mean, who knows what happened by speculate what happened is, a new design came in his mind about how he would build it. And then he’s thinking, Okay, well, if I, if I take two or three months off, I won’t have an income. Like, okay, how do I do this? Can I manage it? And he said, Okay, well, then I will like that challenge him. And that’s when he built he designed and built his falling block, single shot rifle that was the beginning of everything for him. And that’s the rifle that ended up in the hands of the vice president of Winchester arms, who got on the train and came all the way to Ogden. And all they can do is the gun said Browning brothers, Ogden, Utah. So he got off the state got off at the station and said, Where’s browning? You know, Oh, over there. That’s the day that he bought the patent for $20,000. Could John just made a flippant number about oh, it’s a great story. But I wonder, you know, I think we don’t, part of it is we don’t have the potential that’s in us. Like, I wonder what John had said, I’ll just because he had a great life, like, I’ll just keep repairing guns, and not
Robert Bryce 42:11
challenged himself. But I love that idea that simple, always works best. And you talk about this several times in the things that you write on your substack. And everywhere else about this and creeping complexity. And that’s one of the things that I see when I look at I live in Austin, Texas. And the nodal protocols for the ERCOT grid are something on the order of 1800 pages, the system has gotten so complex, and now the Texas Legislature is dealing with this, trying to oh, we’re going to add one other things so we can make sure that grid is more reliable. And it’s one other regulation, one other provision that’s on top of all these other complexities around that are rooted in fundamentally the mistaken view that electricity is a commodity, right. And I just wonder whether they can even whether it’s even achievable at this point, whether they can even given how complex the system is whether it can even be fixed. It is that how you I mean, that goes on to your idea around Uber and random Uber that this is we’re creating so much complexity that we’re going to, it’s going to be impossible to fix is that your if you step back and think about it, is that one of your concerns?
B.F. Randall 43:21
My concern is that it just becomes exactly so we’re going to have more and more complexity, more energy poverty, more inflation, and it’s going to be more painful going back to the curtailment idea. So the curtailment is an economic economics of curtailment. So in Ontario, what they did to solve that, and the way they were able the way they were able to switch to nuclear power, is they basically said to the wind industry that guess what, you get curtailed, nuclear power is not being curtailed, it makes no sense to curtail nuclear power, because fuel costs are so low, right? So, no wind gets curtailed. But guess what the ratepayers will have to pay for the curtailment because it’s an integrated system. And so the problem is more is not better and the sooner that we can stop that idiotic route Rube Goldberg approach to electric energy generation that better for everybody. Because if you think about it, so if you’re you’re saying you say you want to build even a combined cycle plant like I want to build a new combined combined cycle plan. Okay. You have to deal with curtailment, right? So you go to your investors and say oh, we the grid needs a new plant well, okay, but what happens when the wind blows or you have to shut down? You get no revenue. And then it has to
Robert Bryce 44:49
be random and the more you’re shut down, the more money you don’t make and
B.F. Randall 44:52
not just that it’s the ramping to the ramping I the thing I’m really concerned about is because I get I get caught Potential communications from system operators and they’re very concerned about the damage that’s being done to the thermal plants because of ramping. Ramping is the knee so when when when the chaotic grid goes down, the thermal generators have to have to put on the horsepower like, it’s no different than your car, right? So imagine, you know, if you can get in your car and drive freeway speed all day, you’re gonna use x gasoline, if you drive your car in the freeway, and you’re constantly slowing down to zero, and accelerating to 80, and slowing down and accelerating, because because what happens is the thermal generators end up being the accordion that has to make up for the chaos. And literally what happens is the thermal because those plants have to cycle so hard, it wrecks it wrecks the plant like the actual equipment gets ruined that far faster than the design life
Robert Bryce 46:08
when you have them but also fewer and fewer hours of operation right that you’re being you’re running less. And if you’re in an energy only art market like in Texas, then you only get paid for the watt hours the commodity, then you’re you’re running less or you’re making less money. I just looked it up Ogden was where the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met at Union Station and and it is also home to the John M Browning Firearms Museum. One of the things I looked up I didn’t realize that Browning was the designer of the THE COLT 1911, which is one of the the model 1911 Colt, which I looked it up is undoubtedly the most copied firearm design ever. And it was not called the 1911 browning. But Browning was working for Colt at the time and they bought the rights to the design. But that’s a great it’s an interesting family history. I was just curious, are you a gun guy? Is that one of the reasons why is that have any significance for you other than that?
B.F. Randall 47:07
That’s not crazy. We got I’ve got I’ve got selected a Levin’s Okay, well, fair enough.
Robert Bryce 47:13
So what is behind? Again, my guest is BF Randall. You can follow him on Twitter at mining underscore Adams on on substack bf randall.substack.com. You know, as you’re talking about these things, and it’s obviously you’re passionate about it, I’ve given a fair amount of thought myself to what drives this ignorance, right? What is what is, yes, there is grift, as you say, right, that’s your word, the grift and the money that is behind this, but there seems to be a broader cultural issue. And it’s around, I would say its lack of the decline in church going traditional religion in America, right, that climate tourism is one of the ways that people find meaning in their lives. And you know, a lot of similarities between traditional Christian belief and sin and the same with climate and energy use. But is it also about the ignorance of the public that the scientific illiteracy and innumeracy of the public? Because that’s the other thing you say, is that we have to, what is your line that we have a lot of work to do, and that that’s around education? But is this lack of scientific and mathematical literacy? Is this part of the problem? Or is that? What do you what how do you attribute the broader ignorance in the general public to these issues?
B.F. Randall 48:29
If I knew that I wouldn’t, I’d have a different career. You know, I have I kind of have a theory about that, because I watched, you know, in the 1990s, when I was when I was in private practice, doing energy work. I watched how this developed and it was really interesting. My My theory is, I mean, I haven’t written about this, but I think it’s, I think it’s actually a valid theory is when, when Facebook came to be, and when eBay came to be even before Google, right, and then Google piled on. But those data centers use so much electrical energy that in this context of climate concern, and climate change, they had that industry had an existential problem, because they had to justify their electrical energy use in a grid that was predominantly fossil fuel and coal. And they ended up having a major problem. And so the way they solved it, is they went back to the Enron concept of renewable energy credits. And they collectively, were able to change state laws and really, fundamentally change how integrated utilities work. And they were able to get wind and solar as their theory about how they’re going to green themselves. It’s the giant greenwash. It’s a perpetual enormous greenwash team. So what they did is As they changed all the state laws, they were very successful because they had so much money. And it was such an important issue that they they and they have been so successful marketing their greenwash team, that I think they have convinced two generations of human beings, that the end all be all the green, clean green, you know, sustainable renewable is wind and solar. Because that’s how the, that is how Google and eBay and, you know, Facebook greenwash their electrical energy use, because now they buy credits, they all work green, we’re clean. Well,
Robert Bryce 50:38
I hadn’t thought of when you say it. Now I’m thinking, Ah, well, I heard now do remember that Google, in fact, was one of the big backers of the shepherd’s flat wind project in Oregon, right that one of the way back when now this is more than a decade ago and the some of the returns in the Obama administration. And some of the returns they were making on it was just unbelievable how lucrative it was. But they were getting tax credits. But they had the other benefit of saying, Oh, well see, we’re big. We’re big wind producer, we’re big wind buyers. They’re doing the same thing in Oklahoma, one of Google’s biggest wind data centers is in Pryor, Oklahoma, I’m from Tulsa. So I know about the you know, Oklahoma, but they’re buying a lot of wind energy from the Grand River Dam authority, so they can make these claims. But so but what I heard you say, Bf is that part of the blame, or you’re putting a significant part of the blame for this, and I will use the word infatuation this this devotion to wind and solar, you’re putting at the feet of big tech.
B.F. Randall 51:35
I, that’s my, that’s, you know, I might be wrong about that. But that’s what I’ve seen, like I saw that happen starting in the 90s. And I scratched my head because it was so differently with the idea of an interloper coming in and putting on out some outside of the grid, tacking on wind, and then getting that wind delivered, you know, fake delivered to my facility that’s on the grid, and then kind of claiming this, you know, this fuzzy math, renewable energy credit that Enron innovated, it’s all it’s all about fake accounting, like it’s not real. And the other one I’ll point to just even recently, like the the, one of the projects that just makes my brain explode is the Travers solar project in Canada, and it’s, it is sited at 52 degrees latitude. It is sited near calgary 1.3 million Chinese solar panels out on the plains, in the blowing wind at 52 degrees latitude with the snow and the wind, at the absurdity of the guests are the biggest, but guess who’s behind that? Google. Google is the buyer of all that fake power, because they’re trying again, it’s just it’s an enormous greenwash team, that it can’t. That’s what I see. It’s just, we are just brainwashed, and they have been so successful. Big Tech has been so successful, like brainwashing themselves, that in the process, they have brainwashed generations of human beings into thinking that that is the end all be all.
Robert Bryce 53:14
Well, I so that’s an interesting point. I’m not, I’m not convinced. I’ll say that. And, but I’m not I’m not saying I’m not convinced. I think it adds some texture to this, that I came across in my fourth book, and I know I’m interviewing you, but I think it’s germane here to what we’re talking about. In my first book power hungry. I cited this essay that was written in the 50s by Cp Snow, who is a British scientist and novelist. And this the essay was called the two cultures and I know you’re a lawyer, you’re not an engineer, but the way you write about some of these things, you You sound in some ways like more engineer and engineer focused or engineering focused person right and forgive you for being a lawyer, but
B.F. Randall 53:56
that’s right, I can I can talk about that, but keep going.
Robert Bryce 53:59
But But But Snow said he said that there are two cultures, the culture of the humanities, and the culture of the sciences and he says literary he said the puts them at two poles the literary intellectuals at one pole at the other scientists between the two a gulf of mutual misc, incomprehension and then he talks about he mentions he goes further and says about the general public’s lack of understanding of energy and thermodynamics as snow put it here I’m quoting him he says, The Good many times I’ve been President gatherings of people who by the standards of traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have considerable gusto. With considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity and the illiteracy of scientists, once or twice I’ve been provoked and have asked the company, how many of them could describe the second law of thermodynamics? The response was cold, it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s but this is now 70 years Go. And he’s talking about these two cultures. And I think that that’s very rhymes with what I see now that there is the engineering culture in our society, right? And this the ones who have to deliver electrons and molecules, and on the other is this NGO cultural climate complex that they don’t have to deliver anything all they have to deliver as policy is that I’m just curious what you you know, I’m throwing that out there. Because I think that’s in some ways, what’s your work on Twitter and on substack is addressing this, these two different cultures? And you’re trying to say, we need to understand this better, but you’re not you’re getting some traction at it. But does that make sense to you this idea of two cultures?
B.F. Randall 55:40
You know, I had never thought about that. And I haven’t read this book. So this is your your said, this isn’t your fourth book.
Robert Bryce 55:46
That’s right. My book power hungry. Yeah, it’s one of the first parts of the book, but it’s to me, it’s just that the I’m gonna read that book. I haven’t read it. No. Well, I
B.F. Randall 55:55
write for a living that I don’t I don’t, I don’t read books very, like I just it’s not
Robert Bryce 56:02
right. And I’m not I’m not bringing up to brag on my book. Well, maybe I am. But I’m just to me, that seems about what are your you know, what you’re one of the things you’re underscoring here is this complete lack of understanding of cultural of scientific literacy among the population, and that you’re trying to address that. And you’re having some success. So as John Lee Paramore, but it seems to me that’s one of the fundamental challenges that we’re facing. Is that not Do you agree with that?
B.F. Randall 56:27
I could not agree more with that. So my undergraduate degree is English literature. So I live, I’ve been in that world, I know that world, I understand that world. If I could do math, I would have been a surgeon, and we wouldn’t know each other. Because I suck at math. But I also love science. My father’s a civil engineer, I just I have that civil engineer kind of personality. And, and I know, I don’t do the math part. But I understand science really well, you know, chemistry, biology, physics, just how things work. And in my career, because I want to set a you know, I didn’t, I’ve done all of these technical fields. What that means is that I work extensively with scientists and engineers, and what I do, and I’m, I’m I, what I do is, I’m pretty much a translator, I have to translate technical fields for a lay audience. And it’s worked out great for me, like I excel at this, I’m really good at understanding technical things, and then explaining it to a lay audience. So I think, honestly, I think that explain going back to the very beginning, right, I think what you just said actually explains why I have had some success on Twitter, because I do excel at that. I understand those two worlds, and I help I help translate.
Robert Bryce 57:58
Well, I think that makes sense. I mean, because you have a and you’re one of the as I said earlier, the start the one of the few guests who who I only know through Twitter that I don’t know, you know, your work otherwise, and that you you have a day job as a lawyer and that you want to keep that separate from your Twitter profile. But you’re not asking for money here, you’re not looking to make a living as being a public intellectual in this field. But instead, you’re motivated, you’re motivated to do it. What is that motivation? You we I think we talked about this offline. But what why do you care so much about this?
B.F. Randall 58:32
i It’s what I said earlier, like, I’m literally an Eagle Scout. So you know, this is this, to me is I do this in my free time. If people care what I think and I can just do it in my free time, then then great if I can be more efficient and getting reaching more people. That’s why I spent so much time on on the substack library that I have. I also feel like I’ve kind of I’m kind of at the end of things that I can contribute to that. Like I put up a whole bunch of things. And I’m also devoting a lot more time to other things. So I’ve kind of scaled back my Twitter, use or my Twitter, you no buy time on Twitter, my substack writing, but I can’t help myself, I still get on Twitter. And I’m compelled because we are in such a trajectory where I see energy policy going is so abysmal. I am very concerned about my children, my grandchildren. I’m concerned about the fact that you know, India, the dung market, the cow dung market as fuel is valued at $4 billion a year in India. India would have to increase its energy consumption by four times to even meet the standard of living of China. So the amount of energy poverty in the world is astronomical and yet, if we if as If developed nations could systematically deploy nuclear power, we would have a renaissance it would be especially when we get to Gen four and I talked about this in the in the decouple. So what, what motivates me is educating people about where we are, but also where we should be and where we could be. Because when you get into non light water reactors, and you get up to like the nature in reactor that’s planned for camera, Wyoming, or three of my grandchildren live 30 minutes away from Kemer like this, this is personal to me. So, that reactor gets to 500 C operating temperature 500 C like to boil it, why are we boiling water with 500 C 500. C has so many uses that are more valuable than boiling water to make electrical energy or process heat. So again, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the surface of what we can get out of nuclear power industrially process heat wise, II fuels. There are so many things we can do with non lightwater reactors. And again, this is why the entrenched powers are so I think behind the scenes very much opposed to this. And that’s why we that’s why we’re stuck. And enough people need to understand that the sea the vision of nuclear power, and and this isn’t just theoretical science, this is not fusion, you know, the only thing the only the only thing fusion generates is public finance, public funding.
Robert Bryce 1:01:45
Well, I like what you said there, though, about and you are something of a nuclear absolutist, then is that, would that be a fair way to describe you?
B.F. Randall 1:01:54
Absolutely. 100%? Well, okay, no, I’m also not I am, I am not opposed to fossil fuels. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that nuclear power makes so much heat it, it’s thermal energy. So we need to use that thermal energy in as many applications as possible. But there are things that that fossil fuel there are capabilities that fossil fuels have that I don’t see even in in the long term horizon being able to replace them, but we’re wasting them but we’re wasting coal to make steam like it make it actually coal is fixed carbon coal has so much more value as a fixed carbon resource. Why are we burning it to make steam nuclear power does that 100% Every steam boiler on the planet could be nuclear power, but then when you get into non let water reactors and you’re talking about 500 C to 1000 C operating temperatures, and then the safety case for non light water reactors is significant. As good as light water reactors are don’t get me wrong, Light Water Reactors are great. But the safety case for non light water reactors is so much better even the fuel cycles for lung lightwater record is so much better but we’ve been held back by entrenched interests Yeah,
Robert Bryce 1:03:16
I will look I’m adamantly pro nuclear have been for a very long time I but I like the way you talk about it. I agree. I think you know, their diesel fuel we’re gonna be using diesel fuel for a very, very long time to come. So just the last few questions of BF who’s worked on these issues? Do you like you mentioned you read a lot and I obviously hope he read my book on power power hungry because I’ve the lines there from CP snow. Shameless plug there, but whose work do you follow? on Twitter or on other places? What do you read and like?
B.F. Randall 1:03:49
So I think narrative and one her book about just sort of Herod I think that’s a remarkable that is worthy of widespread reading, like every politician who votes on energy policy issues needs to read her book, because let’s happen in she describes this very well. But with with the way that the way the electrical grids have been restructured, nobody’s in charge anymore. And so you end up with this very chaotic situation. That is not it is it we should all be very concerned about the policymaking behind electrical energy in the grid. And like we were what you were talking about, like ERCOT, and the 4700 pages of
Robert Bryce 1:04:40
B.F. Randall 1:04:43
is like that is a function of coping with integration problems, and it will just get worse, like the trajectory adding more and more and more chaos. It just makes compounds the problems we have, right and so intel we can and figure out how to get more stable. You know? So merriness book, I think is is very important. I think your work is very good like I, the podcasts I have seen that you put together are very good. I support your work. Martine Mills, I think, is actually the one I would credit with getting me. Mark P. Mills had that podcast called The Last optimist where he talks about metals and talks about mining and kind of the lunacy of what’s going on. Mark, I listened to that, and that podcast is what actually started me. That’s why I wrote the copper thread was Mark P. Mills actually got me thinking and, and, you know, a few days later, that’s when I started so. And Mark P Mills has a wonderful article on lifecycle assessments for evey battery on I published that a lot the the one that highlights the fact that you know, the peer reviewed. Evie, just think about one simple thing, you know, the evey battery? What is the embedded carbon in the EB battery? Like? That should be a simple question, right? Well, the published life less like lifecycle assessments differ from each other by 600%. So that’s junk science. Like if we tried to if if somebody had the burden of proof to show what is the embedded carbon in an EB battery, that person is going to lose a court case, because you will never get a you will never get expert testimony. When the Experts disagree by that much, then then it’s junk science. There’s no science behind it. And you know, the lifecycle assessments are just absurd. And so Mark P Mills has is highlighting that I think there needs to be more of that kind of work. The decouple podcasts, I think I’ve have a great deal of respect for Dr. Kiefer and what he’s done. Again, he’s not making money, he’s a full time practicing doctor. He, he, he inspires me, we’ve had contact, I might, I might go back on his podcasts maybe in March.
Robert Bryce 1:07:18
So last two things. I mean, you may be already interested or answered this, but I asked these questions. So what are you reading? You mentioned Meredith’s book, which I’m big fan of Meredith is as well. And she’s been on the podcast five times. Her book, shorting the grid, what else are you reading?
B.F. Randall 1:07:33
You know, I don’t I tried to read, I’m a collective. So you know, I’m, I’m an English major. So I kind of I also do other things. So it kind of read, you know, it would be off topic for energy policy. But I like the 1491 1492 books about about mess of America before contact and post contact. And globalization because that the 1493 book is kind of puts globalization in context. And we’re still seeing that today. We’re seeing that with what’s happening in our world. And the trajectory of globalization is fascinating. If you haven’t read those two books, I highly recommend recommend them. And they just kind of just other literature I read, I mean, some Hemingway and
Robert Bryce 1:08:19
no problem. I do.
B.F. Randall 1:08:20
I have my own little book that I’ve done about Anglo Saxon poetry of all things. So
Robert Bryce 1:08:27
those are that’s a good list, no problem. So finally, then what gives you hope?
B.F. Randall 1:08:33
So look at my article that says 3500 is more than 600. That’s what gives me hope. So in 2020, the world consumed 600 Extra joules of energy total, like the whole world consumption 600 Extra joules. In that same year, humans mined enough uranium, like a $30, a pound market price, three and a half 1000 Extra joules, if we if we were able to put that same uranium in fast nuclear and non light water reactors and get all the energy out of it. Because lightwater reactors only consume about 5% of the energy in uranium. And people talk about well nuclear waste. Well, no, it’s it’s used fuel that is going to go into a new fuel cycle. So stop thinking about it that way. It’s a resource. But we mined enough uranium at $30 a pound to make three and a half 1000 Extra joules of thermal energy
Robert Bryce 1:09:40
or 6x. What are overall primary energy,
B.F. Randall 1:09:43
your thermal energy that we consumed at a mean uranium is so abundant and you know, fission produces six orders of magnitude more energy than combustion. So why is my handle mine? atoms? Well, it goes, it’s simple. Like, why are we mining atoms when we can be splitting them? splitting atoms is so much more efficient than mining them. We’re doing it wrong. Like mining will be with us forever. I, it’s inevitable. So let’s not let’s not, why are we doing it the way we’re doing it? Like, we don’t have to six orders of magnitude, log scales, six orders of magnitude. That’s what gives us hope. And that’s why we need to be focusing on nuclear power. Only like that, because we want it we want to have the benefit of the savings of all the other crap we don’t want. We don’t want that. We want the savings. We want to put all the investment into nuclear power alone, because that’s all we need.
Robert Bryce 1:10:50
Well, I think that’s a good place to stop and a fairly stirring homily there. If I can, I don’t mean to. But no, I think you said that. I love that line. Why are we mining atoms when we could be splitting them? I think that’s a great line. I like that quite a lot. So my guest is has been BF Randall. He’s on Twitter at mining underscore Adams and he’s on substack bf randall.substack.com BF. It’s been a pleasure to connect. We chatted a little bit on the phone before but really happy to have you on the power hungry podcast. Thanks for coming on.
B.F. Randall 1:11:24
Thanks for the invitation. And thanks
Robert Bryce 1:11:27
to all you out there in podcast land for tuning into this episode of the power hungry podcast if you’re so inclined, give us a five star six Star 24 Star rating on your favorite podcast channel. And be sure to tune in to the next episode of the power hungry podcast. It might be as good as this one. Until then,
Unknown Speaker 1:11:44
see you. Later