Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, where he writes about environmental issues, mining, and electricity. In his second appearance on the podcast (his first was on August 10, 2021), Orr talks about the importance of the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling, why utilities are keeping their coal plants open this summer, how renewables are undermining the integrity of the electric grid, and the looming shortfalls of generation capacity in the Midwest.
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, everyone, welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. This podcast we’re talking about energy, power, innovation and politics. And I’m pleased to welcome back for the second visit to the power hungry podcast, my friend Isaac or Isaac, welcome to the power hungry podcast.
Isaac Orr 0:19
Hey, Robert, thanks for having me back. Appreciate it.
Robert Bryce 0:21
Always happy to talk to you. I mentioned I should have mentioned Isaac as a policy fellow at the center of the American experiment. You were on the podcast in August of last year of 2021. So listeners might be familiar with you. But you know, the rule here interviewees introduce themselves. So you’re on the hot seat, you have 45 or 60 seconds to introduce yourself? Go?
Isaac Orr 0:42
Yeah, absolutely. My name is Isaac Orr, I work at center of the American experiment as a policy fellow. Basically, what I do is I have done a lot of energy modeling with my colleague Mitch rolling about the cost of different energy systems. So we basically evaluate integrated resource plans from other states, even, we’ve had a lot of interest in our modeling from groups throughout the country. So we’ve had a really busy year. And it’s been really exciting. And, you know, the main thrust behind why I do this is I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I grew up in the same house my grandpa was born in, and during the, you know, the summer, I’d get done doing chores, it’d be really hot. And the cows would be drinking so much water that we didn’t have any water inside the house. So when I was in my freshman geology class, and we’re looking at freshman college, right, we’re looking at water pressure, and you know, height inside the well. I’m like, Man, this is really relevant. So that’s really what kind of got me interested in geology. And obviously, there’s a huge political component of the decisions that we make regarding geology, siting of landfills, and, you know, obviously, mining oil and gas production. So it just kind of fused two of my interests, which was, you know, political science, which was my major, and then I went, got a minor in geology after that. So here I am, I’ve just kind of taken me or gone where, where I’ve been able to, you know, find a niche for myself. And now I’m on the power hungry podcast.
Unknown Speaker 2:11
And it’s all downhill from here as this low light of the career.
Isaac Orr 2:17
I wanted to get it out of the way early.
Robert Bryce 2:22
So let’s talk you write about mining, yes. You write about geology, and not so much about geology, but particularly mining in the United States, Minnesota is a big mining state. But the You also wrote recently, and this is one of the most consequential decisions out of the Supreme Court in some time, the West Virginia versus EPA case. You wrote about that recently, on the American experiment website. I there’s been a lot of commentary about it. I haven’t really written much about it. Tell us why that why that decision was so important, and what effect it is likely to have on coal fired generators in the United States.
Isaac Orr 3:00
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve read a lot on this, too, it seems like everything I read, everyone seems to have a slightly different take on the significance of this. So obviously, whatever I say, make sure that you’re, you know, reading other people what they’re saying in order to get a better understanding of it. But for me, the main takeaway was that the Supreme Court said that the the Clean Power Plan, which the Obama put in place in 2015, relied on a system of fuel switching, essentially, they were saying, you could meet compliance with our regulation by either running your coal plants less frequently, or shutting them down, and building wind and solar in order to reduce the system wide emissions of co2. And the Supreme Court essentially ruled that that exceeded the courts authority, and even the the left wing
Robert Bryce 3:50
exceeded the agency’s authority and
Isaac Orr 3:51
authority. Yes, EPA stepped outside of their authority, they essentially created a new authority that they were never delegated by Congress. And that’s the other big thing with this. And even like the Jesse Jenkins, folks said that this was a flimsy rationale. They were all for using it at the time, right. But in hindsight, they’re like, oh, yeah, well, maybe that wasn’t, you know, explicitly in 111. D, right, which is the the Section of the Clean Air Act that we’re looking at. But the other major thing was the Supreme Court kind of formalized this major questions doctrine, which is a new way of thinking about the way that you know, Congress and administrative agencies work together. So the major questions doctrine basically says if there is an issue of significant political or economic significance, then there needs to be a clear expression from Congress to the agency that they have the right to do this. And they basically said, you can’t totally reorient the electricity sector in order to reduce emissions and shut down all these coal plants. just by trying to say that you have broad statutory or statutory authority to regulate this under 111 D. So that’s pretty significant because that means that the Clean Power Plan is, you know, not an effect. It wasn’t an effect anyway, because it was stayed by the Supreme Court. But any future regulation will not be able to rely on the sort of, you know, switching of fuels for for co2 compliance, which means that these coal plants are going to have a lot better chance of continuing to operate into the future without the threat of a new clean power plan coming down the pipe.
Robert Bryce 5:39
Right. And that’s really important now, I think, isn’t it because of what we’re seeing in PJM, and miso, where they’re both warning? Well, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has, you know, in May, issued a warning for all of the Midwest saying the potential of blackouts is very high. But talk about what we’ve also seen, you’re a native of Wisconsin, you live in Minnesota, but we didn’t weren’t there several coal fired power plants in Wisconsin that were slated for shut down that now we’re going to run this summer? I mean, yeah, to me, the timing of the West Virginia versus EPA ruling is important, not just because it comes to the Supreme Court, but it’s happening at a time when we’re facing capacity shortfalls across the Midwest and in the West. And right, and risks and blackouts, where it’s clear, we need these existing coal plants to stay on. So I just wanted to preface that to what’s the latest on these coal plants? And how many megawatts? Do you know what the capacity that’s going to be? Gonna be kept online?
Isaac Orr 6:34
Yeah, it’s pretty significant. I’d have to look specifically, but I think we’re looking at upwards of 1000 megawatts at least. So these these coal plants that were slated to shut down, there’s one I used to drive past on my way down to Madison, when I was struck, when I lived down there, I’d go visit my folks and drive past the Columbia plant. So you know, these are significant generating resources. I did write about this, but I don’t have it in front of me. But the great thing about the West Virginia versus EPA case is it’s going to give utilities confidence to keep these plants open for the foreseeable future. Right. So under the Clean Power Plan, and you know, we can get into this maybe now or later, there’s really a Baptist and bootleggers dynamic between green groups, liberal politicians, and the utilities. Because, you know, the the way that utilities make money is not by having a low cost asset and selling their their product for a markup, right. So that’s just not how it works. They’re monopoly utilities, especially in the Midwest, like Minnesota, or Wisconsin. So all of their money is their profit is determined by something called the cost of service formula. So, you know, this blew my mind when I heard about it for the first time, but utilities don’t make money unless they spend money on new capital expenditures that are approved by a regulatory commission. So every year the amount of money that they make declines. I know, you know, this, Robert, but I feel like it’s important context. Absolutely. So every year, that amount of profit that the utility makes declines every single year as an asset depreciates. So these utility companies kind of loved the idea of the Clean Power Plan, because it would force them to shut down old mostly depreciated coal assets that were providing low cost, reliable power for you and I, the, you know, the families and businesses that rely on it. And they got to build not only natural gas backup, but they got to build wind turbines and solar panels on top of it. So in many cases, you’re looking at a 3x capacity replacement, you’re gonna build three times as much wind, solar and natural gas capacity, as you are replacing with coal, which is why you see utility shares skyrocketing, like when you look at the profits for Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, all of these companies that say, Oh, well, we’re going green, like they’re really just finding a way to green plate the grid, much the same way that we talked about utility gold plating in the in the 70s. So it’s a new way of price gouging that isn’t technically, you know, price gouging. But for all intents and purposes, they’re finding a way to kind of game the system in order to increase costs for customers, while simultaneously reducing the reliability of the grid.
Robert Bryce 9:26
You put that very well, and I saw one of the graphics you had done on Excel. I was just trying to pull it up, as you were talking about showing how, as they retired, was it as they retired coal or as they added renewables, their their profits went way up. Right. So not only are they able to make more because of the the new spending, they’re also using those tax credits. It’s both of those issues. Right, that makes it more profitable.
Isaac Orr 9:49
Yep. So the tax credits are important because when Excel goes to the Public Utilities Commission and says, Well, you know, we need to build these wind turbines because they’re the most affordable source of electricity. See, they’re using the the tax credits to justify the capital expenditure on the back end. So like, it’s all about how they shift money around and justify this to the Utilities Commission. And the Minnesota Utilities Commission basically wants them to do it anyway. So it’s, you know, kind of a wink and a nod like, oh, okay, great. Like, you’re, you’re gonna build this wind. And it’s just like, we get stuck with the bill.
Robert Bryce 10:24
So you’ve said that it’s convenient for them? Because they can say, oh, climate change, therefore, we need to do this. Yeah. But the reality is that by doing it, they’re making more money, and they’re able to wrap themselves in this green green cloak, right. And
Isaac Orr 10:39
that’s why the Clean Power Plan was so devastating, because it gave these utility companies who already have a perverse incentive to shut down reliable affordable depreciated assets, and additional mechanism for doing so these utility companies around the country, we’re able to go to their respective regulatory body and say, Well, you know, the federal government’s making us do this. And then the utility body would say, Well, I guess if this is coming down from Washington, we have to approve this expenditure. Now we have a situation where the the regulator and whoever appoints the regulator is responsible for the cost increases in the declines in reliability. So there’s more accountability this way. And, you know, states were always delegated the power to, you know, manage their own electricity systems. And this, you know, the clean
Robert Bryce 11:28
power under under the under the under the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, right. This has been part of the federal, the federal system, right that the government, the federal government oversees it, but it’s the states that implement those rules, as they see fit within their states. Is that right?
Isaac Orr 11:43
Well, it’s the Federal Power Act for the resource planning aspect of it a lot of times like, so states can take, they have state implementation plans. So states can take whatever EPA says and integrate that into their own environmental regulatory agencies. So there is like a lot of collaboration between state regulatory agencies and EPA, but you know, the Federal Power access states have the primary responsibility for determining the resource plans. And this Clean Power Plan was at attempt to supersede that without actually repealing that provision of the Federal Power Act.
Robert Bryce 12:19
I gotcha. I did find the document that you wrote this piece, right. It was it was it’s on the American experiment, website, American American experiment.org. You wrote this on June 30. And you have this great graph showing XL profits versus renewable percentage level in Minnesota. So that between so what is it 2012? I mean, just a decade ago, and 2018, and a six year period, their profits went up by what over $200 million a year, more than that close to 300 or $400 million a year, and there’s a massive increase in the profits for the big utilities. So I take it from you know, your work on Excel, and that you’re not a big fan of the investor owned utilities. Is this just experiment experience? What What, why? Why have you been such a staunch critic?
Isaac Orr 13:04
Well, you’re right. I’m not a big fan, because I do think that they are, you know, taking advantage. A lot of people just like the idea of wind and solar. We’ve talked about this several times, like, there’s this idea that you’re gonna get something for free. There’s this idea that you’re harmonizing with nature. So basically, like the reason I don’t like the investor owned utility is because it’s a monopoly, right? Like, I don’t have a choice to go to another provider. If I think that Excel is doing a lousy job, or they’re charging me too much money, I’m forced to pay that no matter what. And I don’t think there’s a good mechanism for retail electric choice, I just, you know, I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult to do that. So we’re kind of stuck with this investor owned utility for the time being. But I think that there are important reforms that need to be made in order to better align the incentives of the utility company with the ultimate end cut or end consumer. And one of the ways that I want to do that is I think that so every power plant has an accredited capacity for reliability, right? So if you have a regional transmission organization like myself, they say, Well, we think that, you know, a coal plant is going to be available to produce electricity on peak demand, like 90% of the time, and it’s a similar rating for natural gas and nuclear. But for wind, they only think it’s going to be there 15% of the time. And for solar, they say it’s 50, but it’ll probably go down to 30. As more solar comes onto the system, I really only think that it’s I really think that Excel or any other investor owned utility should only get to recover 15% of the cost of that asset, a wind turbine, right, and put that in its rate base and make a profit on that. If they want to build a wind turbine. You know, that’s fine. The shareholders should be on the hook for that though, right? Because right now, the shareholders are basically good Getting a free ride on, you know, low income families. Right. And I think that that’s absolutely wrong. So basically customers should get what they pay for, or conversely, they should only pay for what they get in terms of reliability from any assets.
Robert Bryce 15:17
Well, let’s talk about reliability than permanent. Because this is the big issue in the Midwest. And what is the reliability trend of I know you’ve been following miso and PJM. And, and that what what’s going on in those markets now?
Isaac Orr 15:31
Yeah. So basically, the way that the you know, the capacity is shaping up we have a 1.2 gigawatts shortfall. This year, we’re projected to have a 2.6 gigawatt shortfall. This is myself. I don’t have the exact numbers for PJM in front of me. But that’s expected to go to a 10.9 gigawatt shortfall by 2020 27, based on current retirements for mostly existing coal and nuclear power plants. So repeat
Robert Bryce 16:03
that. So you’re saying in five years, my so could be short. 10 gigawatts, 10,010.9 gigawatts,
Isaac Orr 16:08
and I didn’t even think of it as five years. I still think it’s 2020. I guess I thought it was a little further off. But yeah, within five years, we could be looking at 10.9 gigawatts.
Robert Bryce 16:20
And mostly, this is going to be retirement of coal plants.
Isaac Orr 16:23
Yes. Well, so why? Damn. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 16:28
Well, why isn’t this getting more attention? I mean, I keep looking at this. And I’ve been, as you know, I’ve studied the electric markets and the grids. And yet, I guess these numbers have been out there. But this is an enormous amount of of generation capacity. And yet, we’re just seems like we’re hurtling headlong into this disaster of reliability and affordability. And it’s not getting any kind of attention. Instead, it’s, oh, well, of course, we want to retire these coal plants. And of course, we want to build more wind and solar, what the hell’s going on? Why aren’t more people paying attention to this?
Isaac Orr 16:59
Well, I mean, it’s, in some ways, you can write it off as rational ignorance, right? Like they’ve had the electricity Come on, every time they’ve hit the switch for the last 40 years. So why would they worry about like tomorrow? The light not coming on? Right? So in some
Robert Bryce 17:17
ways, there’s assumption, an assumption of reliability. It’s, it’s the milk comes from
Isaac Orr 17:21
the store philosophy, right? It’s basically people have lost, you know, and maybe people never really quite understood where electricity comes from, because it’s not really an intuitive thing. But at least they understood that it was a privilege that they were grateful for, rather than some sort of commodity that always just kind of shows up when they need it. So, you know, I think that there’s going to need to be some re acquaintance with scarcity in order for people to kind of reevaluate what’s going on. And like cost is important, right? Especially for low income families, like the one I grew up in, like, those are the people who are starting to wake up to the cost implications of this. So that’s why one of the things we’ve done at American experiment, we’ve started advertising about excels 21% rate hike over three years, in communities that speak primarily Spanish and Somali. We’ve also reached out to the African American community in Minnesota. And we’ve also talked about this in rural Minnesota because rural Minnesota has the highest energy burden of any, you know, part of the state because, you know, you drive further, you have, you know, generally less access to natural gas for home heating and natural gas is the most affordable way to heat your home. So we have a lot of propane or fuel oil or electricity out in the rural areas. So like these decisions have monumental consequences. And, you know, unfortunately, what happens is we have a lot of green groups and I’ve been like kind of formulating this idea for a piece about green group blackouts. So the green groups say we need to shut down these coal plants as quickly as possible, but then they also fight any attempt to put a new natural gas plant in so you know, if we want to like dig into the Star Tribune piece a little bit. So we have a 1.2 gigawatt shortfall in miso right now. And next year. Xcel Energy is scheduled to shut down 680 megawatts of a coal plant in Sherburne County. Originally, Excel was going to replace these coal plants these two units with an 800 megawatt combined cycle natural gas plant, but subsequent pressure from you know, the, you know, the Energy Foundation funded groups, the McKnight Foundation funded groups have basically made Excel say, Okay, we’re not going to build this 800 megawatt gas plant. We’re going to have 800 megawatts of firm peaking resources somewhere by 2030. Right. So and they’re doing the same thing in other air Arias to so these these groups who are all you know basically wind and solar advocacy groups are pressuring you know public utilities Commission’s throughout the country not to approve the reliable gas capacity needed to replace the coal plants that are being shut down. And you can make a really good argument that the coal plant is way more reliable than the just in time gas plant as you know Texas and SPD have seen so you know we are really undermining the reliability of the grid. And there’s another aspect of this I don’t know if we spoke about this last year. But during winter storm Yuri, there was a huge run up in natural gas prices in Minnesota for home heating, because we have used or converted so many coal plants over to natural gas or shut the coal plant down and replaced it with a new natural gas plant. This is going to have you know, you can’t just have kind of an isolated change in the energy industry. Everything affects everything else. So. So yeah, we’re basically making sure that we have a high demand for natural gas through the future, that’s going to increase the cost of electricity, it’s going to increase the cost of home heating. And you know, you’ve already done a really good job of talking about all of the, you know, the other products that are dependent on natural gas like fertilizer, and food costs. So you know, we have let’s,
Robert Bryce 21:25
let’s come back to that. But I like what you’re saying here about the I mean, one of the things that to me is, I mean, you know, so much of the journalism, so much of the writing that was done in the wake of winter storm Europe, particularly in Texas was oh, blame those natural gas guys, you know, natural gas didn’t show it. We, you know, as you know, the shorthand was, well, it got really cold. We didn’t have enough natural gas. Okay, well, fine. But there’s never and I do mean never a mention of the fact that there were 6000 megawatts of coal fired capacity that were retired in the 50 months before the blackouts. So you put it you give away or you shut her for you know, six gigawatts of coal, all that has to be backfield with gas. And now, you know, when one of the things that we haven’t discussed is the whole Clean Power Plan under the Obama administration was made possible by low cost natural gas and the assumption that we were going to have low cost natural gas forever. Well, that’s not the case now. And we let’s come back to what’s going on in Europe in just a minute. But your piece you referenced it was in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in on July 1, and you said that, that your lead is that rolling blackouts may hit Minnesota this summer, because electric companies have closed down to many reliable power plants think coal, nuclear natural gas, and are replacing them with weather dependent renewables. So what but is there? Is there a realization I know you’ve been working on it, letting people know what’s going on. But this is also this reliability. This reduction in reliability is happening at the same time XL is seeking a bigger rate hike, which rhymes exactly with what’s happening in California?
Isaac Orr 22:55
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And the cool thing about this piece is i co wrote it with John knower, who was a former executive at Northern States Power Company, which became Xcel Energy, I think, in the early 2000s. So this is a former head of generation for the thermal plants and hydroelectric, the only thing that wasn’t under his purview was the nuclear plants in Minnesota. So, you know, we’re definitely trying to raise this alarm. But right now, what’s happened is there is there’s definitely a free rider problem that is, you know, inherent to all RTOS is Meredith Anglin has done a really good job of discussing. But right now the policies in Illinois are causing them to close down their firm capacity. So we still have a surplus and Minnesota of firm capacity that’s scheduled to change thanks to excel. And, you know, we can talk about the rate hikes and all of that. So but Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa still have a surplus of firm capacity in order to meet their peak obligations. But there are Indiana, Missouri in Illinois that don’t have enough firm capacity. So they’ve been relying on misos capacity market. Because, you know, for the last five years, the the cost of capacity in misos capacity market, it’s been about $5 per megawatt per day, and this year, it went up to 235 megawatt or dollars per megawatt per day. So, like there was essentially no incentive to keep the firm capacity in your system online, when you could just kind of by your capacity and the energy market. You know, there’s a problem that we give wind and solar a sorry, capacity market, but there’s a problem that we give wind and solar, any accredited capacity. I think that that’s a mistake. That’s one of the reasons why misos you know, bidding for capacity is so low, but, you know, there’s this inherent problem that everybody is acting like California and Excel is doing this to they want to shut down their coal plants and they want to buy, you know, energy imports from the market. when they need it that was in their integrated resource plan, Miss rolling and I did a you know, I think we did 110 pages of comments on excels integrated resource plan, we said you guys are doing the same thing as California and hoping for better results. And that’s just entirely irresponsible. So yeah, I mean, let
Robert Bryce 25:18
me interrupt for a second because I think it’s important what you said there about the imports, which is we, you know, I’m a big fan of Meredith, sanguine as you are. And I probably sold more copies of shorting the grid than I’ve sold of my own book, which is fine. I have great admiration for her work. But I want to repeat one of the things that she said here, which is really germane, which is the fatal Trifecta should what’s the fatal trifecta for electric grid over the planet dependence on renewables over dependence on gas just in time gas, and over dependence on imports. So what you’re what you’re repeating here to me is I’m hearing you say this is there we go, the fatal trifecta. And absolutely, and that and the decline in reliability is happening at the same time, we have declining affordability. So these are all going coming together. And we’re facing a summer of potential blackouts. I mean, it’s been hotter than heck here and in Austin. But is the weather been has been fairly cool so far, or what? What’s going to happen if you have a big heatwave? So I
Isaac Orr 26:17
think that we’re going to I was, I’ve been talking to some of my friends in the utility industry in Minnesota. And, you know, they seem to think that rolling blackouts would take kind of an extraordinary circumstance this year, and probably next year, because you know, the capacity shortfall that we’re talking about 1.2 gigawatts or 2.6 gigawatts for this year, next year, respectively, that’s from the planning reserve margin. So that’s not a shortfall from the anticipated peak, it’s when we don’t have enough to meet our planning reserve margin dropped. But if we have, you know, a lot of unanticipated outages, which is always possible. And if we don’t have enough non firm imports from PJM, in miso, and we have a low wind day, we could be looking at a situation where, you know, there may be some some load shedding or the more realistic thing is, you know, my CIO has a, they, they include their load modifying resources in their their capacity stack, so to speak. So they think that they can turn the power off to certain customers, or turn the power down to certain customers in order to maintain grid reliability and not have to, you know, initiate a larger load shed. And in many in Minnesota, a lot of times, that means our iron ore industry is told to curtail production. So Minnesota is the largest producer of iron ore in the United States. We’re responsible for anywhere between 80 and 90% of us iron ore production based on, you know, prices and years and what’s happening in Upper Michigan, but they consume 600 megawatts of capacity. So I mean, there’s one one mind the Mintek mine, that is, I think, 300 all by itself, so that one facility consumes more electricity than the City of Minneapolis, which is a town Yeah, it’s like 400,000 people in Minneapolis. So it’s not a huge city, but it’s our biggest city. So what happens is when we have just a such a, you know, fundamentally broken way of resource planning in in the Midwest, these assets become like the environmental groups see these not as our load modifying resources or brownouts to certain customers, they don’t see that as a bad thing. They see that as a tool in their toolbox in order to, you know, spin forward their their green new deals into the future. So, my friend put it really well. He said, you can either have flexible generation in order to meet, you know, your electricity demand, or you need flexible demand, if you have inflexible generation, right. So as we become more reliant on wind and solar, we’re not going to have flexible generation, or that is a less flexible grid, because we’re basically dependent on the whims of the weather. So demand has to become more flexible. So they talk about demand response and load modifying resources, like turning down people’s air conditioner, or turning down people’s heat in the in the wintertime. That’s the thing. So yeah, we’re seeing declines in service. We’re seeing declines in reliability and we’re seeing increases in cost.
Robert Bryce 29:34
You know, there was some time ago now that Austin Energy I live in Austin, as you know, came to me and said, hey, we’ll give you this thermostat, and it’ll allow the utility to reduce load and I’m thinking well wait a minute. Do I get to say no, and there was no implication of I can say, Well, no, you can’t turn my air conditioner down or anything else it was, well, you’re gonna help us out and I’m waiting for the end we will give you something in return for This, and I’m thinking, Well, wait a minute, no, I work at home and it gets hot in the summer, I don’t want you turning off my air conditioner. I’m not going to be comfortable here. But so of course, I didn’t do it. But it was one of these assumptions of a will, of course, you’re going to be satisfied with less reliable service and or, or US turning off your stuff without your approval. And I’ve thought, Well, no, this is not what I want. This doesn’t make sense to me as a user, if you you sweeten the deal, it might be possible. Well, so in terms of Minnesota politics, because you’ve lived there for a long time, and you’ve seen this. So, which are the groups that are most powerful in pushing this agenda? And you get a name? The names? I know, you mentioned some of them before, but who are these groups? And where did they get their money?
Isaac Orr 30:41
Sure, those are those are great questions. So you’ve got a group called fresh energy, you’ve got a group called the Minnesota Center for Environmental advocacy, the Minnesota citizens Utility Board, mn 350. And you’ve got a handful of other ones. But those are the major players and they get their money from the Energy Foundation out in California, there’s a group called the McKnight Foundation, which is basically three M, you know, heiresses, like three or four generations removed from the actual productive people who built the company, who are now just doling out something along the order of 10 to $15 million a year on these issues alone. Right. So unclear on climate related. Yeah, yep. Yep. So that accounts for most of their budgets, actually. So these are really astroturf organizations, they don’t have much in terms of grassroots funding. So because like our organization, American experiment has become a much more grassroots organization, I think is something like 25% of our revenue comes from people that gave us $1,000 or less, which is kind of a big amount for a nonprofit, because a lot of times, you’ve got like, a few individuals who are the cornerstones of your revenue, which is normal, right. But it was funny, the governor had a couple of online polls, and it was like, Oh, do you think that this climate action goes too far doesn’t go far enough, or is about right, and we sent out a couple emails, and we were able to completely dominate that. So our mailing list, so one of them was decrease, greenhouse gases, gases from the transport or the transportation sector, and we were able to get it to be like, 72% goes too far. And that was with us sending a couple emails to our own audience list of about 40,000. So, you know, just us being able to, you know, one organization with a revenue that’s smaller than most of each of these individual groups, being able to affect these, like online polls, which are incredibly unscientific. But you know, that if it had gone the other way, if everything had said gone too far, or doesn’t go far enough, the administration would have said, well see, it’s the will of the people, we need to enact these policies that we wanted to enact anyway, like, California Car mandates or low carbon fuel standard. So So yeah, these these groups are well funded. And they’re, you know, well staffed, frankly, each of these places has like 20 to 30 people, which kind of blows my mind. But when it comes to do they represent anybody’s actual feelings. Not, not a lot of people are actually that involved with them. So you know,
Robert Bryce 33:32
it’s not a broad base, not a broad based group. I know when I was up in Minnesota, and we were on we shared the stage at an event in Minneapolis about my new report that I did not in our backyard, but John Hinderaker meander, who’s the head of the Center made a big point about that, that you have a tremendous number of small donors, and that that gives you more is the right word, credibility, more, more, reach more more people that you can touch and say, Hey, this matters to you. Well, yeah, email,
Isaac Orr 34:02
I think it’s just more legitimacy, right? Like the if you have like a big group where people like that, like, you know, we’ve we’ve, you know, we’d like to say that we’re helping to voice or give voice to the opinions of people who support us, right. So obviously, we must be doing something right. Because, you know, our own audience list is growing all the time. We’re raising more revenue all the time. So really, we just want to be an organization that helps the grassroots communicate to the people who otherwise might not feel that they need to pay attention to them and just say, Hey, you guys got to listen up.
Robert Bryce 34:36
Yeah. Let’s talk about mining here for a minute because we know that you you mentioned iron ore production in in Minnesota and I’m just looking for this recent press release. Here it is. This is the Oh no, that’s a different press release. Sorry. It’s a the American energy security or Energy Independence Act. It was introduced by Bernie enters in the Senate. And it has a remarkable number of supporters that are saying, Oh, we’re going to go 100% renewables and it’s just this. Yeah, here it is. It’s called it was introduced in April. It’s called the energy security and Independence Act. It has dozens of sponsors in the House and in the Senate, Cory Booker from New Jersey, Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, Alex Budhia, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Murphy, and it has all this information about to achieve energy security and independence. The ESA will and then it goes through that, but the goal is 100% renewable energy in America. And there’s no mention of mining here. Not one mention of mining. What? What would such let me ask you the question, because you’ve thought about these issues. even attempting to get to a high penetration of renewables, what is it? What would that require in terms of mining in general? And can the US produce the kind of volume of commodities needed to approach what’s needed for these these scenarios?
Isaac Orr 36:02
Yeah, absolutely. So Mitch, and I looked into this, just for the amount of mining that you would need for Minnesota, and I think to completely green New Deal your economy. So electricity and transportation, you would need to have 157% of global cobalt output for a year, right? So that the Congo and China are basically the two main players in the cobalt market, Chinese firms purchase the cobalt, they refine it in China. So that way, they can kind of launder the fact that it’s made with, you know, child labor, and then they manufacture it into battery components for lithium ion batteries, whether that’s Evie batteries, or, you know, battery storage components. And I think it was something like we would need two thirds of global copper production, I’d have to double check those numbers, because it’s been a while, but you’re talking massive quantities of metal that obviously has another valuable purpose in everything else that we use that that metal for it already. Right. So it’s, you know, it’s interesting to me that there’s this presumption that, you know, the, the cost of these metals will always remain low. And that renewable energy will always get priority in their sourcing, which, you know, none of that neither of those two things are true, because there’s probably a lot more valuable ways that we could be using this copper. In fact, if I’m, I’m giving my opinion, there’s like, almost no use of this copper that’s less valuable than an intermittent wind turbine or a solar panel that works 18% of the time in Minnesota. So yeah, I mean, it’s interesting that a lot of the same Congress, people are probably not overly inclined to support mining in Minnesota. Minnesota has the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of copper and nickel and cobalt in the in the world. We also have significant platinum and palladium reserves. So American experiment, did a study, you know, for two years ago now, that said that developing these resources in an environmentally responsible way would create 14,850 new jobs in Minnesota, which is the size of it’s about the size of Hibbing Minnesota, which is where, you know, Bob Dylan grew up, right. So that’s, that’s his claim to fame, besides the fact that it’s a very large producer of iron ore too. So, you know, Congressman, so
Robert Bryce 38:26
just to repeat, so you said yes. What was that for Minnesota alone to go 100% renewables in across the across the the economy, you’re talking 150% of global cobalt production? Yes. And two thirds of global copper. I mean, these are massive numbers. And this is the part that to me, is this disconnect to explore that if you don’t mind? I mean, this kind of musing at this point, or maybe just, you know, presuming what the this thinking is about, but how is it that this kind of this this is obviously a list of heavy hitters in Congress, and in the House of Representatives? Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is one of the sponsors Ilhan Omar from from Minnesota Rashida to leave. This is the kind of the, you know, obviously the left wing of the Democratic Party. How is they so disconnected from the real functioning of the grid and the real world issues around metals and mining? How did we get there? How does this disconnect gotten so wide?
Isaac Orr 39:32
That’s that’s a really good question. I guess I would look to see like, how much time have these people spent in, you know, areas where mining happens, or farming happens? Or like what kind of jobs have these people had outside of Congress? I think that that’s, you know, probably a relevant question to ask. Because if you’ve only worked in Congress your entire life, Eisenhower had a great quote about agriculture like farming looks mighty easy. If you’re poor. I was at Penn. And you’re like, 1000 miles from a cornfield. Right. So, you know, that’s why like Vaclav Smil is how the world works. It’s just a great book. I’m about halfway through it. But he basically starts it was saying people think milk comes from the store. And that’s not where it comes from. So, you know, I, I really think it boils down to some sort of like, almost like affluenza. Right, we’ve gotten to the point to where everything is so good that, you know, we, I really liked the concept of thinking about, you know, energy, food production mining in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right. So and especially with energy, like, you know, you’ve got your basic needs, which is food, water, then you want security and safety. And then you want things that are, you know, more spiritual, if you want to call it that, or, you know, you’ve got your self actualization triangle at the top. And I think a lot of people have forgotten like, we’ve we’ve had the bottom rungs of our, our needs satisfied for so long, that we can only focus on the self actualization tip of the triangle. And we’ve really been undermining the, you know, the other the base of the pyramid, basically, in order to attain these kind of, you know, tertiary, these goals. And I think that’s exactly what’s happening with the grid, right? So I say that, for energy, you need a secure supply, right? Russia kind of showed us that that needs to be the base of the pyramid, then you need reliability, then you need affordability. And then at the very tip, you can have carbon free, right, you need to find a way to satisfy security, reliability, affordability, and being carbon free. That’s got to be the third or fourth and final consideration on your energy hierarchy of needs. Because if you try to invert that pyramid, like Germany did, we’re seeing that it has really disastrous consequences.
Robert Bryce 42:02
I completely agree. I like that the security of reliability, affordability, I guess, to me reliability, affordability, there’s stacked right, you know, and that’s the it’s hard to kind of tease those, in fact, those first three out there security, reliability, affordability, but then yeah, lower, no carbon comes after that. But let’s talk about your a permanent then because I’m just looking at the TTF front month prices for August now. So that’s the spot price effectively on for nat gas delivered into the Dutch trading habit. TTF $54.78. Today, well, 5478. So that’s compared to Henry Hub today, I don’t know, which is sub $6. I
Isaac Orr 42:38
don’t know what that’s probably about 10x. What we’re paying in the United roughly at roughly
Robert Bryce 42:42
$10 or 10 times more than what we’re paying in the US. But how shocking is that? And how shocking is the prospects in Europe, for them ignoring the importance of energy security and relying as we talked about before about relying on imports, but you know, you you bring what I find refreshing about your work and kind of your honesty, and frankly, your bluntness let’s be clear. You never shy away from a fight. But it’s what’s happening in Holland with the farmers there. Well, yeah. And you’ve written about this recently. So I’m sure I can explain this a little bit. But you’re familiar with it as well. What the hell’s going on in the Netherlands in terms of farmers and why are they striking?
Isaac Orr 43:26
So the the main reason that they’re striking is there’s like an EU target for emissions reductions of nitrogen. And it appears that the, you know, the people in Brussels don’t really understand that nitrogen is the primary fertilizer that is responsible for putting food on their table, right. So they’re the Dutch government
Robert Bryce 43:48
and creation of synthetic ammonia through the haber bosch process, which exactly requires large amounts of natural gas. And I’ve seen all over the world fertilizer prices skyrocketing in tandem with availability of natural gas and or fertilizer plants in Europe closing down because they can’t afford the gas to stay open.
Isaac Orr 44:06
So exactly. There’s a marginal producer. So that’s the backdrop but we’ll see
Robert Bryce 44:09
in the last few days are these Dutch farmers striking over these What is it the requirement that they cut fertilizer use and have something
Isaac Orr 44:16
like Yeah, yeah, they want to cut fertilizer use in half, they also want to reduce the number of animals that are allowed to be in you know, these these farms in. In you know, Holland, because animals when they you know, they burp they fight? Well, I mean, that’s not where the nitrogen the nitrogen comes from in the manure, right? So they want to make it to where you can only use the manure in only or in order to fertilize your fields. But, you know, as smell says, and how the world really works, that’s a recipe for reducing yields by 50 or 40 to 50%. Right. So these politicians who have probably never have been on a farm, have never spent a summer on a farm and tried to depend on this revenue for their livelihood are telling all these Dutch farmers that they either need to go out of business. And that’s just the cost of reducing the emissions. Or they’re saying, well figure something else out. You know, we’re gonna tell you, you can’t use the one thing that’s been proven to alleviate more global hunger than you know. It’s like the Norman Borlaug Green Revolution. It was, you know, anhydrous, ammonia, you know, synthetic fertilizers, better crop breeding, mechanization and irrigation. So they’re basically kicking out one of the main components of that and telling them, well, you figure it out. That’s your job that so this is like, this is my favorite thing that the politicians do. They say, Oh, well, we’re going to tie one hand behind your back, but we’re going to let the market solve this problem after they’ve already like hugely distorted the actual market. Right. So now the Dutch farmers are basically saying we’re not going to take it and they’ve been burning hay bales in the street. Apparently, there’s been reports of them. Emptying the manure spreaders on in front of the homes of Dutch politicians, which as a farm kid, like thoughts crossed my mind when somebody slights me before so haven’t done it, haven’t done
Robert Bryce 46:26
it locked in the block border crossings with with manure dumps as well. So it just it’s remarkable. It seems like this is the the French yellow vest movement goes to Holland, yet its farmers but it’s the it’s the same kind of you know, I keep returning to it an interview I did with a guy named Mark Berman on the podcast and he said energy is the economy. Oil is the economy and and that our money is just a call on future energy use. And I haven’t written about this yet. I’ve been writing other things but just I think that’s so it’s so spot on that when you start putting constraints on the flow of energy or you and putting those constraints or making it more expensive. The economy’s just start to seize up. And that piece in The Wall Street Journal a few days ago about the the industrial complexes that BASF is in the middle of you’re looking at the complete and deindustrialization of the entirety of Europe because of their over reliance on Russian gas. I mean, have you thought about that? What what that what those consequences could look like? I mean, because it just seems scary as hell right now.
Isaac Orr 47:32
Yeah, I mean, I like to go back, whenever I do a presentation, I like to start with an energy 101, that just goes to the dictionary definition of energy, which is Energy is the ability to do work. And when you make energy more difficult to get or make it more expensive, you’re making it more difficult to do work, or more expensive to do work, whether that’s heating your house, plowing a field growing your food. So when we enact all these energy policies that intentionally make energy more scarce, or more expensive, it ripples through every aspect of the economy. And that’s, you know, art’s absolutely right when he says that it’s a future, it’s a call on future energy, like, everyone’s joking that the Fed can print more dollars, but they can’t print more oil. And really, the the agriculture industry is the energy industry. It’s the original solar industry. And one of the main ways that we’re able to boost the production of the of crops is by giving them the nitrogen that they need, right? So the primary energy input is solar energy, it’s all energy. So you know, unfortunately, you know, Sri Lanka is figuring it out in a in a really bad way that you can’t mandate, you know, going back to organic food and maintaining the standard of living that we have today. The Dutch are going to figure that out. And I think I saw somewhere that they’re the number two exporter of agricultural products behind the United States. I don’t have a verification of that that was a tweet. So like, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna own that stat. But if it’s true, that’s pretty significant. That, you know, Europe is basically, you know, hampering its own food production at a time when it’s also decided to ban fracking turn off its nuclear power plants, and its coal fired power plants and rely on Russia. And you know, you were talking about how shocked you were that natural gas is $54 per MCF over in Europe, but I’m not like Europe has been playing stupid games for a really long time. And they’re winning all the prizes, you know, all at once. So, it’s, you know, I wrote a piece in 2017 It’s my only piece in The Wall Street Journal, but I just said Germany should say DACA for US oil, and I talked about how, you know, you American frackers have suppressed the price of oil from then like 114 bucks a barrel down to 60 and the like the global you know, energy dividend that that paid out to you Average Germans and they had the gall to look down at us. Like, I don’t really have much sympathy for Europe right now. Because all the while when they were, you know, doing really stupid things. They were also kind of looking down their noses at the at the Americans, it’s a bunch of rubes. So they made their best they can lay in it, right?
Robert Bryce 50:20
There’s that there’s that video clip. And, you know, there’s not a lot of love loss for Trump, but just that the, you know, he I think he was speaking at the UN and he going into Germany and said, You’re relying on Russia for all of this stuff. And you’re not. And they showed the German delegation. Oh, you know, he’s such a Rube. And now they’re, they’re on the precipice of disaster. And I don’t know how they come out of this. I mean, even if, you know, now Boris has resigned. They’re talking about, you know, repealing the fracking bans in Britain. But even if they start drilling, now, it’s years away before they are able to start producing significant quantities of their own gas, to reduce their reliance on Russia. And yeah, they can put they can bring in LNG from the US, but it’s going to be expensive, and there’s just not going to be enough. So I don’t know. It’s just but yeah, I’m glad you mentioned Sri Lanka, because here’s the point that I was getting to was that the US is looking at or shouldn’t be looking at what’s happening in Europe and saying, Hey, we better not do that. And yet, what I see from the Biden administration is, oh, let’s do the exact same thing. And I look at Holland and they’re doing the exact same thing that happened in Sri Lanka, where the saying, Oh, you just go organic, you know, it’s gonna be fine. I mean, there’s just no sensibility. It’s like, there’s no history, there’s no one’s reads the paper understand what’s going on. It’s damn scary, is what it is. I’m optimistic. But I look at this, and I’m damn worried.
Isaac Orr 51:39
Yeah, what’s the old phrase any idiot can learn from their own mistakes, but it takes someone with brains to learn from the mistakes of others? And yeah, unfortunately, you know, if we had a president, we might be able to, like, avoid some of these negative consequences. I, you know, I wish that the Biden administration would come out and say, Look, Germany, unless you keep those nuke plants going, unless you ramp up those coal plants, you can forget about any kind of deal on LNG into the future. If you like the fact that we are stationing troops in your country, you better do everything in your power in order to make yourself more energy secure, right? So we just we need an executive who’s not going to be afraid to bully Europe into doing the right thing. Otherwise, we just need to be totally cool letting them fall by the wayside. Right. I think that,
Robert Bryce 52:31
well, my call to the president was and I published a piece in the hill just a day or so ago, saying he’s abused the bully pulpit to advocate for nuclear. I mean, if you look at what is happening as the world is using more coal, because the demand of electricity continues to rise, and Europe is in total crisis, well, there is no alternative. There is no the renewable thing is it’s a joke. It’s not going to work, is it? And yet, I’m reading the same energy independence and security as energy security and Independence Act. And here’s some of the biggest environmental groups in America advocating this. What is it truly an insane kind of policy and I, but to me, it’s good. Could be Biden’s Nixon goes to China moment, you know him here. I mean, the Democrats have been opposed to nuclear for all these years, I’m coming out to say, No, we got to change course here. And we got to get real and not holding my breath here for this. But that’s what I’d like to see happen.
Isaac Orr 53:18
Yeah, I mean, that’s what should happen, right? The guy should come out. And he’s, you should say, look, I appointed some people to FERC, who made it more difficult to permit natural gas pipelines. That was a huge mistake. We need to be off, you know, he’ll authorize the defense production act for anything, but something that would actually increase America’s national defense. Right. So it’s a total failure of leadership. But we don’t need to everyone’s talking about that. We don’t need to get into the nitty gritty about that.
Robert Bryce 53:49
Fair enough. Let me let me switch gears on your station break here. My guest is Isaac Orr. He’s a Policy Fellow at the center of the American experiment. You can find him on Twitter at the fracking guy or find him at American experiment.org. Didn’t you do some modeling with your colleague Mitch rolling on West Virginia and electricity prices? Did you would does that report done? Or did Can you tell us about that? Yeah, absolutely. So it provides some good basis for West Virginia versus EPA, you looked at? You’ve done various models for different states, as you talked about before. Yeah. But tell us a little bit about that model, if you don’t mind.
Isaac Orr 54:21
Yeah. So last fall, when the clean electricity performance program was kind of the the it girl on the block mentioned I jumped to action and we modelled the cost of the CPP in Arizona and West Virginia. Like for no reason, right, you you could probably figure out why we chose those two states. Right.
Unknown Speaker 54:42
So Senator Manchin? Yeah, baby.
Isaac Orr 54:45
Yeah. I think you’re very warm their
Robert Bryce 54:49
future in politics. Yeah.
Isaac Orr 54:51
Yeah. So basically, you know, that program required a 4% increase in so called Clean Energy. You’re Over a year, right? So for West Virginia that would have cost something along the lines of 35 billion from 2021 through 2030. And the only reason I think it was 120 billion in Arizona, because they were already operating from a more carbon free standpoint, because of Alaverdi. Right? But you are looking at huge increases in costs for, you know, average, West Virginia families as a result of this, we said the additional costs imposed by the CPP would be more than 100, or sorry, $1,100 per customer, per year through 2052. So what we always did is like, we would kind of spin these studies forward, because, you know, the way that utility companies bill you is they’ll they’ll amortize the cost over a long period of time that you don’t pay off a power plant all at once, we’re gonna pay for it over 30 years. So we wanted to give an accurate representation of, okay, so we have the so called temporary program that only has $150 billion allocated to that can only last for 10 years under the reconciliation rules. But this is going to be an unfunded mandate for 20 years down the line. So absolutely, the the West Virginia versus EPA case means that a lot of the coal plants that are currently existing in West Virginia, will not be subject to the same regulatory, you know, sticks, that EPA is obviously going to be coming for it over the next two years, because, you know, the Biden administration has been unable to get anything through Congress, even though they have the Senate, the White House and the House of Representatives. So they’re going to the second half of the Biden administration is going to be a lot like the second half of the Obama administration, where it’s going to be ruled by pen and phone, which is why West Virginia versus EPA is so important, because it’s kind of reining in the ability of the bureaucracy to broadly interpret statutes that never conferred this authority to the agency in the first place.
Robert Bryce 57:11
Yeah, I’ll just make one quick addition to that, because I think it’s really important to think about what this means for I think it’s gonna apply federally, but this reliance over reliance or dependence on the administrative state to do what they can’t do to implement policies that they couldn’t pass through the legislature. This is clearly what’s happened in California, which is leading the country down the down the, you know, this, this path toward insolvency when it comes to and great instability. But a lot of the policies that are being implemented in California are very similar in that regard. And that they’re, they’re being implemented by the administrative state without the legislative approval to actually make it happen. So just a quick aside. So let me just ask my guest to get as Isaac or we’ve been talking almost an hour. So just a couple more questions. So what do you read? I mean, you know, I know you read widely and you are there are publications that you rely on more than others when you think about energy and power issues that you find reliable, and which do you find extra credible, which do not read or find that their coverage is just bad?
Isaac Orr 58:11
See, I like to I like to read the bad stuff, too, just to get an idea of what the bad guys are up to.
Robert Bryce 58:18
And there’s a lot of information coming. I mean, a lot of these activist groups, the NGOs are starting their own news outfits. I mean, look at Rocky Institute, they started Canary media, and they said, Oh, right, completely independent, and there’s zero Don’t worry about us, or we’re gonna play it all straight. So I mean, they these outfits have become very big content generators. I’m just wanted to make that one quick point. Forgive me, but please go ahead.
Isaac Orr 58:41
Yeah, absolutely. I really like Javier blas on Bloomberg, I think he shoots straight most of the time. But really, what I do is I try to look for the source documents that all the reporters are referencing in the first place. So I’ll read Reuters, I’ll read Wall Street Journal, I’ll, you know, click on Washington Post or New York Times from time to time if I think that there’s a source document in there that is, is interesting, right. So, you know, there’s there’s a lot of good followers on Twitter, obviously, that, that, you know, I think, do a good job of kind of looking at these issues. But you know, the great thing about Twitter, I think, is it’s really kind of given people the ability to look at the source more more frequently. So you’ll look at the EIA Data or somebody will be on there talking about what’s happening in the BP statistical review, you know, there’s like there’s a lot more opportunity for like micro content to be interesting with charts and graphs. So you know, a lot of times I’m just kind of scrolling through energy Twitter to see what’s what’s new what’s happening. And and I go from there.
Robert Bryce 59:48
Yeah, yeah, I do the same. Although I just avoid getting into arguments because I just like life is not to
Unknown Speaker 59:55
you’re a better man than I just don’t have time. I’m busy. I’m on to something else. You don’t like what I written? Sorry, block, mute, ignore. I don’t have time for that. I’m slowly.
Robert Bryce 1:00:07
So a couple of last questions. So what are you reading? You got any books on your I know you, you have a lot of different things. You’re an investor in real estate, you do a lot of other things. But any books on your nightstand or on your desk there that you’re reading now? If so what?
Isaac Orr 1:00:19
Yeah, absolutely. I’m reading the geologic history of the Wisconsin State Parks. My mom got that for me for my birthday. So I’m paging through that. Oh, yeah. So Wisconsin used to be an equatorial place. So over time, you know, plate tectonics just kind of moved it up to its current place, I listened to a lot of books on tape, so that way, I can kind of do other projects, whether that’s on, you know, it’s cleaning the house, washing the dishes, or, you know, taking care of some like real estate stuff. I just finished, when pride still mattered, which is a biography on Vince Lombardi. I’m, I’m getting into the 1960s packers in a big way.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:01
Which was why is that,
Isaac Orr 1:01:04
you know, it’s just kind of, you know, I’m a big Packers fan, like, I’m such a, but sometimes I’m like, I get hurt too much by watching the game. So I’ll have to listen to it and do something else to be productive. So I don’t feel like I’ve wasted three hours if they lose. So So obviously, the all the the results are predetermined for a historical view of it. But the guy who took the worst team in the league in the Packers were obviously well, they’re on the on the edge of getting bounced from the NFL, because they were so bad from 1944 to 1959, when he took over, and he turned it into like the most winning franchise in history, right? If you count the pre Super Bowl NFL championships, which I do, because I’m a Packers fan. But just his relentless focus on winning is is interesting, like, it’s very difficult to do like to win the Super Bowl once and he managed to win the NFL Championship three times in a row. So you know, a lot of those those stories are probably are editorialized to some degree, right. But just like, in you know, there’s there’s trade offs to some of this, but I, one of his things is he always said we need to run to win. And that wasn’t like a, we need to run the ball to win. It’s like, we need to be focusing at all times on on our objective, and we need to be running towards that objective. And I that’s that to me, is just like a very motivational thing. So that’s one of the reasons why I like it. Like, I know it’s corny to go back in time and find stuff like that. But that’s I grew up on a farm, I grew plenty of corn, I think I’m entitled to that. So and then, you know, I’m also listening to how the world really works. So like,
Unknown Speaker 1:02:56
is your is your thoughts love smell book collection? As big as Marine? I think it’s a dozen. It’s
Isaac Orr 1:03:00
all on my audible.
Unknown Speaker 1:03:03
So yeah, I still like to have the physical book, you know, yeah, bookmark it. And yeah, I probably
Isaac Orr 1:03:08
will do that one for this one, because it’s one of his shorter volumes, but energy and civilization is still one of my favorite books, because it gives you the historic concept that you need in order to think about this in terms of a a rational view. So like, that’s one of my one of my talks is the future of energy, then I’d give it to like Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs, they asked me to come in. And it’s really just a history of energy. So I kind of bamboozled them on the title, but you need the history in order to appreciate where we’ve come from, and then how you move into the future, which I usually say is almost certainly nuclear power because of the energy density, which is something you’re very familiar with.
Robert Bryce 1:03:48
Sure, ya know, the power density issue is key. So last question, what gives you hope?
Isaac Orr 1:03:54
I love this question. Every time you ask somebody, this, I think about how I’ll answer this, if I’m ever invited on to the podcast again. So here I am. And, you know, I don’t ever really feel hopeless. So, you know, for me, like, right now, I’m just grateful that I get to work on this issue at this time, because it’s never really been more important for our perspective to be heard, Robert, that, you know, you can’t shut down these reliable coal plants before you have some sort of, you know, reliable replacement, whether that’s, that’s gas or nuclear. And, you know, I always just kind of grew up with this perspective, if the sun is shining, you have to make hay and, frankly, from a rational energy policy perspective, or advocating for rational energy policy. It’s never been sunnier. So we’ve really, we’ve got work to do. We don’t have time to like sit around and you know, look for some some inspiration, you make your own luck. And you know, that’s, we really need to just seize this moment and educate as many people as we can about the the consequences of ignoring this because they’re coming down the pipe
Robert Bryce 1:05:01
Well, I I agree, and I’ll let you have that last word. I think that’s a good summary. Yeah, it’s, it’s important to maintain that optimism. So well. Great. Well, Isaac, thanks a million for being on the power hugging podcast for the second time. And, again, you can find Isaac and his work. He’s on Twitter. He’s active on Twitter at the fracking guy. You can find him at American experiment.org. And I hope on a future episode of the power hungry podcast. We’ll make it three times here sometime soon. So, Isaac, thanks again for coming on the podcast. It’s always a pleasure, Robert. And thanks to all of you in podcast land, give us a good rating on one of those podcast writers when you get a chance and until then, we’ll see you here next time.