A Free-Market Energy Blog

Zycher: Just the Facts, Mr. Steyer

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- July 21, 2014

“[Tom] Steyer has proven himself a master at working the system, first to amass a fossil-fuel fortune, and now to bask in the applause of the environmental left even as he feeds at the green energy subsidy trough…. Thus has he descended into a display of crass dishonesty shameless even by Beltway standards.

– B. Zycher, “He’s Explaining, and He’s Losing.” The Hill,  July 18, 2014.

It’s good to have Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D economist and longtime energy scholar, at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

He continues the intellectual tradition carried on, most recently, by Stephen Hayward and Kenneth Green. And this tradition goes back to when AEI led the fight against oil and gas price and allocation controls in the dark 1970s. Twenty-five studies in their National Energy Project (1974–76) and Studies in Energy Policy (1976–85) helped make up for Resources for the Future taking a Malthusian left turn. [1] 

In The Hill, Zycher wrote a devastating criticism of Tom Steyer’s fossil-fuel past and anti-fossil-fuel present. Zycher knows his climate science, energy, and climate policy, and his subject gets a multi-disciplinary bashing.

Steyer publically personally challenged Charles and David Koch to a debate on the climate science.  Let the brothers run their business, Mr. Steyer. Ask Benjamin instead, and odds are you will have your debate.

Here are two parts of Zycher’s He’s Explaining, and He’s Losing.” I have numbered the science points; otherwise it is a direct quote (and thus indented).

Nine Science Facts

    1. There has been no temperature trend over the last 15 years, notwithstanding the predictions of the models.
    2. The past two years have set a record for the fewest tornadoes ever in a similar period, and there has been no trend in the frequency of strong (F3 to F5) tornadoes in the United States since 1950.
    3. The number of wildfires is in a long-term decline. It has been eight years since a Category 3 or higher hurricane landed on a U.S. coast; that long a period devoid of an intense hurricane landfall has not been observed since 1900.
    4. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season was the least active in 40 years, with zero major hurricanes.
    5.  There has been no trend in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, and tropical cyclone energy is near its lowest level since reliable measurements began by satellite in the 1970s.
    6. There is no long-term trend in sea-level increases.
    7. The record of changes in the size of the Arctic ice cover is far more ambiguous than often asserted, because the satellite measurements began at the outset of the warming period from roughly 1980 through 1998.
    8.  The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows no trend since 1895.
    9. Flooding in the United States over the last century has not been correlated with increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Temperature Effect of Full Out

If we apply the climate model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, used by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Obama administration “carbon” policies would reduce global temperatures in the year 2100 by about two one-hundredths of a degree under the highest IPCC climate sensitivity assumption.

A 40 percent U.S. emissions reduction — more than double the Obama goal — would reduce temperatures by six one-hundredths of a degree. If that 40 percent reduction were to be imposed by the entire industrialized world, including China, the predicted effect is about half a degree.

The ball is definitely in Steyer’s court. He is invited to peek out of his foxhole and engage Mr. Zycher on the physical science, the economics, and the politics of climate change (aka global warming).


[1] See Bradley, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy, (Salem, MA: M & M Scrivener Press, 2009), pp. 266–68.


  1. John W. Garrett  

    The hypocrisy of the limousine liberal left knows no bounds. It is appalling.


  2. Wayne Lusvardi  

    Back on Oct. 28, 2010, I was the first journalist in the U.S. to bring Tom Steyer to the attention of the public (see “Prop. 23 Foe Profits From ‘Dirty Coal'”, CalWatchdog.com).

    At that time Steyer was the major financier against Proposition 23 on the California ballot that would have delayed the rollout of the state’s Cap and Trade program until the unemployment rate dropped to 5%. Steyer ran a campaign against Proposition 23 on the basis that “Dirty Coal” and a bunch of Texas oil refineries were behind the ballot initiative. Prop. 23 was defeated.

    Now in 2014, a caucus of mostly Democratic state legislators in California is calling for a delay or outright suspension of the implementation of California Cap and Trade regulations on gasoline, as it would disproportionately impact lower income workers.

    So “Big Oil” and the gas refiners were right all along that regulation of transportation fuels would negatively impact the working class.

    Here is what I discovered in 2010 about Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management:

    [begin quote] According to the June 30, 2010, Form F-13 Filing with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for Tom Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management Company, the firm is holding the following energy stocks in its portfolio:

    Yingli Green Energy Holding Company an all-green photovoltaic solar panel manufacturer in China. Yingli Green Energy Americas has been selected to provide solar modules for 16 solar power installations at several Kaiser Permanente hospitals and office facilities across California.

    Following a trend of other solar panel manufacturers, any Yingli Green Energy factory built in the U.S. is likely not to be in California but in Texas or Arizona. Yingli Green Energy announced in July, 2010, that it is postponing its plan to build a solar panel factory in either Texas or Arizona. The Federal government has approved a $4.5 million tax credit for its proposed facility. The relative weakness of the Euro against the U.S dollar means that European customers wouldn’t pay for more expensive panels from a U.S.-based Yingli factory. Europe is Yingli’s biggest market.

    Farallon also holds stock in NRG Energy that provides energy from “clean” solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, coal (yes “Dirty Coal”) plants in Texas, Louisiana, California, and in the State of Arizona (home of the controversial SB1070 anti-immigration law).

    Another holding of Steyer’s Farallon Company is Ram Energy Resources, an oil and natural gas company in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

    Sandridge Energy is an Oklahoma City based company dealing in oil and natural gas as well as the treatment and transportation of C02 (carbon sequestration).

    CalPERS external fund manager

    In 2009, CalPERS demanded better terms from its external fund managers, such as Farallon Capital Management Company, and also stated that it wanted better disclosure of securities held in their funds. Reportedly, CalPERS had money with Farallon but redeemed (repurchased) that investment in 2009. The CalPERS’ Total Fund Quarterly Report for June 3, 2010, still shows Farallon as an external fund manager.

    Farallon shifting from real estate to green energy

    According to the Wall Street Journal, Farallon suffered severe losses during the real estate meltdown and is apparently now shifting some of its investments into green energy.

    Energy Sources are fungible, prices are not

    Electrical energy is fungible which means that a number of different fuels and technologies (oil, gas, hydro, coal, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) can function as substitutes. They all can produce electrons that can go into the electrical grid.

    However, hydro-power and coal power are typically the cheapest, with natural gas being of intermediate price and wind, solar and geothermal being the highest priced (including infrastructure costs).

    Should an energy provider be able to knock out a competitor, such as cheap coal power, using California’s Green Power law, then oil and natural gas prices would probably rise substantially.

    Without cheap hydro and coal power to keep oil and natural gas prices in line, it is likely that electricity rates would rise. Since the price of energy is loaded into the prices of food, transportation and many other economic goods and services, rampant inflation would likely be the result of eliminating coal power from the energy mix. Hydropower is explicitly banned as “clean” energy under California’s Green Power law even though it emits no pollution.

    Under California’s green power law those holding stocks in oil and gas and clean, renewable power providers would likely thrive while stocks in cheap coal and hydro-power and refineries would apparently suffer. [end quote]


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