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Houston Chronicle: Unpublished ‘Letters to the Editor’ (cancelling me)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 1, 2023

“The Houston Chronicle editorialists can cancel me, but they cannot cancel energy density and the perils of dilute, intermittent substitutes for real, stock energies. Reality bats last, and climate alarm and the ‘energy transition’ are doing very poorly outside of getting government favor to keep the mirage going. It is sad that political cronies are the only winners in the futile crusade, and real challenges, opportunity, and need are foregone.”

My longtime hometown paper, The Houston Chronicle, always left-of-center, has gone fully climate alarmist and glowingly reports about the “energy transition”. The paper reports as a PR department with some real energy news (the booming fossil fuel industries) thrown in. Nothing bad about wind and solar except that there is not enough subsidy to make it go faster against the entrenched fossil fuel interests.

I smell a rat. In addition to Progressivism per se, why is the Chronicle so adamantly pro-wind, solar, batteries and anti-stock energies, the ones that consumer naturally choose (affordability, dependability) that leave taxpayers alone? Are there some grants from environmental foundations for “environmental reporting” to improve profitability at the Chronicle?

And why does the Chronicle brass wink at the blatant conflict of interest with its business editorialist Chris Tomlinson, married to a wealthy wind and solar dealmaker? [1]

Tomlinson does not like me for calling out his biases and copy. But how does one deal with a badly conflicted journalist who doesn’t even care to question his premises or research what is wrong with both climate alarm and the forced energy transformation? He is as closed-minded as they come. And a bully too.

I once wrote opinion-page editorials for the Chronicle.

  • “ExxonMobil on Right Path” (June 14, 2009)
  • “Climate-Change Alarmism Runs into a Reality Check” (January 9, 2009)
  • “False Alarms and Climate Change” (March 30, 2008)
  • “Al Gore’s Telling Whoppers Again” (June 4, 2006)
  • “Shoppers: There is a Bright Side to Rising Gas Prices” (April 18, 2002)
  • “President is Correct to Ignore Climate Alarmists” (May 14, 2001)
  • “Fear Not: The Energy Malthusians Are Wrong” ( April 21, 2000)

But after years of op-ed submissions only to have them die with nary a response, I no longer have the inspiration to try to set the record straight. That leaves me with letters-to-the-editor, which are quick and easy. But they too no longer see the light of day, little doubt because the paper’s decision-makers know that I blow the whistle on a closed-minded, angry Tomlinson.

Here are four LTEs that I have submitted that fell into the abyss of the politically incorrect. I write, you decide. They may die at the Chronicle but, for the record, they live here at MasterResource.

Tomlinson on “Exxon Knew” (January 18, 2023)

Chris Tomlinson’s editorial (“Exxon knew about climate change; Big Oil cannot be trusted,” January 18, 2023) deserves a second look. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, two bigger issues were global cooling and Peak Oil, respectively.

Also, the “spot on” temperature forecasts cited by Tomlinson are spot off compared to the satellite data, which since 1979 have shown much less warming than surface thermometers and climate model predictions.

The higher-ups at Exxon did not “know” about elevated global warming because the science was embryonic. Exxon also did not study the cooling offset of aerosols, much less the CO2 fertilization effect and other benefits (warmer winters) from growing fossil fuel usage. How much warming, good or bad warming, public policy tradeoffs … that would be for the next generation to study and debate.

Natural Gas Reliability for Power Generation (January 9, 2023)

“State must take basic steps on gas reliability” (editorial, Houston Chronicle, January 9, 2022) states Texas is a free market when it comes to electricity and natural-gas generated power.

The opposite is closer to the truth. ERCOT is a centrally planned wholesale power market covering 90 percent of the state. State and federal laws govern all aspects of electricity, directly or indirectly.

A true free market in power would repeal a bevy of state-federal laws to eliminate franchise protection, rate regulation, transmission access edicts, entry or exit mandates, and industry-structure limitations. Also, preferences to renewable energies would significantly improve the economics of thermal power plants.

One can debate the wisdom of policy reform, but the fact is that electricity is one of the most regulated industries in Texas and the United States.

Grid Reliability (July 25, 2022)

Re “May heat wave exposed the myth of fossil fuel reliability,” by Dennis Wamsted and Seth Feaster (Houston Chronicle: July 26, 2022)

The argument that fossil-fueled electricity in Texas is unreliable—thus taking the heat off renewables—misses the elephant in the room. Fossil-fired generation has been reliable for well over a century, but what gives in the Lone Star State?

We know all about intermittent renewables when the wind stops blowing and the sun does not shine. But on its strong days, wind and solar weaken the grid by idling reliable generation and otherwise lowering margins. The ‘Atlas Shrugged’ situation has three parts: prematurely retired generation, a lack of new capacity, and undermaintained existing capacity.

The recovery of the Texas grid (same for California too) requires an end to preferential subsidies to wind and solar. That way, gas- and coal-fired generation (and nuclear power as well) will be incentivized to reliably perform.

Electricity Rates (June 8, 2022)

Chris Tomlinson (“Electricity bills leap by 70% over impact of disastrous freeze,” Chronicle, June 8, 2022) erroneously attributes rates to fuel costs and not reliable supply—and thus sides with wind and solar for rate relief in the future.

True, wind and solar have no fuel costs. But they have the highest capital (up-front) cost, as well as the worst reliability. They cause grid problems not only from intermittency but also by backing out reliable generation and lowering margins. The result is retired and poorly maintained natural gas and coal capacity, contributing to shortages and price spikes at the peak.

Final Comment

The Houston Chronicle editorialists can cancel me, but they cannot cancel energy density and the perils of dilute, intermittent substitutes for stock energies. Reality bats last, and climate alarm and the ‘energy transition’ are doing very poorly outside of getting government favor to keep the mirage going. It is sad that political cronies are the only winners in the futile crusade, and real challenges, opportunity, and need are foregone.

Appendix: A Conflict of Interest?

Chris Tomlinson is a wealthy man. His wife boasts on LinkedIn:

Clean energy executive with track record of closing deals with $2B in transaction value. Strategic thinker with deal structuring, project management, team building, negotiation, and new market development experience.

Her history is primarily as a solar executive: 13 years as VP-origination and Project Developer at RES Americas (2007–2020) and before that, Projects Director for CAMCO, wherein she “Developed clean energy project pipeline in East Africa for UK-based firm.” Before this, she was a project manager for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy, having a Masters of Environmental Management from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

She currently is Director – Origination at Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, which describes itself as “Renewable Energy Specialists, follows:

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners is an ESG-focused, ‘value add’ investment manager with a specialist focus on low carbon and renewable energy supply, storage, grid stability and related assets and businesses…. As fund managers, they have led investment teams and portfolio companies that have invested over USD 2.5 billion of equity in over 200 low carbon, renewable, storage and grid support projects covering a wide spectrum of technologies.

She is described as follows:

Director with over 20 years’ experience in renewable energy

Ms. Ramanathan is responsible for offtake origination and customer relationships

  • Shalini works closely with Quinbrook’s portfolio companies to identify and execute relationship based, origination and offtake agreements for Quinbrook projects
  • She has extensive experience in origination and project development in U.S. power markets and a track record of closing >2GW of renewable projects representing more than USD 2.5B in transaction value
  • Prior to Quinbrook, Shalini spent 13 years with RES Americas beginning as a Project Developer and most recently leading RES’ U.S. origination efforts as Senior Vice President of Origination
  • Shalini holds a Bachelor of Arts in Plan II Honours program from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University

One Comment for “Houston Chronicle: Unpublished ‘Letters to the Editor’ (cancelling me)”

  1. David Peters  

    Mr. Bradley,
    I enjoy your blogs on energy & environment. I want to add to your observations about the Chronicle’s Tomlinson. At a Catholic “climate” conference in October in Houston, he was quoted in the Texas Catholic Herald newspaper.
    In the article in Oct 25 Texas Catholic Herald, Tomlinson stated the goal was to fundamentally transform our economy!! Here is a link. He is cited on page 6.
    He then accused pastors of not adopting his climate change views because they are conflicted by their parishioners affiliations with oil companies.
    Thanks for reporting on his wife’s affiliations. Did not know.
    I have no desire for my comments to be published. This is for your information.


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