A Free-Market Energy Blog

Paris Lives! “Deep Decarbonization” at DOE

By -- June 28, 2018

“EERE’s mission for a ‘transition to a global clean energy economy’ is simply a restatement of the UN’s global ‘deep decarbonization’ strategy via ‘beneficial electrification’.”

“‘Clean energy’ should be part of an all-the-above energy policy (when it fairly competes with all other viable alternatives). However, ‘clean energy’ advocates (including electric utilities) don’t want all-the-above: Instead, they want an all-electric energy monoculture and are willing to wager our futures that it won’t ruin the economy.”

Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion include: Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. This article examines that force within the “swamp” of climate change policies in DOE.

Despite President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw for the Paris Agreement, the basis of that agreement–“deep decarbonization” through “beneficial electrification”–is proceeding virtually unabated. This is because deep decarbonization serves the purposes of the electric utility industry and their environmentalist allies, e.g., the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Swamp Inertia

Four beneficiaries are driving the loophole in Trump energy/climate policy. Think of the political economy principle of  concentrated benefits, diffuse cost.

For electric utilities, the objective is dominating markets currently served by the direct use of fossil fuels by ordinary consumers. For environmentalists, the objective is increasing political control of the economy under the guise of safeguarding our future from the assured devastation of global warming. For DOE staff and their “National Labs,” the objective is “career growth” through massive bureaucratic mission creep. For politicians, it’s developing a crisis and profiteering from it.

But what about the economy? Ostensibly, no cost is too high for decreasing carbon.

Background: Obama’s DOE

In November 2016, “deep decarbonization” was proclaimed by President Obama as official US policy. The charge was plain:

With a clean electricity system comes opportunities to reduce fossil fuel usage in these sectors: for example, electric vehicles displace petroleum use and electric heat pumps avoid the use of natural gas and oil for space and water heating in buildings. [1]

In January, a few days before President Trump was sworn-in, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published its strategic plan [2] and mission statement for a “transition to a global clean energy economy.” [3] So far, neither of these have changed.

On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw its participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate stabilization.  According to the Paris Agreement, the fundamental strategy for climate stabilization would be by “deep decarbonization” primarily through “beneficial electrification” powered with “clean energy.” But how are these terms defined exactly?

Deep decarbonization: [4]
The primary strategy of the Paris Agreement for climate stabilization through an 80% reduction in the global use of fossil fuels to “decarbonize” the World’s energy systems by 2050.

Beneficial Electrification: [5]
Replacing consumers direct consumption of natural gas and gasoline, along with other forms of fossil fuels, and on to electricity (with the assumption that electricity generation will be dominated by “clean energy”).

Clean Energy:
Strictly interpreted, it’s just renewables. And more specifically, renewable electric generation. However, many variant definitions exist.  For example, DOE includes nuclear, bioenergy and fuel cells as “clean.” And so-called clean coal also appears to qualify via “carbon capture & sequestration” (CCS) as does natural gas, if it is used as a feedstock to make electricity. Energy efficiency (e.g., “nega-watts”) is also deemed “clean energy” by some.

Missing from consideration within these terms are the associated environmental and economic degradation that occur globally by such a transition.

President Trump’s “America First” energy policy was his rationale for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement as it would undermine the American economy. His concerns were and are well founded; considering the economic costs of this “80 by 50” transition may exceed $25 Trillion (for just the U.S alone). [6] One would think there would be a clear and concise definition of “clean energy” given its potential costs. But, alas, there isn’t. One would also think it prudent for legislators and regulators to “look before you leap” into supporting such a vast transition. Such prudence is apparently limited.


The 2018 World Gas Conference (WGC) convenes at the end of June. The American Gas Association is the host and interviewed DOE’s Secretary Perry about it. The complete interview is available here. [7] In the interview, Secretary Perry offered some comments regarding the bright future of natural gas.

But as what exactly?  Does he mean natural gas as the leading an alternative to electricity; as it’s consumed by Americans in 68.4 million households, 5.5 million commercial buildings and 188,000 industrial plants? Does he mean natural gas as a feedstock to make electricity (and maybe some reserved for plastics manufacturing)? Does he mean natural gas as an export? Or some combination?

The answer should be some combination.  However, the interview never really addressed the current and dominant use of natural gas by consumers as an alternative to electricity. But it did include the following excerpt that may provide some hope:

As evidenced by the above excerpt, Secretary Perry ostensibly believes in an “all-the-above” energy policy that retains consumers right to choose.  However, this right to choose is contradicted by EERE’s implementation of its present strategic plan and mission statement that excludes the direct use of fossil fuels (including natural gas).

Think about it: Transitioning to a global clean energy economy means there must be a transition from something. By the process of elimination, about the only energy sources not clean are the direct use of fossil fuels. In addition to natural gas direct use, “not clean energy” also includes gasoline, propane, etc. Regardless, “clean energy” (i.e. electrification) is being put forth as the universal cure without disclosure of side effects.  In essence the ‘clean energy’ future striven for by EERE exports environmental impacts to others and at high costs.  Such non-climate related impacts are ignored.

EERE’s mission for a “transition to a global clean energy economy” is simply a restatement of the UN’s global “deep decarbonization” strategies via “beneficial electrification.”  DOE remains closely involved with the UN affiliated “Clean Energy Ministerial” (CEM). Top DOE officials take credit for the inception of the CEM [8] and have been active participants since its beginning according to an article titled Trump aide touts carbon reductions at global summit. [9]

“Clean energy” should be part of an “all-the-above” energy policy (when it fairly competes with all other viable alternatives). However, “clean energy” advocates (including electric utilities [10]) don’t want an “all-the-above” energy strategy: Instead, they want an all-electric energy monoculture and are willing to wager our futures that it won’t ruin the economy.

Regulatory Capture

The term “regulatory capture” is used to describe a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture by electricity industry interests has a long history.  In can be found within Federal [11], State [12] and even local regulatory agencies.

To illustrate regulatory capture within EERE, below is an excerpt of draft for a February 7, 2002, Cato Institute article by Ronald Sutherland and Jerry Taylor that I was asked to review.  The article as published and titled is Time to Overhaul Federal Energy R&D. [13] Unfortunately, the following excerpt was omitted from the final published version:

An examination of the DOE’s R&D budget from 1977 to the present indicates that little of the budget is used for oil related research and most is used for electricity related programs.  R&D investments in renewable energy, such as wind and solar, are electricity related.  R&D investments in coal technologies and nuclear energy are also electricity related.

In 1996, The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) published an article titled “Technology and the Transformation of the Electricity Industry.” This article was basically a review of its annual Summer Seminar.  Reportedly: “One idea that gathered force during the two days of discussion was the creation of a national electricity R&D road map.” The article went on to say:

 The map would be directed at the policymaking community and would reveal the essential leverage to be gained from a coordinated R&D approach. It would also allow organizations like EPRI and the national laboratories to carve out appropriate niches and begin to work together in new ways.

While not called “regulatory capture,” EPRI’s “national electricity R&D road maplooked like a plan for it.  And it seems to be working as shown by the following discussion about the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their research team.

DOE’s National Labs (who Secretary Perry refers to as “crown jewels”) include efforts to advance electrification. For example, NREL is responsible for supporting the CEM through the Clean Energy Solutions Center. [14] Unlike other National Labs, NREL reports directly to and receives most of its funding through EERE. With that funding, it has published numerous reports in support of electrification.  Several of these have been published since President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  For example, NREL’s “Electrification Futures Study: End-Use Electric Technology Cost and Performance Projections through 2050 (EFS) [15] and “Electric End-Use Energy Efficiency Potential in the U.S. Single-Family Housing Stock.” [16]

According to its EFS, NREL is not alone in this “research.” Specifically, NREL lists the following members of its “research team:”

In addition to NREL, the research team includes the Electric Power Research Institute, Evolved Energy Research, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Northern Arizona University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

NREL is also affiliated with REN21 (a.k.a., the Renewable Energy Policy Network) [17] who just released its Renewables 2018 Global Status Report. [18] An excerpt follows:

A faster transition to a renewable energy future requires a holistic, system-wide approach, including increasing energy efficiency measures to reduce overall energy demand. It is not enough to simply build more wind farms or put solar panels on every rooftop. Nor is it enough to substitute electricity for natural gas used for heating if the source of the electricity is not renewable. Put simply, renewables need to be used to meet the energy needs of all sectors. This means that renewable energy providers need to better understand the thinking, challenges and opportunities in every end-use sector. Local involvement of all stakeholders and local ownership (e.g., prosumers, community energy) is also critical.

Other Recent NREL Reports on Electrification: [19]

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is also active in the field of electrification; primarily through its “Electricity Markets & Policy Group.” For example, the following report published in March of 2018: Electrification of buildings and industry in the United States: Drivers, barriers, prospects, and policy approaches. [20]

Summary and Conclusions

Whether it’s called regulatory capture, rent seeking or political capitalism, the result is the same: Power accrues to the powerful.  In addition to receiving taxpayer funding, advocates of “deep decarbonization” have profited greatly by climate change fear mongering for donations as well as from the deep pockets of Tom Steyer and the like. And now these advocates have officially joined forces with the electric utility industry as evidenced by the recent pact between NRDC and EEI  that includes the pursuit of “efficient electrification of transportation, buildings, and facilities.” [21]

In large measure, EERE’s current activities should be viewed as inappropriate subsidizes for deep decarbonization via electrification in contravention of President Trump’s proclamation to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. It is also contrary to President Trump’s Executive Order 13783 as follows: [22]

  1. It serves to “limit the use of certain sources of energy, such that the development of domestically produced energy resources from a certain sector may be negatively affected.”
  2. It serves to “burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.

Given the often-mentioned pride that Secretary Perry has of his “clean energy” legacy in Texas, it may just be that no one within DOE wants to challenge the bosses views about “clean energy.” Or it may be that I’m expecting way too much too soon for changing the course of a bureaucracy like DOE. Regardless, “clean energy” (as currently defined and practiced) unfairly discriminates against other economically viable energy alternatives.  In addition, “clean energy isn’t without its own environmental and social justice problems.  For example, see “Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car.” [23] Also see Illegal mining in Congo wiping out gorilla populations. [24]

The environmental aftermath of “clean energy” waste streams is also massive.  According to a presentation of Dr. Ken Morgan, [xxv] 1 ton of rare earth mining (crucial for most renewables) produces “1 ton of radioactive waste liquids, 10,000 cubic meters of toxic waste gas (S, HF, etc.) and 2,000 tons of mine tailings.” In an article titled “Are We Headed for a Solar Waste Crisis?[xxvi] it states: Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants. Also see:


  1. Getting back to “holistic:” Start with a more holistic evaluation of full fuel-cycles efficiency and emissions to specifically include imported products and exported pollution.
  2. Also consider that the loss of energy diversity through “beneficial electrification” is fundamentally bad for national energy security (meaning good for cartels and hackers).
  3. Likewise, energy resilience through “beneficial electrification” will also suffer; especially when it comes to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. This is especially true for extreme cold weather emergencies. Attempting to serve such peaks electrically is both economic folly and deadly.
  4. Consider that (contrary to popular beliefs), many costs of reducing carbon are too great.

In short: It’s time for some course corrections within EERE that allow broader, not narrower, consumer choice for the following reasons:

  1. To achieve a proper balance between environmental and economic considerations.
  2. To truly embrace diversity within an all-the above energy policy.
  3. To begin helping Americans first

To start this course correction, those within DOE, its National Labs and its contractors who work to limit the energy choices of American people should be instructed to cease and desist its jihad against fossil fuels.

Zeroing-out funding will likely be necessary.  But then legislators need to understand why they shouldn’t just reinstate it.  Otherwise, we should expect freedom of choice; as long as that choice is electric.

If Secretary Perry is serious about allowing the American people “to use the type of energy that they think is best for their businesses, their lives and their families,” while remaining true with being realistically “clean,” then he needs to start making it happen in harmony with President Trump’s “An America First Energy Plan” to “lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources.” [32]

Otherwise, per the opening paragraph of this article regarding Newton’s laws of motion, “unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force” inertia compels continuation.  That just continues President Obama’s and the UN’s globalist policies of so called “deep decarbonization” by electrifying everything. Trump promised an end to the Paris Agreement. It is time for his appointees to follow his lead.


Mark Krebs, an engineer by training, has been involved with energy efficiency design and program evaluation for more than thirty years. He has served as an expert witness in dozens of energy-efficiency filings, which he summarized in a Public Utilities Fortnightly article, “It’s a War Out There: A Gas Man Questions Electric Efficiency” (December 1996).

[1] https://unfccc.int/files/focus/long-term_strategies/application/pdf/us_mid_century_strategy.pdf

[2] https://www.energy.gov/eere/downloads/eere-strategic-plan

[3] https://www.energy.gov/eere/mission

[4] From Good Intentions to Deep Decarbonization

[5] Beneficial Electrification: A Growth Opportunity

[6] Estimating Costs of Deep Decarbonization (California and beyond)

[7] Perry interview: AN ENERGY REVOLUTION

[8] The History and Future of the Clean Energy Ministerial

[9] Trump aide touts carbon reductions at global summit

[10] EEI 2017: The utility sector’s business case for deep decarbonization

[11] When the Rule-Makers Are Captured

[12] 6.2.3 Regulatory Capture

[13] Time to Overhaul Federal Energy R&D

[14] Clean Energy Solutions Center: About

[15] Electrification Futures Study: End-Use Electric Technology Cost and Performance Projections through 2050

[16] Electric End-Use Energy Efficiency Potential in the U.S. Single-Family Housing Stock

[17] http://www.ren21.net/

[18] Renewables 2018 Global Status Report

[19] Other Recent NREL Reports on Electrification

[20] : Electrification of buildings and industry in the United States: Drivers, barriers, prospects, and policy approaches

[21] recent pact between NRDC and EEI

[22] Executive Order 13783

[23] Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car

[24] Illegal mining in Congo wiping out gorilla populations

[25] presentation of Dr. Ken Morgan

[26] Are We Headed for a Solar Waste Crisis?

[27] The rise of electric cars could leave us with a big battery waste problem

[28] The Dark Side of Solar Panels

[29] How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really?

[30] A Clean Energy’s Dirty Little Secret


[31] Are electric cars worse for the environment?

[32] An America First Energy Plan


  1. On Energy Transitions | Science Matters  

    […] describes how the anti-carbon agenda is now embedded in societal structures. Mark Krebs writes Paris Lives! “Deep Decarbonization” at DOE. Excerpts in italics with my […]


  2. Tom Tanton  

    This is an important read for anyone concerned about affordable, clean and resilient energy; as the lifeblood of our resurgent economy, that should be everyone. It is no longer safe to assume there’s any silver bullet. Electrifying everything is bad…bad for the environment, bad for the economy and bad for security. The vast majority of consumers want choice, and they choose natural gas for many end uses. They make the right choice when allowed to, unencumbered by misdirected and self interested policies revenants of past administrations. One thing I’ve learned in 45 years in the electrical field, it’s not for everything and everyone. Save it for where it’s needed.


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