A Free-Market Energy Blog

Tomlinson Bullies the “Bullying” Oil Industry

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 14, 2021

“We cannot allow oil executives to blackmail us,” concludes Houston Chronicle business editorialist Chris Tomlinson. “They are not prophets; they are business people looking for profits.” And you, sir, are an elitist telling motorists and travelers of all ages and income levels to go eat cake.

He just keep doubling down against consumers who naturally choose the best energies–the plentiful, cheaper, more dependable ones. And so Chris Tomlinson closes out his repugnance week at Houston’s World Petroleum Congress with a peculiar rant:

Yes, Big Oil’s leaders promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as long as they can make money. But failure to provide the industry with $11.8 trillion in capital between now and 2045 will trigger an energy crisis that they insist will make the public forget all about the climate crisis.

Correct. Oil controls the global transportation market: cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes. And the “climate crisis” is about cranky computer models that spit out results that can be no better than their assumptions.

But Chris is different. He is married to a well-off renewable-energy executive who presumably is a reason for his closed mind toward climate alarmism and the problem of government-driven inferior energies.

Tomlinson imputes defeatism and angst in the industry:

The industry is panicking. Investors and governments are refusing to finance big fossil fuel projects with an aim to neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Big Oil is paying more for capital as investors shower clean energy companies with resources.

Or maybe not. The large majority in oil and gas (and coal) know that climate alarmism rests on shaky science (wink, wink at the latest UN/COP26 Red Alert). And cash flow is the best capital for reinvestment. And individual investors will be happy with good dividends and reasonable stock appreciation. They will make, in fact, what emotional investors leave on the table.

Maybe Mr. Tomlinson is feeling desperate because consumerism trumps political elitism. He has called for the oil and gas industry to cease operations, but it is booming with no end in sight.

Real World

Back in the real world, James Osborne, no friend of the oil and gas industry (he works at the Chronicle too), wrote about the conference account next to Tomlinson. Osborne begins:

In India, government officials use the term “clean energy” to describe building LNG terminals and pipelines so households don’t have to burn wood or cow dung. In Nigeria, clean energy means developing offshore natural gas fields, instead of capping them and moving on to search for oil.

He notes:

The resistance in Asia and Africa to abandoning fossil fuels could extend the runway for the oil and natural gas industries that support the Texas economy…. African and Asian leaders are asking why they should sacrifice their development to solve a climate problem that was largely caused by the West.

“It is not feasible for oil and gas to be taken offline in the short- and medium-term because of the state of our development,” said Lawrence Apaalse, chief director at Ghana’s Ministry of Energy. “We’re just beginning to industrialize.”

And that is just the developing world. In the United States (as elsewhere), oil and gas is holding up despite the (short-lived) politics of the Biden Administration that will drive him out of office soon enough.


Tomlinson speaks of a “social contract” and complains that the oil and gas industry are “not above making implied threats.”

“If we don’t invest in energy, we are going to pay the consequences on a global basis,” declared Charif Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a U.S. liquified natural gas exporter. “When most people around the world are confronted with a choice between a climate crisis or an energy crisis, they will choose to deal with an energy crisis first and with a climate crisis after.”

Correct. Today’s problems come before a hypothetical long-run problem.

“We cannot allow oil executives to blackmail us,” concludes Tomlinson. “They are not prophets; they are business people looking for profits.” And you, sir, are an elitist telling motorists and travelers of all ages and income levels to go eat cake.

The bullying needs to stop? It is up to Chris Tomlinson to open the mind that consider consumers and taxpayers before industrial wind turbines, solar arrays, and batteries take over the landscape and creeping climate authoritarianism takes over our lives.


[1] Note: Two changes in the original post have been made from a comment from Mr. Tomlinson in the comments section. First, he does not drive a Tesla but a Chevy Bolt, one of the earlier and cheaper EVs.

Second, I referred to his wife as “a solar executive.” She previously specialized in solar in an executive position and was VP Origination for Renewable Energy Systems (RES) in the Americas, “a leading developer and constructor of wind, solar, and energy storage projects.” (She closed projects with a transaction value in excess of $2.5 billion.) She is now Director of Origination for Quinbroook Infrastructure Partners, specializing in these areas. My point remains the same: Tomlinson’s wealth is from renewable energies that he promotes by day at the Houston Chronicle.


  1. Tom Tanton  

    The real pandemic facing us is the virulent projection of the climate left. ““We cannot allow oil executives to blackmail us,” concludes Houston Chronicle business editorialist Chris Tomlinson.” Can he even recognize the implied (existential!!) threat to us all in those empty words?


  2. Ed Reid  

    Remember 1973-1974.

    “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”, George Santayana.

    Choking off the supply of a critical commodity before a viable alternative is economically available is a recipe for pain and suffering. This time it is our own government, not OPEC, creating the supply crunch. The price response has already begun.


  3. Packard Day  

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! ”
    But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

    Rudyard Kipling
    For it’s Big Oil this, an’ Big Oil that, an’ “Chuck them out, the brutes!”
    But it’s savior of the country when the lights go out and heat fails to heat.
    An’ it’s Big Oil this, an Big Oil that, an’ anything you please;
    An Big Oil ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Big Oil sees!


  4. John W. Garrett  

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”
    -Robert A. Heinlein

    The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
    “Time Enough For Love”

    Mr. Tomlinson is clearly not interested in facts, science, mathematics or economics.


  5. Chris Tomlinson  

    For the record, I do not own a Tesla, I bought a Chevy Bolt for less than $30,000, which is below the average U.S. vehicle price. My wife works for a private equity firm and is not a solar energy executive. The rest of your rant is also misrepresentative, which is why I have always rejected your attempts to get quoted in my columns.


    • rbradley  

      I will be happy to correct my error–and I apologize for them.

      First, Chevy Bolt it is. You might share with folks your experience with the recall of that car. That would be fair, right?


      Your wife was a solar executive–she has a new position now specializing in renewables. Aren’t you missing the main point: you are living well off a rent-seeking business that you promote as a business columnist? And in a very biased, look-the-other-way basis? That is a story for another day…..

      The Houston Chronicle to my knowledge does not have any members on its editorial board that are either conservative, libertarian, or classical liberal. Do you believe in intellectual diversity and checks-and-balances for opinion writers?

      A second question for you: Has the Houston Chronicle, directly or indirectly, received any grants from climate alarmist/forced energy transformation nonprofits or groups? If so, what grants from whom and for what purpose? (A simple ‘no’ will be accepted at face value.)


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