A Free-Market Energy Blog

CERAWeek 2018: ‘Tipping Point; Strategies for a New Energy Future’ (free-market energy vision, anyone?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 28, 2018

“I cannot recall a representative from a free-market think tank (Cato, CEI, IER, etc.) ever addressing the CERA throngs. This does not speak well for the organizers intellectually or as trusted consultants. Truth bats last in public policy.”

“Oil and gas are booming in the US as never before. It is time to not only expose the fallacies of Peak Oil and Energy Security, it is time to explode the neo-Malthusian exaggerations about fossil fuels and climate change.”

The 37th edition of Daniel Yergin’s CERAWeek (IHS-Markit) starts on Monday March 5th, concluding on Friday March 9th. Speaker slots fare full.

We are at a “tipping point” that demands “strategies for a new energy future,” declares the headline of the upcoming CERAWeek conference, the annual gathering of the energy industry in Houston, Texas. The March event includes a plenary on “What’s Ahead in Washington”) with Republican lawmakers Lisa Murkowski and John Cornyn and Department of Energy leaders—but nobody from the US Environmental Protection Agency who might just question the flimsy science and losing politics behind climate alarmism (why not?).

And as a tilt to uneconomic renewable energies and crony capitalism, Yergin has this session: “Powering a New Energy Future” with the CEOs from the rent-seekers Duke Energy and PG&E.

I have long had mixed feelings about Daniel Yergin and CERA. As I explained in a previous post at MasterResource:

Yergin has always been very politically correct …. He is an influence- and profit-maximizer, in the final analysis, and sometimes that can interfere with the intellectual side of things.

I remember from my Enron days how CERA was making money off of its climate consulting services where alarmism and policy activism were not to be questioned. (I participated in their conference calls.) The annual CERA conference–easily the most important event of the year for the energy industry–would feature alarmists and influence peddlers (such as Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change) but nary a skeptic.

CERA, in fact, has never hosted a debate on climate science in front of an energy audience eager to know. I cannot recall a representative from a free-market think tank (Cato, CEI, IER, etc.) ever addressing the CERA throngs. This does not speak well for Yergin intellectually or as a trusted consultant. Truth bats last in public policy.

If ever there were a year to question the energy statism model–climate alarmism and forced energy transformation—2018 is it. The Trump Administration is reversing the previous administration’s anti-fossil-fuel, keep-it-in-the-ground strategy.

Oil and gas are booming in the US as never before. It is not only time to expose the fallacies of Peak Oil and Energy Security, it is time to explode the neo-Malthusian exaggerations about fossil fuels and climate change.

Yergin Circa 1979

The ‘tipping point’ theme of CERA 37 should hark back to a failed ‘new energy future’ espoused in the late 1970s by Daniel Yergin himself.

In 1979, Energy Future, Report of the Energy Project of the Harvard Business School (coauthored with Robert Stobaugh) outlined a demoted fossil-fuel future.

In the opening chapter, “The End of Easy Oil,” Yergin and Stobaugh stated:

“The range of energy possibilities grouped under the heading ‘solar’ could meet one-fifth of U.S. energy needs within two decades” (p. 12).

“Domestic oil and gas, coal, and nuclear power as a group can increase their contribution to cover, at most, one third to one-half of the nation’s additional energy needs over the next decade” (p. 11).

“The best that one can expect is that a deregulated price will enable natural gas production to remain at current levels” (p. 10). [Today’s production is about 50 percent above 1979’s.]

The two wise men estimated the ‘social cost’ of imported oil at $35 per barrel (p. 9).

And in the last chapter, “Conclusion:  Toward a Balanced Energy Program:”

“It is clear that domestic [U.S.] oil, gas, coal, and nuclear cannot deliver vastly increased supplies, although it is equally clear that these sources cannot be ignored” (p. 223)

Stobaugh and Yergin concluded:

“… if the market is to resolve the problems, its distortions must be corrected so that all energy sources, including conservation and solar, will be able to compete on an equal economic footing.” Think government energy direction via price controls and subsidies for politically favored energies. Short of government saving the market from itself, “the market system itself in the years ahead will inevitably become increasingly constrained by regulation and disruption” (p. 225).

Energy Reset

Nearly 40 years later, the free market has largely triumphed despite government intervention. We have free market energies … and then we have wind power, (on-grid) solar power, and ethanol.

Dr. Yergin is getting long in the tooth. With the compete reset of Obama’s energy statism, prefaced on climate alarmism, what an opportunity to invite Alex Epstein to present ‘The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels’ to the huge crowd. And how about some Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency representatives on the new policy direction away from climate statism?

The agenda between Monday March 5 and Friday March 9 is here. Of the 59 speakers , none would fill the bill so well as a speaker from the free market, libertarian, classical liberal side, and help justify the following CERA advertisement:

  • Hear from more than 300 high-caliber speakers across a program of over 200 sessions
  • Gain valuable insight for managing through turbulent times facing the future of energy
  • Build relationships with a community of more than 3500 decision-makers from more than 60 countries and all facets of the energy industry

Insight into the energy future®

CERAWeek by IHS Markit is the premier annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, as well as top executives from the technology and financial sectors. 2018 marks the 37th anniversary of this influential event, ranked among the top five “corporate leader” conferences in the world. From March 5 through 9 in Houston, Texas, CERAWeek 2018 will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue and an unmatched opportunity to engage with key decision-makers from around the world.


  1. John Garrett  

    (1) Yergin is a self-promoter and a politician.

    (2) To a greater or lesser extent, all self-promoting politicos get up every morning, lick a finger, stick it up in the air, and figure out what direction the wind is blowing today.



  2. Mark Krebs  

    “Follow the money:”

    Your registration fee of US$8250 provides access to all conference sessions including those in the Innovation Agora, event materials and meals


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