A Free-Market Energy Blog

‘Dear Daniel Yergin: Give Alex Epstein the Microphone at CERAWeek’ (2016 Idea of Age in 2018)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 10, 2018

[Editor Note: Advertising for the premier energy conference CERAWeek 2018 is in full swing. Two years ago, Daniel Yergin was urged to invite Alex Epstein to present the moral case for fossil fuels. Today, with fossil fuels on the ascent, it is surely time to feature the world’s hottest energy philosopher. Thus, this February 22, 2016, post is reprinted verbatim.

“If good and evil are measured by the standard of human well-being and human progress, we must conclude that the fossil fuel industry is not a necessary evil to be restricted but a superior good to be liberated.”

“We don’t need green energy–we need humanitarian energy.”

– Alex Epstein, “At CERAWeek Fossil Fuel Leaders Should Make A Moral Case For Their Industry,” Forbes.com., February 18, 2016.

For many years, make that decades, I have noted Daniel Yergin’s political bias at the annual CERA conference here in Houston. Nonindustry speakers have routinely been climate alarmists and anti-fossil fuel proponents, picked from both the government and the nonprofit sector. One of many examples would be Eileen Claussen, founder and past head of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change (now the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions), who made it her mission to soften up the oil and gas industry to climate alarmism. Yergin gave her the microphone at the CERA conference to do just that.

The list would be very long of the bad guys and gals — and very short on fossil-fuel champions. I have never been invited to speak; neither has anyone from CATO or CEI or other free-market think tanks to my knowledge. And think of what a climate pro like Judith Curry could do, telling the industry that the climate models are running way too hot and climate sensitivity estimates are coming down–good news in an era of $30 oil.

How about an enlivening energy/climate debate at CERAWeek with, say, Alex Epstein versus Bill McKibben? Let the crowd see who has the better arguments and who is really the humanitarian.

A caveat. Daniel Yergin is a politically correct scholar and a revenue maximizer for himself and CERA (now part of IHS). His 1979 co-edited book, Energy Future: Report of the Energy Project of the Harvard Business School, was full of Malthusianism. His epic book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, was ghost researched and ghost written–a ‘book by committee.’ The book helped build CERA and make Yergin a go-to person. But he has been all too quiet on the solar/wind forced energy transformation front when he should have been at the forefront of the bad economic and environmental consequences of government energies.

CERA has long had a climate consultancy (I used to attend and/or listen in to some of it in my Enron days). By assuming the problem, not debating it, and by being a go-between with industry clients and those in power, CERA softened up the industry some more. [Today, the climate consultancy is called IHS Climate Strategy Dialogue.]

Alex Epstein

So it was great to read Alex Epstein’s latest column at Forbes: a special message for CERA and the dues paying members to seek the moral high ground for natural gas, coal, and oil–and slam the door in the face of the cronies and government coercionists. Stop compromising. Stop being ‘progressive’. Stop the country-club Republicanism–access to get that special government favor while proclaiming support for free markets and economic freedom.

Here are some more salient quotations from Epstein’s Forbes piece, referenced above.

“In a low-price environment where profit margins are slim to non-existent, an industry needs to be as free from destructive government controls as possible–and yet the industry faces the threat of unprecedented government controls. For its own sake and for the sake of billions of people’s lives it energizes, the industry needs to vigorously fight back against the anti-fossil fuel effort–and do so on moral grounds.”

“The fossil fuel industry is not a necessary evil, it is a life-enhancing good–and it needs to make that case loud and clear this election season.”

“Today’s catastrophists conveniently ignore that, 35 years ago, they predicted planetary destruction today–and that in fact not only have fossil fuels provided 81.5% more life-giving energy than they did back then, our planet has become a far better place for human beings to live.”

“Predictions that increasing atmospheric CO2 from .03% to .04% would cause runaway warming were met by the reality that CO2 causes mild, manageable and arguably desirable warming— and certainly a desirable increase in plant growth.”

“If good and evil are measured by the standard of human well-being and human progress, we must conclude that the fossil fuel industry is not a necessary evil to be restricted but a superior good to be liberated.”

“The green philosophy is a philosophy squarely opposed to energy growth, since all forms of energy and productivity entail significantly impacting–transforming–the planet to meet human needs. It is, therefore, an anti-human philosophy. It should be rejected and be replaced by the humanist philosophy, which seeks to maximize human well-being and recognizes that transforming our environment, done rationally, is not a vice but a virtue.”

“It is morally irresponsible and practically devastating for the fossil fuel industry to legitimize and compromise with the moral movement against its existence. It should instead make the moral, humanitarian case for fossil fuels–to the public, to its employees, and to politicians.”

“The 2016 election presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime energy opportunity–and energy danger. There is no middle ground. There can be no more standing down. It’s time to stand up.”

John Galt Broadcast Time at CERA?

The microphone belongs in the hands of Alex Epstein, the leading energy philosopher in the US and world today.

It does not belong in the hands of energy statists from outside the industry or energy apologists from within the industry. Their tired time is up.

Daniel Yergin, it begins with you. Is it time to proclaim fossil fuels to be a moral good–or continue the political correctness that has characterized far too much of your career?


  1. John W. Garrett  

    Just like Chuckie Schumer, Yergin is one of those people who always checks to see which way the wind is blowing before being caught with an opinion.

    He’s got the backbone of an amoeba.


  2. Michael Smith  

    Bravo to Alex Epstein! And kudos to Robert Bradley for quoting and promoting his thinking and writing.

    It is far past time to stand up to the environmentalists and identify the core of their movement: it is not “pro-environment”, it is anti-human. That is the alternative: the lives of you and your loved ones — or, raw nature, as man faced for thousands of years before the industrial revolution liberated us from the horrors of an uncontrolled, unimproved brutally hostile environment.


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