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America First Energy Conference – “an amazing day”

By Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris
web posted September 3, 2018

“It will be an amazing day,” Dr. Tim Huelskamp announced at the start of the America First Energy Conference (AFEC) held August 7 in New Orleans. “You’re going to learn a lot … about so many issues – issues many in the media do not want us to know about.”

Indeed, we did. As Huelskamp, former Kansas Congressman and now President of conference organizer The Heartland Institute, explained to the audience of 225, packed into that single day were presentations from leading representatives of government, science and think tanks determined to set the record straight on where America stands and where it needs to go on energy. Here are samples.

In his morning keynote address Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry summarized the benefits of energy independence. “An energy independent America creates a safe America; it creates a prosperous America. It builds the middle class. It provides good jobs, good schools. It gives government the ability to give teachers a raise, to give our police and firefighters raises. It secures the safety and liberty of the entire world.”

Using the electricity required to power the Houston metropolitan area as an example, Landry discussed the impracticality of trying to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. To produce that power using corn ethanol would require over 21,000 square miles of corn fields.

“Think about that footprint!” he exclaimed. To produce the same amount of electricity from wind power would take almost 900 square miles of wind turbines, or 150 square miles of solar panels, he added.

Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was an ever-present voice at the conference. He received an award for valor in the face of extreme opposition to his outstanding work on satellite measurements, which show conclusively that carbon dioxide (CO2) has played no significant role in altering Earth’s temperature. 

In his panel presentation on CO2, he made the unarguable case that there are no negatives for the rising amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. It is a miracle molecule that makes life possible on Planet Earth.

Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, Texas Public Policy Foundation, talked about the positive impact that her book “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the mad war on energy,” coauthored with Steve Moore of the President’s transition team, has had on the US energy picture.

She also focused on the horrific impacts outcomes forced upon world’s poorest families, when they are deprived of efficient, inexpensive fossil fuels in favor of costly solar and wind energy that can never compete in the free market without major taxpayer subsidies.

Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, shocked the audience with incredible data on the efficiency and economics of continuing to developing our vast offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Because of the great advances in development of shale gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, less attention is being paid to more conventional off shore vertical wells. But in fact, three-dimensional seismic data, combined with technological advances that allow multiple wells from the same platform, have costs down and yields up. 

Leimkuhler said that in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that are currently open to leasing (i.e., the Central and Western Gulf) more and more offshore leases are likely to receive bids in the future, due to the increased value of Gulf Coast Crude relative to oil from fracking. For the Gulf Coast refineries, offshore Gulf of Mexico crudes provide higher yields of the more valuable products desired by the market (fuel, diesel). 

Sterling Burnet, Editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News, moderated a panel on coal, oil, and natural gas. Panelists demonstrated America’s good fortune of holding huge inexpensive reserves that can maintain America’s energy costs dramatically below that of other nations. Burnett said we must end the war on fossil fuels by continuing to explain the economics, safety and efficiency of coal, oil and natural gas.

He described the large numbers of coal fired plants that were shut down by the Obama administration. This trend must be stopped, Burnett emphasized. Coal needs to be brought back as a great American resource in the hearts and minds of the American public.

Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, led the Trump administration’s transition team on energy regulation. At AFEC he reviewed the many regulations being eliminated. 

He noted that President Trump called for two rules to be eliminated for every new rule that would be established in his administration; but in fact his administration has eliminated twenty regulations for every new one established. We still have a long way to go to fully unencumber America’s economy, Ebell said, but the start has exceeded most expectations.

Marc Morano, publisher of the influential Washington,DC-based Climatedepot.com, revealed that many of America’s most strident leftist environmental activist groups are heavily financed by Russian money in an effort to hurt the US economy through inhibiting the use of fossil fuels and promoting the waste of government funds for research into implausible man-caused climate change. 

Morano’s new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change, is considered one of the most complete guides to the true history of the greatest fraud in history, man-caused climate change.

It was heartening to learn the participants in Panel 6: Reforming the EPA all felt the new administrator Andrew Wheeler will carry on the excellent work of former administrator Scott Pruitt. The problem is, and will continue to be, that the vast majority of EPA staff remain Obama appointees who will continue to impede efforts to make significant reforms. In spite of this, changes for the better are occurring almost daily as Wheeler meets with state groups across the country.

In his keynote address at the conference’s closing session, philosopher and President of the Center for Industrial Progress Alex Epstein explained how to win the energy debate. First establish an agreement on the correct framework, one that is even handed, precise and values human health, living standards and betterment. Then the facts in support of fossils fuels are more likely to be well-received.

Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller,The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, showed a video of his exchange with Senator Barbara Boxer of California at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Boxer wondered what a philosopher was doing lecturing the committee. He smoothly answered, “to help you learn how to think clearly.” This brought the house down.

All AFEC sessions – including Carbon taxes, cap & trade, and other bad ideas, Fueling freedom and prosperity, Cafe standards: Why they need to go, Climate lawsuits against energy companies and the government – may be viewed on the conference web site: http://americafirstenergy.org/.

Everyone needs to watch these educational conference presentations. It was a day to remember. ESR

Dr. Jay Lehr is The Heartland Institute’s Science Director. At AFEC, he moderated the conference panel “Why CO2 emissions are not creating a climate crisis.” Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition. He is a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute and moderated the conference panel, “Fueling freedom and prosperity.”

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