Cooking Without Gas: Stove Ban a Plan or Conspiracy Theory

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Joe Selvaggi talks with reporter and author of six climate policy books Robert Bryce about his investigation into the statements made by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner about the safety of gas cooking and the origins of the movement that assert that such appliances could be and should be banned.

Guest:

Robert Bryce is a Texas-based author, journalist, podcaster, film producer, and public speaker.  Over the past three decades, his articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Review, Field & Stream, and Austin Chronicle.

Bryce has published six books. His first book, Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, received rave reviews and was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2002 by Publishers Weekly. His second book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate, was published in 2004. His third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence,”published in March 2008, was favorably reviewed by more than 20 media outlets. The American magazine called Gusher “a strong and much-needed dose of reality.” A review of Gusher by William Grimes of the New York Times said that Bryce “reveals himself in the end as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary.”

Bryce has given nearly 400 invited or keynote lectures to dozens of groups including the Marine Corps War College, Sydney Institute, Jadavpur University, Northwestern University, and a wide variety of professional associations and corporations. He has also appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows including NPR, BBC, MSNBC, Fox, Al Jazeera, CNN, and PBS.

He spent 12 years as a reporter for the Austin Chronicle. From 2006 to 2010, he was the managing editor of the Houston-based Energy Tribune. From 2010 to 2019, he was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. From April 2020 to September 2021, Bryce was a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.

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Speaker 1:

This is Hubwonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Hubwonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute, a think tank in Boston. In an interview with Bloomberg News on January 9, the head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Richard Trumpka Jr., asserted the gas doves are, quote, a hidden hazard. Adding that products that can’t be made safe can be banned, citing studies that attribute 12.7% of childhood asthma to gas cooking. The uproar that followed was a case study in the coordinated interplay among political figures, health and climate activists, and media sources to deflect attention away from the commissioner’s statement, including impassioned denials from President Biden that any plan to ban gas stoves were fabricated, conspiracy, promising, all concern that no such regulations were in consideration. Not comfortable with this response, investigative reporters have examined the public records of anti-natural gas activists to understand the size and scope of its funding. Was the statement, that gas stove are a hazard and should be banned, an isolated gaffe from a Biden-appointed commissioner. Or is the move toward a ban, a part of a much larger movement to require American consumers to give up cooking with gas? My guest today is reporter and author of six books on energy policy, including his most recent work, entitled A Question of Power, Electricity, and The Wealth of Nations. Robert Bryce. Mr. Bryce has reported on and written extensively about the benefits of natural gas and the climate activism that attends its use. Mr. Bryce will put the recent gas stove controversy in context and share with us his findings on the origins of the anti-natural gas movement, who funds its activism, and what the effect those policies would have on consumers and the climate were they to be realized. When I return, I’ll be joined by Robert Bryce. Okay, we’re back. This is Hubwonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi, and I’m now pleased to be joined by journalist, author, and fellow podcaster Robert Price. Welcome to Hubwonk, Robert.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me, Joe. Glad to be with you.

Speaker 1:

Okay, great. It’s great to have you on the podcast. Your work came to me by the attention of an earlier guest, professor Roger Pilley, whose work I admire a great deal. And I just for the benefit of our listeners, I want to let them know you have a podcast called Power Hungry. You’ve written six books including the most recent book. What do we have? It’s what’s your most recent book title? A

Speaker 2:

Question, A Question of Power, electricity.

Speaker 1:

A Question of Power. Okay. I give you a chance to plug it right there. Yeah. Thank you. Question of power. And so before we jump into our topic today, I, I’d love for you to share with our listeners why did you get into writing specifically about climate and energy policy?

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well again, thanks for, for having me on, Joe. I’m, I’m, you know, I’m passionate about these issues, energy and power. I feel like it’s and I’ll, I’ll start there. There was a woman that I worked with at newspaper at the Austin Chronicle long time ago. She said, you don’t pick what you write, it picks you. And I feel that they’re — as I’m older now, I’m 62 — I’m beginning to see that that’s right, in fact, that this is what I was supposed to do. And that I’m born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which for about 20 minutes was known as the oil capital of the world. My dad was in the insurance business, not in the energy business, but inevitably being in Tulsa, I ran into people who were in the energy business, and I started to see that this was global business, right? They were working in Iran, they were working in Panama. They were working around the world, and I became captivated by it. And then more than 30 years ago, started writing about energy and power. And I’ve been doing it ever since, and I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to do it. I, these are the, these are the most important issues of the day. There’s a great deal of ignorance both in the general public and among policymakers. So you know, I count myself incredibly lucky to do what I do.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, so you come at this as a journalist rather than say a climate scientist.

Speaker 2:

So, I think of myself as a reporter, Joe. I mean, you know, I’m a podcaster. I’m a writer. I’m an author. I do, you know, short videos. I’m making documentaries, but I feel like it’s my job to report on these issues as well as I can, as honestly as I can and, and as frequently as I can. And so I’m try and produce a lot, because there’s a lot to talk about.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, as a reporter, you try to present the facts if I, if I can generalize the, the profession. So as someone who reports the facts, I’m very curious. When I look at the field of energy and energy policy I see a blend of, of both science, of course but also there’s something else. What else beyond science, in your analysis of all the books you’ve written and your reporting is, is this a scientific debate or something else?

Speaker 2:

Wow. How, how long were we on, as long as the podcast?

Speaker 1:

Well, broad strokes. Broad strokes.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well, look, I think what we’re seeing these especially lately, and I’ve written about this just in the past few weeks, is a vast advocacy effort around issues that are in theory related to climate, but really are in fact about limiting access to different forms of energy. And I’m talking about natural bans on natural gas, right? But the, the amount of money that has been deployed and is in the billions of dollars a year now by very large NGOs, I don’t call them in, in green groups. They’re NNG, they’re non-governmental organizations. They’ve been incredibly effective. And so what we’ve seen here in the us and then really, it’s kind of a bifurcated argument, Joe, and it’s really, if we look at this globally in the global issue of climate change and, and greenhouse gas emissions, I’ll say very bluntly, what the U.S. does, doesn’t matter anymore.

Speaker 2:

What matters is what’s happening in India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, these are the countries where CO2 emissions are, are expanding, are, are increasing dramatically. But yet we’re stuck in this, this policy debate. And I would say a kind of a circular debate around, whoa, what are we going to do and how are we going to save the planet? It’s, I’d say it very bluntly, it’s not about America anymore. And a lot of people have come to that same conclusion. And yet we’re deluged by, you know, new policy requirements, new restrictions on energy availability types of cars we can drive, et cetera, that are regressive in the extreme. And so, you know, where I come down on a lot of this is, this is about class and not so much about climate change.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, I like to when we do cover this topic with our, our listeners, I like to rhyme remind people who are only 4% of the world’s population, and the China now emits more CO2 gas than all the Western worlds combined western countries combined. So we

Speaker 2:

Are and burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. Indeed. And their coal consumption is rising. They’re building about, still about one new coal-fired power plant a week. And, and India just announced that they’re, they expect their coal consumption this year to rise by 8%. That’s a massive increase.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, indeed. So but I don’t want to bury the lead here because we we’re here to talk about the the recent controversy that erupted when I think it was January 9 when in an interview with Bloomberg the head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Richard Trumka, Jr. stated that “if stoves can’t be made safe, they can be banned. So I’m interested in the reaction and the reaction to the reaction. So let’s, let’s start with some of the basic facts. Natural gas is, in my view, relatively clean. It’s cheap, it’s effective. I cook with gas myself. How much does co2 contribute? How much does gas cooking contribute to our CO2 emissions in the United States?

Speaker 2:

Well, this is one of the most remarkable parts of this whole thing. And there was, you know, massive amount of media coverage. So, just a quick bit of background. The Rocky Mountain Institute, which got 10 million from Jeff Bezos a couple of years ago, to push for this very natural gas, this natural gas ban banned on natural gas stoves. They came out with a report and a very flimsy report claiming that use of gas stoves caused asthma and was responsible for nearly 13% of asthma cases in the U.S. reported as fact by the Washington Post. Well, so a few days later, they walk it back a few days later, the, or about the same time, the White House President Biden says, I’m not in favor of these gas bans. But to answer your question directly, the amount of natural gas consumed for cooking in the United States is four tenths of 1% of the total gas consumption in America.

Speaker 2:

And yet we’re told, including by people at Rocky Mountain Institute, that the gas stove is the key to solving climate change. It’s just not true. And I’ll add one other quick point, which is that the amount of gas consumed in the residential, residential sector in the United States hasn’t changed in 50 years. We’re consuming 5 trillion cubic feet of, of gas in our residences today is the same when I was 10 years old, 1970. I mean, it is just this, this is a power play. It’s a political maneuver by these big NGOs to try and restrict the amount of fuel that we cons, the amount and type of fuel we consume in our homes.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, your piece brought to my attention the fact that it is a relatively small percentage of gas use. Of course, the rest of the gases, when we heat our hot water or we heat our homes, the, the gas stove is 3% of the those who actually use any gas, right? If you have gas in your home, 3% of it’s used for the cooking. I want to go back to the we’ll call it R M I, Rocky Mountain Institute. Yeah. This, the assertion that, and is still being re-quoted by other news organizations that, as you say, nearly 13% of childhood asthma is attributable to gas cooking. You cite in your, in your one article that in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine in 2013, I’ll quote from there. We de their research in 47 countries over multi-year period their findings was, quote, “we detected no evidence of an association between the use of gas as a cooking fuel and either asthma symptoms or asthma diagnoses.” So, you know, this is a trope that’s been trotted out before, but really no, has no basis in reality.

Speaker 2:

It, it doesn’t. And the, the key thing to keep in mind here, Joe, is that this, this effort the, and the, you’re referring to my piece on CK and I have to plug it here, Robert bryce. please do com <laugh> robert bryce.subs.com, the billion. The piece was called the Billionaires Behind the Gas Bans. And I’m very pleased by the traction that had got ahead over 50,000 views. The, this, this effort to ban the prohibit the use of natural gas in homes and residences, has been incredibly effective. Give them credit. The Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Institute, and the affiliate organizations, including Climate Imperative, which is a brand new organization that has it wait for the number of new budget of 221 million at a stroke, they’re almost as big as the American Petroleum Institute, bigger than the Sierra Club have a, a bigger budget. And these are, one of, this is one of the groups pushing for this electrify everything push.

Speaker 2:

And yet no one knew about them. But this is part, no one heard about them until I reported on them. And I’m saying, not bragging, but that’s just the facts. But the, the, this is part of a very well funded, lavishly funded campaign that’s happened in multiple states, in multiple jurisdictions, at multiple levels that has been coordinated by this group, climate Imperative Foundation, the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Institute, give them credit — 60, over 60 communities in California have banned gas, the city of New York, city of Seattle, city of Los Angeles, and they want a national ban on the use of natural gas. Make no mistake, this is the objective.

Speaker 1:

Now, you and I both will agree that the climate is changing that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary reason. It is warming. So we’re not here to be climate deniers. And I think you may agree that natural gas we’ve always considered to be a, a, a relatively clean when compared with coal transitional fuel. That’s, it’s largely useful. And it doesn’t emit relatively speaking much in the way of CO2. How long has this movement against natural gas been going on? You cited a, a relatively new 2020 organization that’s already a 220 million in budget but it’s joined the ranks of the others that have predated. How, how long has this been going on this anti-natural gas movement?

Speaker 2:

Well, it began really in, in about 2020. And it was as a, as we said, a very well-funded and very well-conceived from the beginning. And that the Rocky Mountain Institute was one of the ones that came out with one of these early studies claiming negative health effects. Despite this preponderance of evidence, as you said, from this article in The Lancet, which had involved 500,000 children from four dozen different countries, a multi-year study had questionnaires to the mothers asking them about asthma symptoms, and they found no evidence. And yet, here we have this trumped up, in fact, I would say fictitious study claiming these, these asthma symptoms. And where was one of the first articles about this published in Legacy Media? It was in the Atlantic Monthly. Who owns Atlantic Monthly Lor, Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, who’s one of the biggest funders of the Climate Imperative Foundation, Lorraine Powell Jobs. I’m not claiming a conspiracy here, but there’s some things that sure look like this was very well coordinated, but it’s obvious now that the funding of this effort has been massive to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, all difficult to trace. None of these groups want to talk about it. They won’t come on my podcast. I’ve invited them. But this is a very secretive policy making effort that is done by NGOs that are not accountable when it comes to public policy.

Speaker 1:

So whereas I think those of us who are now looking at this antigas movement as sort of something that’s been hiding in plain sight compare it for our listeners who have many, perhaps either are attached to the idea that the world is run by a nefarious group of pro-oil advocates I’ll just mention the Koch Brothers as sort of the local bogeyman on that side. What is the relative size of the money behind, let’s say pro-fossil fuels, if you can call it that, relative to those who are now arrayed against natural gas?

Speaker 2:

Well, this is one of the most remarkable things, and you’re right, it’s, this is this trope that the left continues and climate activists keep to trotting out that somehow, oh, the evil Koch brothers, right? Which, but I repeat myself, of course, they’re evil, right? Never mind that they’ve been incredibly successful and their philanthropy is well known, but that they’re somehow moving these levers that are preventing action on climate change. The, the exact opposite is true, that in fact, when you look at and I in the piece, the, the billionaires behind the gas bans, I compare the top five nonprofit associations, the American Petroleum Institute, Nuclear Energy Institute, at American Gas Association, Western States Petroleum Society of Petroleum Engineers, together, their annual revenue in 2021 was roughly 530 million. Compare that with Climate Imperative, natural Resource Defense Council, Sierra Club, 1.5 billion. I mean, the amount of money that is being deployed behind these climate activist groups, it’s at least three to one.

Speaker 2:

It could be as high as six to one. I’m working on another article on the title is, I’ll Spoil The, the spoil the Surprise, the anti-Industry Industry. It’s massive. And they’re raising billions of dollars per year, totally dwarfing traditional, I’ll say traditional energy sources, which I’m saying are hydrocarbons and nuclear in terms of spending, in terms of media outreach, in terms of this professional managerial class that they’re, that they’re creating this revolving door between government and private industry and NGOs. It’s a very powerful and unaccountable sector of the US economy. And I would argue even Joe, that it’s an indication of the kind of decadence in American society that we’ve gotten to this point, or this unaccountable group that is, has so much money and so much power, and yet no one knows about them.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think of some of our listeners who are, let’s say, particularly concerned about climate change. I would consider myself concerned about climate change. But we have to say, okay, well, perhaps these are wonderful philanthropists who are just trying to do a good thing with their money. They’ve got quite a bit of it. They believe in a cause and they’re, they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Share with our listeners, who are some of these people you mentioned and Ms. Jobs the late Steve Jobs wife and others who Sure. Where’s this money coming from?

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well, so the, the, the ones that I cite in my article are Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York Jeff Bezos, of course, the, the founder, CEO of, or former CEO, I guess, of Amazon, John Doer, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and then Lorreen Powell Jobs. Michael Bloomberg gave, gifted something like $500 million to a group called Beyond Carbon. The biggest beneficiary there is the Sierra Club. They’re spending between 30 and 40 million a year of Bloomberg’s money to push their anti-hydrocarbon agenda, anti-nuclear agenda. Bezos made massive gifts that included a hundred million dollars to the NRDC, which was successful in closing the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, New York, which was, in my view, a near criminal act that, in that, in resulted in far greater CO2 emissions from the New York grid John Doer, one of the big funders of Climate imperative I’ve mentioned before, and Lorreen Powell jobs.

Speaker 2:

And here’s the part that to me, Joe, is just that this is indicative, it’s about class and not about climate change. Well, who are these people? Well, Bloomberg has 12 houses according to the piece that was in Vanity Fair on when he was New York, New York mayor. He was flying back and forth over the weekend to Bermuda, to his house in Bermuda on a private jet. Well, what, who’s he putting in the fuel tank? I’m guessing it wasn’t organic quinoa, Joe, I’m, I’m just guessing. And the Lorraine Powell jobs. What does she, well, she flies around the world in a Gulf Stream 650 that burns 500 gallons of jet fuel an hour. I mean, the average American vehicle uses about 600 gallons of gasoline a year. I mean, the math is simple. 30 gallon, 30 miles of gallon 15,000 miles a year. You know, something like that, right?

Speaker 2:

I mean, this, this is about class. This is, this is the billionaire class, the hyper elite, the super elite, hyper mobile elites wanting to pass policy that limits the ability of the poor and the middle class to be mobile and to use low cost fuels, including natural gas. And don’t finish with this one point, I know I’ve been talking a lot, but I, I cite data from the, the Department of Energy in October. They released their Winter fuels outlook, their own numbers. The Department of Energy numbers, not mine. Numbers, the numbers heating with electricity costs 46% more than heating with natural gas. This is a regressive tax that these, these billionaires are pushing. And I, this is just bad policy. And my dad told me a long time ago, the only fair tax is an income tax, and yet they want to tax energy and make the poor in the middle class pay more to heat their homes and wash their clothes and heat their, or heat their water and dry. It’s just wrong. It’s bad policy. And no one’s calling them out for it, except me. I want,

Speaker 1:

I want to, I want to drill down on that. No one’s calling em out for, it’s fascinating to me, because when I’ve run this story by others that I know, some of them lean a little bit towards the left, and I was met with scoffs, this is you know, I was told, I I’m, I’m the victim of a conspiracy theory. This is hooked out of, out of, out of nothing. You know I, I’m delusional. So I, I wanna focus on the story behind the story. Sure. Which is, if you say it’s, it’s, it’s the largest movement that nobody’s ever heard of. I wanna dial into a, a piece in the New York Times written only two years ago in 2021. It was about gas stoves. And I’ll I’ll quote from it quote, if you’ve been spooked by the stories urging you to kill your gas stove, because it co poses hidden dangers that are bad for you on the planet, you don’t actually need to freak out the gist of the argument. The article was that a gas stoves, just as you and I have been discussing, contribute, negligible de minimus to any kind of climate change once

Speaker 2:

Or health or health impacts,

Speaker 1:

Or health impact, right? Either when this story broke with Trumka statement that they’re going to regulate our stoves away the times added an editor’s addendum that said at the top of the article, it said the article’s called Should You Ditch Your Gas Stove? It says, since then, additional research has emerged demonstrating the environmental and health impacts of gas stoves. Notably, in December 22, 22 study found that 12.7% of childhood asthma cases could be attributed to gas stove use. This is in the New York kinds. This is right now, if we go and you look at it right now, they’re citing, you know, garbage study

Speaker 2:

Debunked, a debunked study, a

Speaker 1:

Debunked study, oh, debunk study study.

Speaker 2:

Right? And, and yet they’re, and they’re going back and amending an article that’s two years old. I mean, look

Speaker 1:

At, let, let me add one more piece.

Speaker 2:

Starting on the New York Times. I’m gonna go

Speaker 1:

<Laugh>. Well, it gets even better. So above the editor’s note is now a new piece, basically responding to the outrage you and I are expressing. It says in a previous update, we reported that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was considering a ban on new gas stoves. The C P S C released a statement clarifying it plans to strengthen voluntary safety standards on new gas stoves, but does not plan to ban them, which is to say, nothing new here, move along. We, we told you gas stoves were okay, then we told you they were not okay, and then we’re not gonna tell you they’re not okay. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Speaker 2:

Well, and this ignores the, the latest announcement that just came out in the last few days, Joe, from the Department of Energy, which is now considering a rule that would in fact, ban natural gas appliances in the home and natural gas furnaces. So, make no mistake, this is very, look, I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted a lot. <Laugh>. Okay,

Speaker 1:

<Laugh>, okay, that’s

Speaker 2:

Two of us. Let’s start on the baseline there. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. This is a lavishly funded, well-coordinated campaign that is years in the making that has hundreds of millions of dollars behind it that is coming from some of the richest people in the world. That is a fact. Those are the facts. And I’ll just add one quick thing here that’s j Jermaine to what you’re just saying, Joe, that right after this R M I paper came out one R m I official told the Washington Examiner, I’m quoting here that the study, the quote, does not assume or estimate a causal relationship between childhood asthma and natural gas stoves. Why isn’t that in the New York Times? I mean, here’s the RMI itself saying they’re walking it back and does not assume or estimate a causal relationship. And yet all the headlines are saying we this causing 12.7, not 12.6, not 12.8, 12.7% of childhood asthma.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, indeed. And then again, to, to address the, the, those hand waving our concerns away I’ll again, quote from your, your piece, your CK piece. Last August, the Sierra Club asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban all natural gas appliances at the federal level. The group has had success in getting bands adapted in California, according to its website, 69 communities in the state have now adopted gas free building commitments or electrification building codes. In September, the California Air Resource Board voted to ban the sale of all natural gas fired space heaters and water heating appliances in the state by 2030. In addition, New York City and Seattle have banned the use of gas in new construction. Massachusetts, where I’m sitting, is also rolling out a new measure that will allow up to 10 communities to ban gas. So it is not a conspiracy theory,

Speaker 2:

And I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, <laugh> <laugh>. But I, you know, look, Joe, I just, this is just, just remarkable to me in a, on a whole lot of levels that such an important bit of policy could go so underreported, particularly by legacy media outlets. And I’ve published, I’ve been in journalism my whole career. I’ve never had a real job. I’ve been a reporter for more than 30 years. <Laugh>, I’ve written for the Washington Post. I’ve written in my articles have appeared in the Washington Post, in the New York Times, in the Wall Street Journal. I know how these outfits work, but where is this, where is the skepticism on any of this, that the Washington Post would run an article, cling parroting this article, this, this survey from RMI and just assuming it’s right with no analysis, no deep, no, no deep work to say, well, is this even credible?

Speaker 2:

And instead we have this massive amount of media coverage around it. And then it’s proven just a few days later that there is an effort, a highly organized campaign. I’m not gonna call it conspiracy, cuz it sounds like a conspiracy to call it that in fact, they do wanna ban appliances that natural gas appliances. And the other part that we haven’t yet talked about, Joe, is maybe the most important part of this is if you’re going to ban the use of natural gas in homes, and you’re going to force consumers to not drive internal combustion vehicles and drive electric vehicles, you’re putting a massive amount of strain on the electric grid, which is already cracking under existing demand. And yet, that too is ignored in all of this foolishness. And I, that may be the thing that’s the most worrisome in terms of macro impacts here.

Speaker 2:

It was set aside the regress, very regressive nature of all of this policy. But you, you’re gonna put all of this demand on the grid. There’s no way it could handle the, the, the winter loads in particular, which you just saw, this huge cold front is slam New England and record cold temperatures. There’s no way we could, you, you and iso New England could produce enough power to keep everyone’s home homes and businesses warm because you, you have to rely on fuel, oil, natural gas, other things to keep, to stay warm safe in the winter. It’s dangerous policy on a very fundamental level.

Speaker 1:

And indeed, I think when people imagine you plug in or turn on your electric stove or plug, plug in your electric car, that that electricity comes from some magical place. But of course, it has to be produced. 3% of the global energy sources coming from renewable, only 10% in the U.S. from renewables. We, we get some from nuclear, but lar by and large, 70% from, from fossil fuels. So effectively, your, your electric car is also powered by, by coal. But even if it’s powered by natural gas, that natural gas has to produce the power, and then it has to be transmitted through the wires to your home and then converted back into heat. Right? the inefficiency of that com that transmission makes, ironically the gas stove, the climate preferred choice. So if we do indeed follow this path, we’re actually making the climate worse. What do you say to that?

Speaker 2:

It, it’s, that’s a really key point, Joe, and it’s one that is not repeated nearly enough and right. Until we get to a zero carbon grid, and by the way, the US in terms of overall primary energy consumption in the us we’re still at about 80 to 85% hydrocarbons. Right? The rest of it, in terms of primary energy,

Speaker 1:

I was talking about electric production. Yeah. You put in planes and trucks and Yeah.

Speaker 2:

But if we take the economy as a whole, we’re still 85% relying on hydrocarbons. The rest comes from hydro nuclear and, and, and, and renewables. But it’s far more efficient and from a CO2 perspective to use natural gas directly. And in fact I cite a, a new book by Glen Duckett, who’s a PhD nuclear engineer makes this very point that burning natural gas in a power plant and then transmitting that to your home in the form of electricity, you u you lose more than half of the heat energy in the original fuel. Far better to use that fuel directly from a CO2 standpoint than to use it indirectly to, you know, to bolster the point that you just made.

Speaker 1:

And indeed, and I’m sure there will be some listeners will say, look, these guys are just, they don’t care about the climate. They, they, they, they, they just want cheap power. But I would say you know, you, you, again, I’ve written I’ve read quite a bit of what you’ve read, you do have alternatives that you think would be far more effective. What, in your mind, I’d like to call this the, if you were king for a day, where should we be focusing our energy? If, if not on banning gas stoves? Where would our, our focus be better if we really are concerned about the climate?

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well, I’d like to be king for more than a day <laugh>, just to be clear. And if I were king, the first thing I would do is eliminate the designated hitter rule in baseball. If the pitcher is gonna play, the pitcher has to hit. I just think you, you know, if you’re gonna play on the field, you gotta hit, I’m sorry, you might strike out too bad. Go sit down. It’s okay with me. I don’t, you know, but

Speaker 1:

<Laugh>,

Speaker 2:

Energy, policy, energy and power, natural gas and nuclear, I’ve been saying the same thing for 13 years. I, I, my book, my fourth book, power Hungry, I make this very point, if we’re serious about reducing emissions, we need to look at the sources of energy that we can harness that are scalable, lower no carbon. The, the technologies are well proven, and the resources are, are global. And that is natural gas and nuclear natural gas. The supplies of gas available around the world are stagger the mine, the, we have more gas than we can, as my father used to say, than we could say grace over. It’s a staggering amount of gas that around the world today that is stranded. It should be developed and consumed. But then the other thing is nuclear energy. And, you know, you see this in New England where you battles over nuclear plants.

Speaker 2:

You cl you know, the, the criminal closure of Indian Point, Vermont, Yankee, those are plants that should be kept open, should have been kept open. And now we’re struggling in the US to build new power plants, new nuclear power plants. And, and yet the NRC is, is totally un unaccountable when it comes to this. We need, if we’re serious about, even if we’re not serious about climate change, we need to adopt nuclear because of the small footprint, small material intensity, or low material intensity. We need more electricity globally. There are 3 billion people in the world today who use less electricity on average on a per capita basis than what’s consumed by a, a kitchen refrigerator in the United States. Electricity, poverty is globally is, is rampant. We need more electricity so we can bring more people outta the dark, but we can’t do it all with hydrocarbons. We need nuclear energy and we need it now. But, you know, there’s a very strong component, including these NGOs, some of which I’ve already talked about, who are stridently anti-nuclear.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, indeed. And if you do want to build a nuclear power plant, or frankly, if you wanna bring a pipeline down from Canada, hydro Quebec and have water powered energy the person’s gonna stand your way is going to be a fellow environmentalist. So you know, it’s, one doesn’t have to be a cynic to see that this is not a pro climate, but rather anti power or anti-progress or anti prosperity. If you say we can’t use gas, but you don’t propose a viable alternative and you don’t incur to viable alternative, you’re really anti-energy. I think about nuclear, I’m, I’m a big fan of nuclear, I’ll say that comes largely. You know, I’m a veteran of the US Navy. There, there are many ships that have been around for 50 years. It’s a nuclear power plant on a giant piece of metal floating around in the ocean run by sailors. And it’s like, if, if, if we can do that clearly nuclear has a, a part to play in our non fossil fuel future. And yet were I to propose pro-nuclear environmentalists would have my head.

Speaker 2:

Well, and you make a good point. And the U.S. Navy has been by far the best nuclear operator in the world for decades. And they’ve proven over and over their ability to operate safely nuclear power plants. But, you know, let’s make no mistake that they’re, you know, the hurdles to the Navy is special, right? They have their own fuel supply. They can take their waste and put it in in New Mexico at the Waste Isolation Pilot project. Utilities can’t do that. So there are many hurdles that these NGOs have created, including around the, the handling of nuclear waste that have bottled up or, you know, have, have tied up the, the expansion of nuclear power in America. Is there reason to be hopeful? I, I, I think there is, Joe and I, I say this very cautiously, but there is increasing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Congress.

Speaker 2:

Will there be a bill that gets past this, this bill to reform the NRC, which I think is needed? I’m very skeptical that that will happen. But still, I think overseas, I think it may be that, and, and I’ve had many guests on the Power Hungry podcast talk about this. Nuclear may well have to succeed. The new regeneration of nuclear power may well have to succeed overseas, and particularly probably in Western Europe before it comes back and succeeds here in the us. And part of that is because we have low-cost natural gas. There’s not a big, as big a push. They’re not under the, you know, the potential thumb of Vladimir Putin, or we aren’t. And so it may be that nuclear has to succeed somewhere else before those small modular reactors, next generation reactors can come to the us.

Speaker 1:

Indeed, indeed. So we’re getting close to the end of our time together, and I appreciate your time. I, you, we’ve, we’ve just scratched the surface, I think, of many, many very complex and layered issues. Where can our listeners read more about where you write find your books? As you say, it’s not important that they read them, only <laugh> more important that they buy them. I, I love that line. That’s great. So where can our listeners learn more and perhaps become more, more informed about these topics? Well,

Speaker 2:

Thanks. So absolutely. I’m on ck. I’ve recently switched Tock, and along with you mentioned Roger pki Jr. Who I great admiration for Robert bryce.dot com. I’m on the web as well, robert bryce.com. I’m on Twitter at Power Hungry PW R Hungary. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on YouTube. I’m, I’m hard to miss Joe. So people look for me, they can find me pretty well. But I, I, I’m passionate about these issues. This is what I do in my life. This is my calling to talk about energy, power and what it means for low, and particularly for low and middle income people. And I’ll end with this. Is this, that who are my people? I’m the people. I’m, I’m for the people who turn wrenches. Those are my people. Those are the people I feel called to represent, and they’re underrepresented in our policymaking circles. And I wanna speak up for them.

Speaker 1:

Indeed. I, I think I share your passion for those who are, are not in the email, let’s say media elite. We wanna have the rest of the story. And frankly there’s a lot of it out there. So I really appreciate your time. Thank you for joining me on hub Long Today, Robert. I really, I wish you good luck with your, your podcast, your Energy Hun Hungry podcast, and your future writing any books you have in the in the works.

Speaker 2:

That’s very kind. Thanks, Joe. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

This has been another episode of Hub Wonk. If you enjoyed today’s show, there are several ways to support Pioneer Institute and Hub Wonk. It would be easier for you and better for us. If you subscribe to Hub Won on your iTunes podcatcher, it would make it easier for others to find Hub Wonk if you offer a five star rating or a favorable review. We’re always grateful if you share Hub Wonk with friends. If you have ideas or suggestions or comments for me regarding future episode topics, you’re welcome to email me at hub wonk pioneer institute.org. Please join me next week for a new episode of Hub Wonk.

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