Snappy answers to energy questions
This election season candidates are getting lots of energy-related questions. Here are pro-freedom, pro-human answers to some of the most popular ones. Alex Epstein
♦ What’s your policy on energy, environment, and climate?
I believe in energy freedom: the freedom to use all forms of energy, with laws against emissions and practices that are significantly harmful and reasonably preventable.
5 key energy freedom policies are:
1. Liberate responsible development
2. End preferences for unreliable electricity
3. Reform air and water emissions standards to incorporate cost-benefit analysis
4. Reduce long-term CO2 emissions via liberating innovation
5. Decriminalize nuclear¹
♦ Do you believe in climate change?
I believe in climate change, not climate catastrophe.
The world has warmed ~1° C in the last 170 years. Humans have some influence. But because we are so good at mastering climate, climate disaster deaths fell 98% over the last century.²
♦ Are you a “climate denier”?
I’m a climate thinker.
I recognize that climate is ever-changing, that humans have some influence, and that humans with plentiful energy can master virtually any climate. That’s why, as CO2 levels have gone up, climate disaster deaths have plummeted.
♦ What’s your plan to deal with CO2 emissions?
My plan is:
1. Recognize that CO2 emissions reduction can only be achieved humanely and practically a) long-term and b) through developing globally cost-competitive alternatives.
2. Liberate nuclear and other promising alternatives.
♦ Why did gasoline prices get so high this year?
While multiple factors, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, played a role, the fundamental cause is US and international anti-oil policies that prevent supply from rapidly increasing to meet demand.³
♦ Why don’t oil and gas companies drill more despite record profits?
Oil and gas would like to profit much more from currently high prices but it is difficult to increase drilling short-term under the present regulatory regime and investors are scared about more government punishment.⁴
♦ Why is Europe in a far worse energy crisis than we are?
Europe has taken anti-fossil-fuel policies further. For example, while we have allowed fracking to produce abundant energy Europe has largely banned it.
With the “Inflation Reduction Act” we are getting closer to Europe.⁵
♦ Do you believe in “all of the above?”
No, I believe in “always the best.”
We should always use the best form of energy for the job. E.g., we don’t use animal dung for energy in the US, even though it’s “one of the above.”
The best source of energy in any situation is what business and consumers choose as best on a free market with reasonable anti-pollution laws.
If something can’t compete on these terms then we shouldn’t use it—whether it’s animal dung, solar, or wind.
♦ What’s your position on solar and wind?
Solar and wind should be required to compete on a real market. In the context of electricity that means generators using solar and wind should be held to the same reliability standards as everyone else. Currently they’re not—which is disastrous.⁶
The root cause of our grid’s reliability problems is simple: America is shutting down too many reliable power plants—plants that can be controlled to produce electricity when needed in the exact quantity needed. And it is attempting to replace them with unreliable solar and wind.
♦ What’s your position on nuclear power?
Nuclear power is an extremely promising technology that is uniquely safe and clean, and has the potential to be cost-effective.
Tragically, nuclear has been nearly criminalized by governments. We need radical reform to decriminalize it.⁷
♦ What’s your position on electric vehicles?
Electric vehicles are a valuable product for certain people but not yet cost-effective for the vast majority of us. Let electric vehicles compete on a free market; don’t in any way pressure anyone to use them before 1) they can afford them and 2) the grid can handle them.⁸
♦ What’s your position on the “Inflation Reduction Act”?
It’s a 4-step recipe for ruining US energy:
1. Make us more dependent on unreliable electricity
2. Impose new oil and gas taxes during an energy crisis
3. Give EPA more power to restrict fossil fuels
4. Give more power to anti-fossil-fuel activists⁹
♦ How does the Inflation Reduction Act affect my state?
The Inflation Reduction Act got passed in large part by offering various payoffs to various states. Whatever benefit you get from those payoffs pales in comparison to higher energy costs, an unreliable grid, and a worse economy.¹⁰
♦ Do you believe in taking money from fossil fuel companies?
I believe candidates should proudly take money from fossil fuel companies if they and the company support energy freedom policies.
Fossil fuel companies are essential to the survival of 8 billion people for the foreseeable future.
For More on this from Alex Epstein
- EnergyTalkingPoints.com: Hundreds of concise, powerful, well-referenced talking points on energy, environmental, and climate issues.
- My new book Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less.
- Speaking and media inquiries