Recorded between the 2020 Republican & Democrat National Conventions, Tom Pyle, President of The Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance, shares insights regarding energy issues that are important to consider before you vote. Listen as he discusses with Linda the differences in energy policy proposals, and the impact they may have on your life and livelihood. Using California as a real-time example, he discusses how mismanaged energy policies are impacting citizens with dangerous blackouts in the midst of heatwaves and wildfires. Will your state be next? Be an informed energy voter. Listen today!
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Linda J Hansen: Thank you for tuning in. In the age of COVID-19, where almost all meetings are virtual, we know that technology can sometimes present challenges. Technology challenges did affect this episode a bit, so I ask for your patience as there may be a few spots where the sound quality is not as high as in a typical episode. But I hope you’ll enjoy the content in this insightful conversation, with our guest, Tom Pyle. Thank you. Thank you for joining us today. I do have a repeat guest. A very good friend, Tom Pyle, Tom is the president of the American Energy Alliance, and he's also president of the Institute for Energy Research, both located in Washington, D. C. He brings a unique background of public and private sector experience to help manage both organizations. And, uh, he has insights into the energy world that I thought would be so timely as we look at, deciphering, really what is what both sides are offering in terms of the, political platforms. We're recording this right in between two political conventions. And as we look at blackouts occurring in sections of the country, this has to do with energy policy. And as we think forward to what we want for America, and America's energy independence, going forward. So, with that, I'll ask Tom to, to share a little bit about his background about the organizations, and we'll get into our conversation. But thank you, Tom, for joining us again on the Prosperity 101™, podcast and welcome.
Tom Pyle: Thank you so much for having me back on. It's great to hear your voice. Yeah, just a real quick background. I've spent way too many years in Washington, D. C, first on the hill in various offices, and I spent a lot of time and leadership in the House of Representatives, which was amazing experience. From there, I joined a major energy company and did their federal relations for about five years, and I was itching to be more involved in sort of public policy from a more intellectual or, ideological perspective. It's true for energy research. An organization that's been around for a while, but, was in search of moving their headquarters to Washington D.C. Started doing work with them and low and behold, kind of became the president a few months later. And then, because research and, and public policy analysis is really important. At the institute, that's what we do there. We analyze policies, we analyze what's going on in the State houses, what people are talking about with respect to energy. But then I formed the American Energy Alliance, which is an advocacy arm. And it is a sister organization to IER. And that is, I believe, more important because the institute obviously informs what the alliance advocates, and the alliance reaches out to folks and tries to get them to explain these complicated issues in a way that they understand but more importantly, give them the tools to be part of the process. And that's really what, AEA does well, I believe we give your listeners, people around the country, the knowledge and the know how to be able to engage their elected representatives. And so, it's only energy focused. And, it allows us to really sort of deep dive on this really, really critical issue for the economy.
Linda: That's really important. And thank you so much for sharing all that and helping our listeners to understand what you do. And, the organization purpose. We are really grateful that you do that because energy is so critical to all of us. I was sharing with you before we were recording, just, different things that have happened within the country. We were talking about the blackouts or brownouts in California. And as we look at energy policy presented by both, the Republican and the Democrat, platforms at their conventions. Could you explain, the differences? And then as we think about what's happening in California right now, how did they get there and what policies would help them?
Tom: Sure. Well, I think that the best way to explain the differences is to explain which, how they view the importance of energy as it relates to the economy. How it relates to our national interests. Our influence abroad. If you look at, President Trump's, and the Republican Party platform, they’ve embraced domestic energy production, they understand that a vibrant, robust American energy industry is critical to a strong economy. We don't compete around the country on labor. We've always been able to compete because we have an abundant supply of affordable and reliable energy to make our electricity into power, our transportation. What the other side would like to do is they would like to restrict to use the production of those resources here. There is a very strong bias against three, the three energy sources that provide 80% of our total energy, that is natural gas, coal and oil. They want us to move away from those resources and onto, what they call renewable or clean or green. Mainly wind and solar for electricity production. And they want to electrify the transportation system, which, of course, puts much more heavy… it makes it wouldn't make require us to use a lot more electricity. It is about to me; it is about choice and control. One side would like us to be able to choose our energy sources. One side would like us to produce stores, energy resources at home to make us more independent for energy. And one side would like to choose for us the energy sources that we're allowed to use and would like to control the use and the types of vehicles we want to drive etcetera. So, it's really about choice and freedom and free markets versus power and control and centralized sort of planning. It's really that basic. If you look at the platform, now happy to get into specifics, obviously. But on a very macro level, it really comes down to that, one is a believer in the industry, the industries and the marketplace and us as consumers. And the other platform, the Democratic platform wants us to get off of those resources and wants to decide for us, you know what we drive and how we power our homes and businesses.
Linda: Thank you for explaining that. It's so true. As we think about, the different energy sources that are available and what has happened in the last few years in this current administration regarding our ability to become energy independent, to me, it is so encouraging and just so wonderful for our economy, for jobs around the country and for our national security to have us, be independent of foreign nations when it comes to our need for critical energy supplies, that has been something I have hoped for, and you and I have talked about for years and years that we've wanted to see that. And now America has achieved the ability to become energy independent, and I don't understand why people would want to go backwards. It, like you, said, it's about control and deciding what we can or can't use. Could you, talk a little bit about the concerns people have regarding the environment and oil, gas? We know that so many people call those, you know, evil bad to the environment things. But there are just amazing, research and development, things that have proven that this can be done in a very clean, environmentally friendly manner and still provide us with the incredible stability of our energy grid. Could you address that?
Tom: Yeah, I'm happy to. And it's a subject that I enjoy talking about because there's a lot of emotion and there's a lot of misinformation out there about different energy sources on both sides of the sort of conversation, if you will. Is oil and gas production ever going to be 100% risk free? Will there ever be another spill? Yeah, there will be. Are there explosion sometimes at refineries or on some other factories? If you will. Sure, there are. However, batteries, if we're to replace the entire automobile fleet with electric vehicles, where on earth would we put all of the waste from the batteries? As you know, batteries contain a lot of toxic materials. There isn't really…that isn't really discussed when we talk about electric vehicles, for example. Where are we going to put all of these windmills in order to replace the energy that is derived because I mentioned 80% from the three sources that, are often demonized by the by the environmental community. The amount of land that it would take to replace those energy sources for our electricity generation, it's unfathomable. The energy outputs from one offshore natural gas rig. Well, it's about the equivalent of the state of Rhode Island in terms of the land mass. That would be needed for the equivalent amount of energy production from windmills. Solar panels. Windmills have a tremendous impact on wildlife. If you care about migratory birds, if you care about eagles and condors, you know, that is an environmental impact as well. So, I guess the main thing that I would say is, every way that we produce energy has upsides and downsides. There's no doubt about it. Everybody should want to maximize the upside and minimize the downsides. And that is how energy policy should be. We should be for all of these energy sources, for the very values that they provide us. Now, a lot of the organization of these resources also is tied into the issue, is climate change or our C)2 emissions carbon dioxide ignitions specifically? And I want to address that as well. Climate changes, absolutely all through history. The climate has changed. There's a big discussion about what role we have in that, we can set that aside as whether or not we agree or not. But we can also look at the evidence that freer energy policies that support the industry and support us as consumers has really been an absolute boom in terms of CO2 reduction as well. The previous President, Vice President Biden, while he was Barack Obama’s vice president, they wanted to saddle our industry with regulations that would have deliberately, and that was a campaign promise, by the way of President Obama, bankrupt coal competence, for example. They wanted to engage the United States in an international agreement that would have put all kinds of restrictions on our energy use with none in China, for example, they've settled the industries with duplicative regulations that basically did nothing other than just add to the cost of doing business. They wanted to put all of this in place. And the Trump administration made promises in 2016 that they wanted to go in a different direction and spent a lot of time undoing those rules. My point is, that while this was taking place, the United States not only became the leader in both natural gas and oil production, but by far since 2005 by a landslide, our CO2 emissions have gone down in this country, so it feels… if reducing CO2 emissions is a goal, we have done that we’re the world leader in emission reduction at the same time that we have increased our production, and became the world leader in production. So yes, you can have both. And I argue that free markets and supporting these industries, is actually better for the environment, then the command and control, you know, approach that the environmental community and the Democratic Party would like to take.
Linda: Free markets allow for innovation and research and development, and we can continue to, improve our processes. And so free markets allow for that. And that is, I believe why America, has been able to reduce our emissions. And we, like you, said, we lead the world in that, and, we can be the envy of the world. In a sense, in how we have become energy independent and have used our resources wisely. I think you bring up a good point that every energy source has risks, and there are always, downsides that people don't talk about. Like, even solar. There are risks, there's the production of the solar panels. There's what happens to them later. Like what you do with them when they're of no use anymore. There's always waste. There's always a production cost. There's always a production process that creates some sort of friction, shall I say, with clean energy. I mean, there is always an upside and a downside. You were so good at bringing that out. And one of the things that I think we need to focus on too as we look at the instability of, say, the energy use and ability to have reliable energy in California. Right now, we need to look seriously at the stability of the grid. And if we look back at these renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we know that they are not solid. The sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow. It's an up and down cycle and often times it costs more, and it creates more, pollution, in a sense, to have this ridiculous up and down flow where we have to exert extra energy to bring the grid to a stable level. So, when we can have consistent energy that is reliable and clean, whether it's oil, gas, whether it's nuclear, coal, and if we want to use renewables as part of it, that's fine. But we need to have a reliable grid, and that's a matter of national security and a matter of health, safety. I know I was just sharing with someone earlier today when there were some problems with electricity where my mom lives. She's on oxygen. A lot of people rely on electricity to live, whether it's a dialysis machine, an oxygen machine, whatever, we need to have reliable energy. We just look at this. It's health, national security, the ability to produce, businesses need reliable energy. How is this affecting all the businesses who are trying to produce and operate in California right now?
Tom: Yeah. Linda you bring up a couple of points I wanted to before I get into the California situation, because it really is worth unpacking. Another example when we talk about solar panels, cobalt, rare earth minerals. Okay, a lot of these renewables require massive amounts of cobalt and other rare or important minerals, with them for batteries, etcetera. And when you talk about energy independence, with our oil and gas production and our ability – and wind is another important component, we've got a lot of wind. And we should be using that resource here at home. But you know, cobalt is mined largely in Africa, where there have been reports of child labor and really just horrific working conditions to mine that resource. The other factor is that China, communist China, the government of China controls almost the entire market for rare minerals. For a whole host of reasons, they have some…they have plenty of on there, you know, in their country. But another reason is that we don't do it here because of the same folks who don't want us to use coal, oil and natural gas also don't want us to mine for these rare earth minerals. And so… the policy that deliberately cuts off our own God given natural resources. And we're the… also have underneath our lands and shores the richest deposits of these resources than anywhere in the world, including Russia, to one where we become dependent on China for our energy. That is really what the sort of transition would be and they call it a clean energy transition. But really, it's a dependency on China transition. And so, I thought I would kind of address that before I got into California a little bit.
Linda: Thank you for doing that, because people I think I need to understand the implications to our national security. I think the COVID crisis has awakened some people to the dangers of being dependent on foreign nations, especially hostile foreign nations for essential medicines or resources. So, we need to bring this back to the U. S. And have policies that allow us to be truly, truly independent, and then we can share with the world. But we can do so in a way that protects our citizens. We have laws against child labor, like you're talking about is happening in China. We can do so in a way that protects people, does so safely and protects our national security. So, thank you very, very much for bringing that up. Especially now that China's such a hot topic in the sense that more and more people are understanding that our dependence on China for so many essentials is very dangerous to our national security, to our health, to the well-being of our nation and our citizens. So, thank you for bringing that up.
Tom: Yeah, and I mean, we just … most of our environmental laws and a lot of our energy policy was written as a response to the Arab oil embargo in the early seventies. We've spent decades trying to reduce our dependence OPEC in the Middle East for our energy. And we finally achieved that status just in the last couple of years. Why would we want to throw that away and then and then resume being independent this time on China? With all that you mentioned and everything going on there. So, it just befuddles me that we're even having this conversation in some cases. But what we are and people need to understand that. So, California, is an interesting experiment, if you will, and really, it is a foreshadow. If you like what's happening in California with respect to energy policy, electricity prices, gasoline prices, everything else, then this is really what will happen at a national level if the sort of pro green new deal folks take the White House in November. And let's unpack it if you will, Californians pay the highest gasoline prices in the country. They just recently surpassed Pennsylvania for their highest state gas tax, which is a big piece of that. Californians enjoy the highest electricity prices in the nation, and I use that term loosely. California pays 40, I think 40 or 50% more, for electricity than any of their adjoining neighbors, for example. And California has been suffering under these deliberate blackouts for lack of electricity generation. The state of California for the past decade or so, accelerated at least in the past decade has embarked on a campaign to eliminate all of their electricity generation from coal and nuclear and, to some extent, natural gas. Although they have to admit that they have to… they can’t wipe that out as swiftly as they would like precisely because, as you mentioned, Linda, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. And those electricity sources usually peak, in terms of their generation, at times when the users, electricity users aren’t peaking… and peak generation are completely out of whack in California. And when they have had a situation that they've had with more people using electricity, they can't… they usually were able to buy it from…imported from their neighbors, Arizona in particular. But Arizonans and Nevadans are saying, “Well, we can't spare any California, because we need it for our folks. And we certainly aren't gonna let our folks suffer under rolling blackouts. So sorry.” And this is where they are today. They have prematurely closed nuclear plants. They have pre prematurely closed coal plants. They have basically hastened in the development of natural gas plants. They've tried to shut down to the extent that they can the production of oil in California. Which lot of people don't know that that prior to the shale revolution, they were in the top three energy producing states in the country. They've got a lot of oil and natural gas. They import nearly 50% of their oil from the Middle East. And I think it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% overall imports from other countries around the world. But I think it's close to half in the Middle East. The point is, this they’re a mess there, a complete and total mess. My mother lived in California. We lived in California for many years, and I went to college there. They left after they retired 2-3 summers ago because they got sick of being nickeled and dimed to death. They moved to Nevada, where they're enjoying, you know, themselves a lot more, and they're paying through the nose just for everyday living expenses, and they don't have to suffer through these rolling blackouts, and that's critical. If you're on, it's like you said, if you're on life support, if you're on dialysis, if you need electricity for you know, I mean, we all need it. We obviously have come to depend on it, but some of us absolutely need it to live. And this is the Green New Deal coming to life in the state of California, and it's completely avoidable. And it's a lot of it is a result of these ridiculous policies that have been put forth and imposed on the state over the past decade or so.
Linda: Thank you so much for unpacking that for our listeners. I think people sometimes, you know, they're busy with their lives. They watch the news and they think “What's happening?” But there's so much behind the scenes. And like I say in every episode, I think ideas have consequences. Leadership matters, policy matters. These things have enormous implications for all citizens. And as we've seen in the past, a lot of times, what happens in California tends to spread around the country with these crazy ideas that don't work. But they get some sort of following, and we just all end up suffering for them. So now is the time for people to pay close attention. And I really recommend that if anybody is listening and they'd like some more information about these policies or how they can talk to their elected officials about the policies, could you give the website, please for both organizations that you represent, Tom?
Tom: Instituteforenergyresearch.org . A little bit long, but we couldn't get IER, someone owns it. And then americanenergyalliance.org as well. So just the name of the organization dot org. I really encourage your folks to go on to AEA’s page in particular, AmericanEnergyAlliance.org and sign- up, because a lot of the information, that we put on there comes from IER. But the AEA page also gives your listeners the ability to weigh in, you know, to kind of get informed. And then say, you know, I don't really want that for my state. I think I'll, you know, do this call to action or whatever. Right? So, they can, not only be informed, but also express their right and be engaged in the process as well.
Linda: That's really helpful. Thank you for doing that. It's such a critical time. And for our listeners, you know, we always talk about the foundations of prosperity. The policies of prosperity and how to protect your prosperity by becoming informed, involved and impactful. And for employers out there, please, please help your employees understand how energy policy impacts your business. Would you like to address that just a little bit, Tom? Like how employers could help their employees be more educated about this, but also just what this means to business growth overall?
Tom: Sure. I mean, look, you know, affordable and reliable domestic energy means more prosperity for American families and more opportunities for American businesses, especially manufacturing. And we know there's a soft spot in my heart for manufacturing because we basically exported our manufacturing base, you know for many, many years, and sort of outsourced it to places like China where, for example, they have a… basically have a monopoly on the production of masks, for example, pharmaceuticals. I think they…we import 80% of our garlic from China, for example. And I think that we kind of lost sight of the fact that, we should have these businesses here. They're great jobs, they’re high paying jobs, and they help with our security. We aren’t anti-environment when we say we need affordable and reliable energy, we're gonna have all these other sources. But those other sources are not dependable. You can't run a hospital. You can't run a business if you're not guaranteed that you’re going to have…and we've always enjoyed this, Linda, as you know. When on the rare cases where storms not got our power, we stop and realize just how important those always being… having the lights on is in our lives, right when we don't have it, is when we recognize that we are, you know, how important it is for us. And the more that you make it less reliable and the more expensive you make it, the less incentive we have of taking a risk to start, businesses… you know, bringing manufacturing back. In our daily lives, in our family lives, if you know, everyone pays a certain amount of money for their energy. Whether it's to fill their gas tank or to run their electricity. It's embedded into the cost of all the goods and services that we buy and enjoy. That energy gets more and more expensive, that takes away our ability to do other things and especially hits the poor the hardest and minorities the hardest. Because the lower economic… the folks in the lower economic ladders pay a much higher percentage of their overall income, their overall budgets on energy. So, we need… we can do it all. We can have affordable energy. We can produce it here at home. And, as you said, the market, free markets encourage the most innovation and the biggest advances in technology. And that is where you get your gains on the environment as well. So, there's no reason why we can't have it all. This dehumanization of mainly coal, oil and natural gas is a very wrong headed, you know, way to think about it.
Linda: Thank you for that. That's so true. And so again for our listeners, please go to instituteforenergyresearch.org and americanenergyalliance.org and you will find information that will help you to be more informed as you prepare to vote this fall. Please share the information with others, please share this podcast with others. It is so important for people to be informed before they make their decisions. I think especially in this election, a lot of people are voting by emotion at times. There's a lot of the emotion at this time in our country on both sides of the fence. And we need to really look a little bit under the hood at what the policies are and think through how we want our lives to look four years from now, eight years from now, twelve years from now. The decisions we make at the ballot box this year will impact our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren for generations. So not just in the area of the energy, but in all policy areas. Please pay attention. And I'm really thankful to you, Tom, and for your organizations And for all that work with you so that you can provide such great information for, citizens who really want to learn more and make an informed vote. So, thank you for that.
Tom: Absolutely. I really, really enjoyed it. And have me back any time.
Linda: Alright. Well, thank you. And for our listeners, here's a little tidbit. I called Tom off of vacation of it for this. So, thank you very much for doing this. I just felt the time was so important, given that were sandwiched basically in between the two political conventions. And, we're looking at what's happening environmentally and with energy, things in California. We didn't even touch on the wildfires and what that means, but that's a whole oother issue. We will bring you back to talk about all of that another time. But, I thank you so much time for taking time. Thank you for supporting Prosperity 101™ with your time and your energy and your insight. And, we look forward to having you back again.
Tom: Very excited. Thank you so much. And you guys, you have a great day.
Linda: You, too. Thank you so much. Thank you for our listeners as well.
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