Swimming upstream, or against the current, is typically not beneficial unless you are salmon. Yet, we often do so when it comes to public policy, and this is quite evident in energy policy. We have reliable, clean, affordable, and safe energy...
Swimming upstream, or against the current, is typically not beneficial unless you are salmon. Yet, we often do so when it comes to public policy, and this is quite evident in energy policy. We have reliable, clean, affordable, and safe energy resources and technology, yet we insist on promoting, subsidizing, and mandating technologies that are less reliable and efficient. How can we stabilize our energy grid while using all relevant technologies to maximize benefits for consumers, businesses, and our nation? Wayne B. Stoltenberg, Linda’s guest, has decades of experience in the energy industry and is Chairman of the Institute for Policy Innovation. His common-sense policy recommendations provide win-win solutions for creating a secure and prosperous future.
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Linda J. Hansen: Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakthrough Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen, your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com.
I seek to connect boardroom to the breakroom and policy to the paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs. My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests, and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com.
Thank you so much for joining me today. In most aspects of life, having a firm grasp of the fundamentals is critical for good decision-making and success. While we may not like the fact that water tends to flow downhill, anyone wanting to swim upstream better take that fact into consideration before venturing into the water. As governments and companies seek to transition away from fossil fuels towards various types of renewable energy sources, it would be a good idea to take a step back and reflect on some energy fundamentals. Otherwise, they are swimming upstream. Those comments are taken directly from an article first published in the Dallas Morning News and written by my guest today, Wayne Stoltenberg.
Wayne Stoltenberg is a former Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of Vine Energy Inc. and is Chairman of the Dallas-based Institute for Policy Innovation. I first met Wayne when I served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Herman Cain's presidential campaign. And Wayne served on our Energy Policy Advisory Team. He was wonderful to work with then, and he is wonderful to work with now. And, Wayne, I welcome you. Thank you so much for bringing your years of energy experience to the podcast today and for taking time for the interview. Welcome.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Happy to do it, and great to get reacquainted. Those are some fun days working for Mr. Cain. I know he's a man that we both admire greatly.
Linda J. Hansen: Very much so. Before we were recording, we were just talking about how much we miss him, his wisdom, his sense of humor, and how it was just great to work with him, and we get to meet great people. So, I'm so glad to reconnect with you. Thank you for taking time for this interview. I really wanted to have you on because you have extensive experience in the energy industry, and you are really kind of sounding the alarm about this rush towards renewables that really is not advantageous for citizens or nations. So, could you add a little bit more insight into what you were sharing in this article about swimming upstream?
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Sure, I'd be happy to do that. And again, I'm not anti-renewables or anti-wind, anti-solar, anti-geothermal, or any of the like, but fossil fuels, again, mankind began adopting them in the 1850s, and there's a reason they did because fossil fuels– I'm talking about oil, coal and natural gas in particular–they're very energy dense. You have a lot of energy in a small space, and you can say the same about uranium, which arguably isn't a fossil fuel. They're easy to store. You can store it and use it when you need it, and also, it's very easy to transport. So, it's energy dense, easy to store, and easy to transport, and those three things are extremely important. They're also very fun worldwide. That sort of goes without saying.
But if you think about wind and solar, it'll focus on those with respect to renewables because, again, geothermal or water at altitude, again, they're very geographical-specific and have those all over the place. And wind and solar are naturally diffuse–and you just don't have a lot of energy in one spot. You've got to gather it and spend a lot of money doing that. And your wind and solar only generate electricity, can't really use them for transportation applications other than charging a battery. So, again, they're naturally diffuse. They are very–and the electricity they generate is challenging. You've got to transport it over large distances and then you can't really store it.
I mean, battery technology on a grid-scale, I'm not talking about a core or in a nine-volt or something, but battery on a grid scale. If you look at and you can go to your local kind of grid operator in Texas that we have, ERCOT, and you say, "Gosh, I wonder how much batteries are contributing, say, at night when the wind is not blowing a lot and there's not any sun, and it's extremely small." If you look at New England where they have this latest cold snap, how much are batteries contributing? Very little. We are light years away. We're a long way away from having grid-scale battery reliability. And given that you can't store it, unfortunately, again, the sun only shines half the day, best case, and the wind is not always blowing, so you're going to have to build a dual–you've got to build parallel infrastructure for a grid. Okay, you build one for wind and solar, but you've got to have at least as much capacity, if not more in reliables because, again, wind and solar can go to zero at any time.
So, you have to make sure you got 100% backup for whatever you would expect the max grid load to be. And people talk about, "Well, gosh, you know, wind and solar are free." Well, actually they're not because you got to build that parallel infrastructure. And last I checked, the fixed costs associated with building that count, too. It's not just, again, the incremental cost. And then lastly, I'd say no sane person running a business would pay the same amount for a worker that only shows up half the time. And you're not exactly sure when they're going to show up, but when they do, you're happy to pay them.
You're not going to pay as much for that person as reliable Linda Hansen, who works 12 hours a day and is going to be there at her desk all the time cranking it out. You're going to pay more for Linda Hansen than Fred Smith over here, not the next guy, but let's say Fred who doesn't have the best attendance record in the world. And unfortunately, we subsidize unreliables–I'm going to call them unreliables, say wind and solar. We pay the same price, if not quite frankly, more for those than we do for reliable energy, and that's really backward. You wouldn't do that. Again in a commodity business, you would pay more for a reliable source of supply.
So, that's really what I was trying to address in that article. And lastly, what we really should be working on is not installing more wind and solar. It's working on battery technology. And once you got battery technology to the point where you can store it as you can at, say, an automobile level, okay, that sort of makes a whole lot more sense. Granted with cars, there's a range. There's the time it takes to charge. There are other issues associated with electric vehicles. But again, having a battery that can certainly get you several hundred miles is not the problem. The technology hasn't advanced far enough to have something that will run a grid for 2 hours, let alone 2 weeks. We're not there. We're a long way away from it.
Linda J. Hansen: Those are such good points, and you talk about reliability. I really liked it that you mentioned a business owner would not spend money on the same employee who is reliable versus nonreliable. And what I try to do is help employers educate employees about the policy issues that affect their jobs. A lot of times employees and people all over the country who think about, "Oh, we must go with renewables. It's green. It's saving the planet and it's cheaper." It actually is not cheaper. It's not as dependable. It is not necessarily green because of how we have to get the rare earth minerals and everything to create the batteries, to even how we dispose of used solar panels or used windmills, or what the environmental impact is to creating a solar farm or a windmill farm.
These are all things that it sounds all good on the surface, but just like you mentioned in that article, we could be swimming upstream and flapping our fins to try to swim up, but we don't–we really don't get anywhere. So, we kind of go around in circles. So, this–there's a concept of the stable grid, making sure that we have all of the energy sources available so we have a stable grid is so important. You're in Texas, maybe you could explain, too I mean, the nation watched in horror. Was it the 2021 when the deep breeze in Texas hit and the windmills couldn't turn, and so many Texas people were without power? And now Texans are experiencing so many brownouts, blackouts. Explain to us what the problem is there and how we can avoid that in other states.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Happy to do that. Because first of all, you're absolutely right. Having a lot of renewables, your generation mix does cost more. Now, people will refute that, but please show me one–again, part of the world where renewables have been deployed, where there was a stable fossil fuel-based grid infrastructure, where it's reduced cost. Please show me one. Not a study, but please show me one. I mean, Europe, looking again what has happened there, obviously renewal, they spent an inordinate amount of money on wind and solar in northern Europe, having been there, not the sunniest place in the world, but again, they've deployed an awful lot. And again, when Russia cut off their gas supply, which was, I'd argue, pretty foreseeable. Andrea Merkel–love her–East German Gal should have known how the Russians think about things and will use natural resources as a dependency, as a weapon. Again, they were paying over $100 at a million MMBtu, the units we used to sell gas–$100, where over here in the States, it was $5 or $6.
Now, granted, prices have come down a little bit over there, but gosh, by deploying all these renewables, they really–again, they weren't able to deliver what people thought or what they were promised. And again, to get natural gas from sources other than Russia was extremely expensive. So, again, I use that because that's sort of fresh in everybody's minds. In Texas back in February of '21, unfortunately, again, Texas has deployed an awful lot of wind and solar. Not necessarily all bad, but in challenging conditions, particularly in the winter. Again, when it's really cold, solar is not going to deliver a lot. Sun is low in the horizon, even if it is sunny. And again, it wasn't sunny because we were getting a lot of snow. So, solar was doing next to nothing. Yet wind, when you have ice storms, the turbines will freeze and also the grease you use to lubricate them, that will freeze.
So, again, they tend to put out very little power. And we had spent, we, as ERCOT is the Texas kind of grid operator of record or at least the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is what the acronym stands for. We had way too much, in my opinion, wind and solar in the mix. They went to zero or close to zero.
And we had not spent what we should have spent on winterizing against some of our natural gas plants. So, the gas lines going into the gas plants weren't insulated. There always is a little bit of water in those streams. They froze. And also some equipment in gas-producing fields had not been properly winterized. I'd argue we spent too much money trying to push wind and solar because that again, does cost money to deploy, had not properly maintained and winterized our natural gas fleet. Again, a lot of that went down and again, we had rolling blackouts again all over the place. Lived through it.
We were, at that time, I was at Vine Energy. We were trying to take the company public. We're in the midst of all of our SEC documentation and the like. Our office was shut down for 8 or 9 days. Power would be on for 2 or 3 hours and be off for 4 hours. You'd run your–fortunately, we have a gas fireplace. Kept the house, at least kept the main room warm. Folks' pipes froze. Extremely expensive. Hundreds of people actually died due to exposure. It was a real mess, and something you'd expect in a third-world country, not in the state of Texas where we've gone, again, abundant natural resources. And you'll hear folks say, "Well, it was the gas plants that didn't deliver." Well, gas plants run just fine when it's cold. They use them in Chicago. Pretty cold up there. It's called insulation. It's not a complicated technology, really is. We know how to do that.
Wind and solar, again, they go to zero. So, you've got to make sure that you have coal, nuclear, and natural gas that can meet 100% of your needs. And we had not again spent the maintenance capital that we needed to ensure that. Now, this winter, we certainly had a cold snap. Again, we got close to not having enough power, but we didn't quite sort of get over it. Gosh! We looked at what were wind and solar doing then? A couple of percent. What were batteries doing? Zero or next to zero. So, again, you certainly can't count on the ability to store what was generated by wind and solar for when you need it. And when you really do need it, particularly in the winter, it tends to go to zero.
Linda J. Hansen: I'm so glad you brought that up about the reliability and what caused all that. And I've been in Texas like I was in Texas in 2022, and the areas where I work, there were rolling blackouts. I mean, it creates such a problem. You mentioned not only problems in weather conditions, where people are exposed to cold or extreme heat, and they may die actually or have health implications, but I remember being at intersections and people don't think that like, "Oh, your stop lights don't work when you don't have power, right?" And so, I mean, it was just chaos at some of these major intersections. And I thought how is this impacting the safety of everyone? And Texas has had issues. California has had issues. Out east, they've had issues. Occasionally, we do here in the Midwest, not as much, I don't think, but I'm so glad you brought that up.
But also as everyone's swimming upstream, or I would often say running off the cliff to go get wind and solar, which is viable. I mean, it's a great source, but we can't have it be our major source or our only source. And I'm so glad you brought up nuclear as well. I think you and I have talked about the consulting I've done with a nonprofit promoting the development and commercialization of molten salt reactor technologies. And it's one of the small modular reactors that's very safe, can be built on an assembly line, and can be buried underground for protection of the grid. It can be brought up in a series. So, if part of it goes down, the others can be turned up quickly.
When the grid goes down or electricity goes out, the cost and the carbon impact of switching from no power to using coal or whatever to bring it back up or oil is so much more. And while everyone's screaming, "Green" it actually ends up not being that green. And in some cases, it is worse. And I want you to address that. But also when I think of some cases it's worse, I was just hearing this week that in Europe right now, because they've gone to these renewables and they have such high-energy prices due to their poor policies, a lot more people are burning wood. So, their pollution rate and their infection rate of respiratory illness have increased because the air quality has gone down because more people are burning wood instead of cleaner fuel.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: But Linda, woods are renewable, isn't it?
Linda J. Hansen: It's great. Yeah, it's great.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: We ship wood pellets from Alabama and Mississippi over to Europe to burn because it counts as renewable. And you make a great point about nuclear. One of the great litmus tests, whenever you run into somebody who is all for wind and solar because they want less CO2, say, "Well, if you're really concerned about, again, CO2 emissions, changing the climate, and changing the planet's climate, certainly you must really be for nuclear". And you'll get a blank look, and you will rarely ever get anyone to say yes and generally don't say anything. But if they do say something, it's well, you don't want to deal with the waste. Well, in the article that you're pointing out, I actually had several sentences in there that were very pro-nuclear and the editor, that's Dallas News where they took them out. And again, with the feedback I got, I didn't talk directly to him. I did see his email and he basically said, "I took the nuclear stuff out because nobody wants to deal with the waste." And that's just not a very well-informed position.
The spent fuel rods, you put them in an Olympic-sized swimming pool or a large swimming pool, you put them in water, and you keep it chilled and they sit for about ten years. And then you encase them in cement and they sit for eternity or for an awful long time until again, they're not emitting much radiation. Being able to cool pool water is not a complicated technology. We have that under control right up there with insulation. We've had that down for a while, and then being able to encase if, again, you can't recycle it, encase some spent rods in cement. We can make cement, We've been doing concrete for a while, probably a couple of thousand years. We have that technology down, too.
Folks who say, gosh, you can't deal with the waste are very uninformed about what you do with spent fuel rods. Not hard to deal with at all. And we're not talking about– doesn't require expansive areas or anything like that. We don't need a Yucca Mountain or anything like that. And if you really want to get low-cost electricity, assuming we, as Alex Epstein, one of my favorite authors, says, we decriminalize it, if we do that, if you want, again, low-cost electricity that is reliable, that emits no CO2, and very little other byproducts, nuclear is the way to go. But gosh, the folks you meet, I call them the Enviros, they're not big fans of that either.
Linda J. Hansen: Well, it's a shame because it is so efficient. And as I mentioned, these small modular reactors, molten salt reactors, too, they can take a variety of fuel sources. And it's my understanding that some of these reactors can actually be fueled with spent nuclear fuel. So, it's the ultimate in recycling, right? Not only that, like the stability of the grid is insured then because if you have coal, you have natural gas, you have wind and solar, you have nuclear. You want to keep a stable base load power that provides electricity all throughout time for people. And you don't want to have these times where from 5:00 to 06:00 p.m., you're going to have a brownout. You want to have a stable baseload power.
And when we think about these brownouts, blackouts, I mentioned safety, we mentioned security, and health in terms of the elements. But my mom was on oxygen. She, like thousands of people all over the world, really are on oxygen. Millions of people, I'm sure. And you have to have power. And so, what happens when these places are without power? What happens when assisted living places are without power? I mean, this has enormous effects. So getting our energy policy right is so important, and we shouldn't be rushing to the newest thing,
that's actually an old thing, and we moved away from it because it wasn't as reliable.
So, what goes around comes around and history repeats itself, right? But it's great to have wind and solar, but we have to look further into how is it created? How do we mine the material to use for the solar panels and everything? How do we produce things? I mean, you have to have fossil fuels and a steady source of energy in order to manufacture all the technology and all the equipment. And then how are you going to truck it to everywhere it needs to go? I mean, it all sounds so great, "Oh, let's have wind and solar, and we can all just live happily ever after in a green world." But it doesn't really work that way. But as you mentioned, there are so many technologies available that make it so efficient and clean and sensible and cost-effective for us to use this variety that we have available to us to not only power our lives but to make sure we have a secure energy future, which in turn ends up being national security, too.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: I think it does. One of the things I point out to folks, and this is sort of government EIA data you can find on their website is, I think it was 2007 through, I want to say, 2020. The US was a great success story in reducing CO2 emissions. We reduced emissions by 15% over that point in time and obviously, the population went up and energy usage went up. That was largely due to deploying more natural gas in place of coal in the power stack. Some were due to renewables. But if you look at the EIA data, it'll show you two-thirds was due to deploying more natural gas. Well, in my way of thinking, okay, you've got something that's obviously working that is also reliable. The United States is blessed with an abundance of natural gas. Why wouldn't we want to use that more here?
Moreover, why wouldn't we want to export that? And we do export some liquefied natural gas and we're doing more of that. There are an awful lot of plants that are being permitted and built down on the Gulf Coast because that's the only place you can permit them. It'd be very logical to do it on the East Coast because you could ship Appalachian gas, which is their best-producing basin, followed by chains around Louisiana where Vine was active. But you should stick to another one in Baltimore. There is a small LNG facility in Baltimore called Cove Point, but you can't get anything permitted on the East Coast gas.
It would make all kinds of sense to help Europe out and had another article on that to again build a couple of LNG terminals on the East Coast and ship them to Europe. Gosh, that would be, again, a great thing for the country as well as to, again, free Europe. But there's a lot of, again, getting permitted, it is extremely challenging. It does amaze me, the environmental movement. They don't even want to permit mines here to mine the minerals that are required to make–you have solar panels and EV batteries in winter. They'd rather get that from China or Mongolia or someplace where you've got an authoritarian government, and that's usually a bad idea.
Linda J. Hansen: Definitely a bad idea. And we've seen so much information come out about child labor being used for that, and oftentimes trafficked labor being used for these mining things. And they do not have the same care and concern regarding environmental hazards for the environment as well as for the workers a lot of times in these other countries. Their energy production is not as clean as ours. I mean, even when President Trump took us out of the Paris Climate Treaty, like our carbon emissions went down. I mean, we still led the nations in reduction, and people don't think about that. It's just the headlines, "Oh, we got out of the Paris Climate Treaty." Well, we didn't need to be in it. And none of these other nations are abiding by it the way that they should. They want the US to lead, which we did anyway, without having to be as tied into that. So, we have led the world in energy innovation, energy research, and energy production.
During the Trump administration, we were able to be energy independent. And now in the Biden administration, we are no longer energy independent, unfortunately, which causes us to be not as secure as a nation as well. But you have brought up some really good points. And I also wanted to mention that you mentioned an author, Alex Epstein, and I have great respect for him as well. As a young man, he just went out there and promoted fossil fuels. He wrote a book called The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. I recommend it to everybody and talked about how human innovation and really using these fossil fuels, and even nuclear he talks about some responsibly is really the way to elevate citizens and elevate nations.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Now, I'm a huge fan of Alex. Advise your listeners, if you haven't read The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, just skip ahead to his new book Fossil Future, which is probably an inch and a half thicker but does a phenomenal–it's a more advanced work. He's did a great job with both of them. But I'd say skip ahead, read that. Well, he touches on some really great subjects about how we really need to decriminalize and move forward with nuclear not just here, but all over the world. Certainly, natural gas does produce a lot less CO2 than, say, coal does. And CO2–sorry for the dog in the background there–CO2 again, they're very good arguments.
It's very unsettled, whether you're going from a pre-industrial level of CO2, you, call it low 200 parts per million to something that's 420 parts per million. Now, whether that's particularly harmful or quite maybe beneficial, he uses this stick framework. Look at the pluses and the minuses before you decide if something is bad. I always worry when I write something whether I'm going to get a call from one of his attorneys saying, "Cease and desist. You're using Alex's work." But it hasn't happened yet. He does want folks promoting the view that we both share.
So, fortunately, I don't even want to get that call, but he does an awful lot of really good work. One of the areas of his latest book that I like the most–you don't need to be an energy geek to do this–you hear a lot about carbon capture and sequestration, and people don't really know what that is. Well, again, I don't like the term carbon. I like CO2 because we're talking about, again, an odorless, colorless gas that is less than 0.4% or around 0.4% of the atmosphere. So, it's very much a trace element that is critical for life. Plants don't work without CO2. If we didn't have at least 150,000,000 or 150 parts per million, plant life really wouldn't exist. And life on Earth, obviously, animals wouldn't do real well either. But he goes into talking about carbon capture.
You can't suck it out of the atmosphere when it's in that low a concentration. I mean, it's good to talk about cost ineffectiveness. So, you got to find something, an industrial process that is capturing a lot of CO2 and then reinject it into the Earth, which, okay, there are some say a natural gas plant might be able to do that. Again, you're capturing CO2 because you don't want to put that in the pipeline, but you got to go somewhere, you're emitting a lot of it and then build the infrastructure required to pump it down a couple of thousand feet into a formation that will sequester it. That's very expensive. And other than tax attributes, nobody pays you to do that. There's not a customer for that.
There's limited ability to use that in an oil operation, we call a tertiary recovery. After you drill for oil, you dumb a water flood, pump water through the formation, then you can pump CO2 and maybe get a little more oil out. But again, that's pretty limited. What the Green Movement is talking about doing is, again, large-scale sequestration of industrial-emitted CO2, very expensive. And, you know, what kind of benefit are you getting for it? How much is it actually going to reduce atmospheric CO2? You're going to spend a lot of money and get very little benefit for it. And Alex is pretty much on, "Hey, that's one where there are a lot of benefits, but the cost is really large. Maybe not ready for prime time yet."
Linda J. Hansen: Very good. Well, and we talk about so many of these technologies, and some are good, like you mentioned, and they might not be ready for prime time. And if we're really wanting to take care of the security of our nation and the well-being of our citizens, we need to act responsibly and sensibly and take a look at history, too, and say what has worked well in the past? What helped us to be energy independent? What helped us to be thriving as energy producers? And replicate that instead of going back to policies that took us backwards.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: That's a great point. And one of the things I tell folks and they actually do get a decent reaction to, we really started using fossil fuels again around the 1850s with coal, and then we discovered oil and natural gas some years later. And we've been using them since then because they were cheaper, cleaner and safer than the alternatives. And the alternatives were whale oil, animal dung, and wood. And these were much better alternatives. Again, they were cheaper, cleaner, and safer. I am 100% confident, again, coasting on Alex's coattails here, that human ingenuity will come up with something. Maybe it's nuclear. Maybe it's the kind of nuclear we don't know about yet, or something else that will allow us to get energy cheaper and cleaner, and safer than fossil fuels. And once we figure that out, we won't use fossil fuels anymore.
So, I'm highly confident in the next you'll call it 100 years, probably beyond our lifetimes, but something will come along that's a whole lot better won't be emitting as much CO2 in the atmosphere, if that's even a bad thing. Maybe we do want them, who knows? But the fact we don't know what it is yet, we shouldn't get all excited or hot and bothered about that. Something will come along, just like back in 1825. We didn't know a whole lot about using oil and natural gas because it hadn't been sort of discovered and invented and modified to the way we use it today. But that will happen in the future. It has with everything that is the nature of human ingenuity, and it's not going to stop.
Linda J. Hansen: Not going to stop. Well, that's a great place to start to close this, and I appreciate your insights. I talk a lot to employers and helping them to relate all these issues to employees, like why all these policies matter to their job, to their families. Could you mention maybe one or two things that you would recommend employers say to their employees regarding the importance of having this broad spectrum energy approach so we could have energy dominance and prosperity?
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Well, I do think, again, the cost of natural gas in this country is meaningfully less, and that's a big industrial input in petrochemicals and quite frankly, all kinds of businesses that use electricity. We've got cheaper natural gas costs and cheaper electricity costs than most places in the world, and that really makes us competitive from a manufacturing standpoint. You've got a lot of chemical businesses moving out of Germany. Manufacturing businesses are moving out of there because of the cost of electricity and the cost of natural gas. They're going to be moving here. So, I think an energy policy that ensures low cost, reliable energy is very important from a manufacturing perspective. But the current administration talks a lot about wanting to bring manufacturing jobs back. Well, if you want to do that, again, being the low-cost producer is pretty darn important in most businesses, most ones that I know. And again, low cost of energy in an awful lot of businesses is extremely important, particularly in manufacturing.
So, I'd say folks should focus on that and, again, perhaps do a little bit of homework in reading one of Alex's books or some of the articles that a lot of people have written. The science is not settled on whether having more or less CO2 in the atmosphere is a bad thing. And in fact, for most of the planet's history, it's been well over 1,000 parts per million as opposed to the 400 it is now, and lives thrive, all kinds of life. Large dinosaurs that required, again, they ate a lot. Not having enough CO2 is tragic. We know that commercial greenhouses pump CO2 in to get plants to grow quicker. The science isn't settled with, again, having more CO2 or marginally more is going to be a bad thing. And I just would really caution people to how–what is the track record of the catastrophes? Alex use–Alex Epstein uses that term.
How the heck have they been with, again, back in the 70s, it was going to be an ice age and we weren't going to make it? They made all kinds of predictions about polar ice melting, polar bears dying, and oceans rising and temperatures increasing. None of them have come through as they had forecast. So, again, look at their track record and don't be as nervous again about folks trying to sell you something, making something sound really bad, and they're trying to sell you something to prevent it. Well, maybe it's not quite as bad. You certainly wouldn't buy life insurance based on that.
Linda J. Hansen: Exactly. And a lot of these people who are trying to bring us into that fear mode and have been sounding these alarms for many years, "Oh, the oceans are rising amazingly." They're buying homes that are oceanfront or people who tell us we need to cut our carbon emissions and ride public transportation and not use our gas stoves or something. They're going in private planes over to Davos and then private helicopters and things. And it's like we need to really take a look at what's being promoted and look through the headlines because sometimes the deep motives among those headlines and advice given by the experts, may not be in our best interest.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: They give them the Mother Teresa test. Do they really live their lives as Mother Teresa lived hers and wanting to help the poor? Doubtful they do. Actually, they don't.
Linda J. Hansen: Yeah, they don't. So, if they don't practice what they preach, we don't need to follow along with them. And a lot of this information, especially, is really not as hard for people to find if they really want to look. So, of course, they can follow your writings. And before we close, I'd like to make sure that people know how they may contact you if they'd like to do so. What's the best way for people to contact you?
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: Again, I'm Chairman of the Board of Institute for Policy Innovation. We're a Dallas-based think tank. And again, the article that you mentioned, I co-wrote with Dr. Merrill Matthews. He's one of our resident scholars. He works on energy and health care, as well as some other areas. I'd go to ipi.org, and you can find most of what I write there. And if you wanted to get a hold of me, they certainly know where I am. So, happy to be helpful anywhere.
Linda J. Hansen: Well, I'm sure people will appreciate reading some of the things that you've written and more from your organization. Do you have any other closing comments?
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: You know, again, I think being educated on this is really important. And if you look at what's going on in Europe now, they really dodged a bullet with a warm winter this year. But had they had a cold one, it really could have been really very challenging. We would have lost a lot of lives, and that's just not something we should be dealing with in first-world industrialized countries. That's unfortunately what happens in third-world places, and we just really don't want to take ourselves back there. So, again, I tell people, get educated. And when folks are trying to tell you something or sell you on something that sounds too good to be true, again, I love Elon Musk, but the fact that we can solve the world's energy problems in the next couple of years with wind, solar, and batteries, I'm going to take the under on that one. I'm not taking it.
Linda J. Hansen: Exactly well, thank you so much. And again, you can go to the Institute for Policy Innovation, ipi.org, and get in touch with Wayne Stoltenberg. And thank you so much for taking time for the interview and for your decades of experience and wisdom in the energy industry. Thank you.
Wayne B. Stoltenberg: You're very welcome.
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