On June 22, 2022 the House Freedom Caucus held an off-site hearing: “Addressing Bidenflation and Biden’s Energy Crisis.” I was a witness, along with former Texas Governor and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, economist Stephen Moore, and Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma. Here is the written testimony I submitted. You can watch my testimony, as well as my answers to all the Representatives’ questions, in the video below.\
In 2016, I testified in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about how the anti-fossil-fuel policies of the Obama-Biden administration would lead to higher energy prices, which would drive higher prices in every area of the global economy.1
I explained that because fossil fuels provide low-cost, reliable, scalable energy that cannot be rapidly replaced by unreliable solar and wind, “…the President's anti-fossil fuel policies would harm billions of lives economically….” I explained that because “The energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry” therefore “the cost of your food, the cost of your clothing, the cost of your shelter, the success of your business, your ability to take a vacation, the cost of all the different modern miracles, the cost of your healthcare...they are all tied to energy.”
As an energy expert and a philosopher—an expert on thinking methods—I explained to the Senators that the basic mistake of the Obama administration was the failure to “integrate the big picture data.” The Obama Administration was ignoring the unique benefits of fossil fuels to the global economy and to global human flourishing.
Unfortunately, many of the Senators were unwilling to recognize this error in themselves and in the Administration.
When I tried to get my Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, to see that she was ignoring the unique benefits of fossil fuels to the global economy, she dismissed me with the comment: “I am not asking you anything. I am telling you that all you have to know is you are a philosopher...and I don't appreciate getting lectured by a philosopher.”2
But had Senator Boxer and the Obama-Biden administration listened to me and others who warned that anti-fossil fuel policies would lead to higher energy costs, which would lead to price inflation throughout the global economy, we wouldn’t be experiencing a national and global energy crisis today.
Let me be clear: today’s energy crisis is very simple and it was completely preventable.
The price of energy, like all prices, is set by supply and demand.
For the last 15 years, the global anti-fossil-fuel movement, with major leadership by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, has acted aggressively to restrict the supply of fossil fuel energy, which has prevented it from keeping up with growing demand for fossil fuel energy.3
When fossil fuel supply goes down and fossil fuel demand goes up, fossil fuel energy prices go up. And when energy prices go up, the price of everything goes up.
It’s really that simple.
Consider oil and gasoline prices.
There is no physical reason the oil industry can't meet rising demand. The world has hundreds of years' worth of oil deposits. There is no technical reason the oil industry can't meet rising demand. It is more capable than ever thanks to amazing technologies like fracking.4
If there is no physical or technical reason the oil industry can't meet rising demand, what is inhibiting it?
Decades of rising restrictions on oil production and transport from anti-oil politicians—including Biden's massive threats to punish oil production going forward.
Perhaps the greatest limiter of the supply of oil has been anti-oil politicians' constant threats to severely restrict or even ban oil production going forward. E.g., when Joe Biden promises "I guarantee you, we’re going to end fossil fuel" and then becomes President, many oil investors run for the hills.5
Is it any wonder that, threatened with punishment, investment in oil and gas has declined dramatically? Between 2011 and 2021, oil and gas exploration investments declined by 50%. Less investment = less supply = higher prices.6
Anti-oil politicians' restrictions on infrastructure, especially pipelines, have reduced the supply of oil by making it difficult or impossible to transport US oil to international markets. If not for these restrictions we'd be producing more oil, with lower prices for everyone.
If not for Joe Biden and other anti-oil politicians around the world radically restricting the production/transport of oil, as well as threatening oil companies and investors, the global oil industry would have rapidly adjusted to rising demand—and prices would be far lower.
The basic solution to oil/gasoline prices is simple: we need a long-term Congressional commitment to liberate domestic oil production. Until Congress makes clear that the government will stop threatening and destroying oil production, companies will rightly underinvest in production.
More broadly, the basic global solution to the energy crisis is for the global community to reject the anti-fossil-fuel movement and reverse all global anti-fossil-fuel policies. This includes canceling the Paris Agreement—the policy that is driving the world to rapidly restrict the supply of desperately-needed fossil fuels.7
Do not be afraid that liberating fossil fuels will doom the world to climate catastrophe. As I document in chapters 7-9 of my book Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less, fossil fuels' CO2 emissions have contributed to the warming of the last 170 years, but that warming has been mild and easily masterable—1 degree Celsius, mostly in the colder parts of the world. And life on Earth thrived when CO2 levels were more than 5 times today's.8
Fossil fuels have actually made us far safer from climate by providing low-cost energy for the amazing machines that protect us against storms, protect us against extreme temperatures, and alleviate drought. That’s why the rate of climate disaster deaths — deaths from extreme temperatures, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods — has decreased by 98% over the last century.9
What we’ve been told about fossil fuels is exactly backward. We are told that we should be afraid of continuing fossil fuel use because it will make the world unlivable. In fact, fossil fuel use has made the world a better and better place to live, including safer from climate, for the last two centuries—and can continue to do so going forward. What will make the world unlivable for more and more people, as we are seeing now, is the attempt to eliminate fossil fuels—which necessarily leads to energy crises and economic crises. The only way out of this crisis is for America—and the world—to embrace a Fossil Future.
Energy Talking Points with Alex Epstein - Talking Points on skyrocketing natural gas and coal prices↩
Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe - Coal
BP - Statistical Review of World Energy 2021
Michael Lynch - The "Peak Oil" Scare and the Coming Oil Flood
U.S. Department of Energy - Gas Hydrates Quick Facts
“To follow a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030.”↩
SEI - 2020 Report, Summary of Key Findings
Alex Epstein - Fossil Future↩
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate.gov - Climate change rule of thumb: cold "things" warming faster than warm things
The decadally smoothed data from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4 dataset shows an increase of 0.974°C between 1850 and 2019.
UK Met Office HadCRUT4 dataset
“The best estimate of CO2 concentration in the global atmosphere 540 million years ago is 7,000 ppm, with a wide margin of error.”
Patrick Moore - THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF HUMAN CO2 EMISSIONS ON THE SURVIVAL OF LIFE ON EARTH
For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires,…) declined 98 percent—from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 per year during the 2010s.↩
Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium—www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir). Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010 at the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen (for years not shown, the population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate).
Population estimates for the 2010s from World Bank.