Posted 8-21-18, By Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris – “It will be an amazing day,” announced Dr. Tim Huelskamp at the start of the America First Energy Conference (AFEC) held on August 7 in New Orleans. “You’re going to learn a lot… about so many issues, issues many in the media do not want us to know about.”

Indeed, we did. For, as Huelskamp, former Kansas Congressman and now President of The Heartland Institute (the conference organizers), explained to the audience of 225, packed into that single day were presentations from representatives of government, science, and think tanks determined to set the record straight on where America stands and where it needs to go on energy.

AFEC, which brought together likely the most talented team of energy and policy experts ever assembled, consisted of more than a dozen panel discussions and keynote talks at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ample time was allowed for questions from a very well-educated audience which added greatly to event.

Here are samples of what we learned.

In his morning keynote address Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talked about the benefits of energy independence. “An energy independent America creates a safe America; it creates a prosperous America. It builds the middle class,” said Landry. “It provides good jobs, good schools. It gives the ability for the government to give teachers a raise, to give our police and firefighters raises. It secures the safety and liberty of the entire world.”

Using the electricity required to power the Houston metropolitan area as an example, Landry discussed the impracticality of trying to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. To produce that power using corn ethanol would require over 21,000 square miles of corn fields. “Think about that footprint!” exclaimed the Louisiana AG. To produce the same amount of electricity from wind power would take almost 900 square miles of wind turbines, or 150 square miles of solar panels, Landry told the audience.

Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist University of Alabama in Huntsville, was an ever-present voice at the conference receiving an award for valor in the face of extreme opposition to his outstanding work on satellite measurements which show conclusively that carbon dioxide (CO2) has played no significant role in altering the temperature of the planet.  In his panel presentation on CO2, he made the unarguable case that there are no negatives for the increasing amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.  It is a miracle molecule which makes life possible on planet Earth.

Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, Texas Public Policy Foundation, talked of the impact her book “FUELING FREEDOM – Exposing the mad war on energy”, coauthored with Steve Moore of the President’s transition team, has had on the energy picture in the US. She focused on the terrible outcomes forced upon the poorest in the world by depriving them of inexpensive, efficient fossil fuels in favor of costly solar and wind energy which can never compete in the free market without major taxpayer subsidies.

Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, shocked the audience with incredible data on the efficiency and economics of continuing to developing our vast offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.  Because of the great advances in development of shale gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, less attention is being paid to more conventional off shore vertical wells.  In fact, technological advances allowing multiple wells from the same platform and three-dimensional seismic data has driven the costs down and yields up.  Leimkuhler said that in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that are currently open to leasing (i.e., the Central and Western Gulf) more and more offshore leases are likely to receive bids in the future due to the increased value of Gulf Coast Crude relative to oil from fracking. For the Gulf Coast refineries, offshore Gulf of Mexico crudes provide higher yields of the more valuable products desired by the market (fuel, diesel).

Sterling Burnet, Editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News moderated a panel on coal, oil, and natural gas where panelists demonstrated America’s good fortune of holding huge inexpensive reserves that can maintain America’s energy costs dramatically below that of other nations.  Burnett said we must end the war on fossil fuels by continuing to explain the economics, safety, and efficiency of coal, oil, and natural gas. He described the large numbers of coal fired plants that were shut down by the Obama administration. This trend must be stopped. Coal needs to be brought back as a great American resource in the hearts and minds of the American public.

Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, lead the Trump administration’s transition team on energy regulation. At AFEC he reviewed the many regulations being eliminated.  He noted that President Trump called for two rules to be eliminated for every new rule that would be established in his administration, but that in fact we have managed to eliminate twenty regulations for every new one established.  We still have a long way to go to fully unencumber America’s economy, but the start has exceeded most expectations.

Marc Morano, publisher of the influential Washington D.C.-based Climatedepot.com, disclosed the fact that many of America’s most strident leftist environmental activist groups are heavily financed by Russian money in an effort to hurt the US economy through inhibiting the use of fossil fuels and the waste of government funds supporting research into implausible man-caused climate change.

Morano’s new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change is considered one of the most complete guides to the true history of the greatest fraud in history, man-caused climate change.

It was heartening to learn the participants in Panel 6. Reforming the EPA that all felt the new administrator Andrew Wheeler will carry on the excellent work of former administrator Scott Pruitt.  The problem is, and will continue to be, that the vast majority of EPA staff remain Obama appointees who will continue to impede efforts to make significant reforms.  In spite of this, changes for the better are occurring almost daily as Wheeler meets with state groups across the country.

In his keynote address at the conference’s closing session philosopher and President of the Center for Industrial Progress Alex Epstein showed a video of his exchange with Senator Barbara Boxer of California at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Boxer wondered what a philosopher was doing lecturing the committee.  He smoothly answered “to help you learn how to think clearly,” to which Boxer replied, “You don’t have to teach me to think more clearly!” This brought the house down.

Epstein went on to explain that today’s energy debate is bedeviled with biased, sloppy and anti-human thinking. Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, explained how to use a correct thought process, or ‘framework,’ to win more people over to a rational approach to issue. Before starting trying to convince people of the value of fossil fuels, Epstein said, to win the debate, it was critical to first establish an agreement on the correct framework, one that was even handed, precise and valued human flourishing. “Once you start looking at the facts from the right framework, from a human-flourishing based framework, overall, freeing fossil fuel use instead of restricting it is going to give billions of people more access to cheap, plentiful, reliable energy,” Epstein concluded.

All AFEC sessions, including Carbon taxes, cap & trade, and other bad ideas, Fueling freedom and prosperity, Cafe standards: why they need to go, Climate lawsuits against energy companies and the government, may be viewed on the conference web site at http://americafirstenergy.org/. Everyone needs to view the conference. It was a day to remember.

Dr. Jay Lehr is The Heartland Institute’s Science Director and moderated the conference panel Why CO2 emissions are not creating a climate crisis. Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition. Harris is a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute and moderated the conference panel, Fueling freedom and prosperity