An Open Letter to Senator Joe Manchin
Thank you for courageously saving Americans from the Administration’s ruinous anti-fossil-fuel “climate agenda.” Please continue to fight for us in the face of huge pressure.
This is a letter I am mailing today to Senator Joe Manchin. Here’s a PDF version and a Twitter version. Please circulate this as widely as you can. This Administration is doing everything it can to impose anti-fossil-fuel policies, including overriding the legislative process via a bogus “climate emergency” declaration.
Dear Senator Manchin,
The American people owe you a great debt of gratitude for repeatedly stopping this Administration’s attempts at anti-fossil fuel “climate legislation.”
While you are being attacked for ruining our future, you have in fact saved it.
The “climate legislation” you have stopped would have
increased restrictions on fossil fuel supply—making today’s price problems even worse.
increased favoritism for unreliable, China-dominated solar-and-wind electricity—raising prices and reducing reliability and security.
As an energy expert and a vocal critic of this Administration’s anti-fossil-fuel “climate legislation,” I am beyond grateful to you for saving our energy future.
But I am also gravely concerned by your comments that you might agree to “climate legislation” in some other form.
In a recent interview you said you would support the Administration’s push for massive solar/wind subsidies if we could “do that without harming the economy” and provide “a solid energy path for 10 years.”1
Please permit me to explain why this is completely impossible.
Massive new solar/wind subsidies are incompatible with “a solid energy path” because they will inevitably worsen:
And do nothing to make low-carbon energy cost-competitive.
1. How massive new solar/wind subsidies will worsen price inflation
Senator Manchin, you have rightly expressed extreme concern about price inflation in our economy.
New solar/wind subsidies would inevitably increase electricity prices and therefore all prices.
In your comments about solar/wind subsidies and inflation you have expressed concerns about the hundreds of billions of dollars these subsidies will cost the government.
While that is a valid concern, the far worse consequence is their ruinous effect on electricity prices.
Rising electricity prices drive price inflation in two basic ways.
1. Increasing the prices Americans pay directly for electricity.
2. Increasing the prices of all goods produced using American electricity.
New solar/wind subsidies will inevitably increase electricity prices.
Every area of the world that has tried using significant amounts of solar and wind has had major problems with rising costs. Germans, to get 37% of their electricity from solar/wind, have doubled their prices—now 3X US prices. And their situation is getting worse fast.2
The reason that solar and wind drive higher electricity prices is simple: because solar and wind can go near-zero at any given time, they don’t replace the costs of reliable power plants—they add to them. That means higher electricity prices—which means higher everything prices.3
Given that we face, in your words, an “inflation fire,” with the latest inflation figure at 9.1%, passing massive new, price-inflating solar/wind subsidies should not be on the table, period. Instead we should foster innovation that can bring about truly competitive alternatives.4
2. How massive new solar/wind subsidies will worsen electricity reliability
Senator Manchin, you have said, “The main thing that we need is…reliability. If not, you'll have what happened in Texas and what happens in California.”5
More solar/wind subsidies will make Texas and California the norm.
America already has worsening electricity reliability.
Not only have we witnessed unprecedented problems in California and Texas, this summer blackout warnings are occurring all around the US.
FERC Commissioner Mark Christie puts it bluntly “We’re heading for a reliability crisis.”6
The root cause of the reliability crisis is simple: America is shutting down too many reliable power plants, often to try to cope with the large costs of installing so many unreliable solar panels and wind turbines and the massive new transmission lines they require.
Since at any given time solar and wind can go near zero, using them as replacements for reliable power plants doesn’t work. For example, Texas’ February 2021 disaster was caused by solar/wind disappearing and inadequate investment in reliable power plants and their weatherization.7
Why is America shutting down too many reliable power plants? Two of the chief villains are the subsidies known as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)—the very subsidies that the Administration’s “climate agenda” wants to expand and extend!8
The ITC and PTC pay utilities to shut down or slow down reliable gas, coal, and nuclear power plants whenever the sun shines or the wind blows. This defunds reliable plants, causing many to be shut down and threatening the grid’s future.
Increasing these subsidies is insanity.
Do not fall for the portrayal of solar/wind subsidies as exciting “investments” that will “only” cost hundreds of billions of dollars. By making the electricity grid even more unreliable, they will cost trillions of dollars in reliability costs—driving price inflation that much more.
3. How massive new solar/wind subsidies will worsen recession
Senator Manchin, you have rightly expressed worries about anything that might make “pending recession” worse.
Massive new solar/wind subsidies will inevitably worsen any recession via high-cost, unreliable power.
The energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. The lower cost and more reliable energy is, the better our economy is. The higher cost and less reliable energy is, the worse our economy is.
At a time of increasing recession risk, it should be unthinkable to support policies that are guaranteed to make electricity—industry’s leading source of energy—more expensive and less reliable.
Yet that’s what this Administration’s “climate agenda” insists on.
4. How new massive new solar/wind subsidies will worsen energy security
Senator Manchin, you have repeatedly and rightly expressed concerns about “the state of American energy security.”
Increasing solar and wind subsidies will inevitably make the situation worse.
The mining and processing of solar/wind-related materials is dominated by China to a staggering degree. The US does little mining or processing of these materials, largely because of "green" restrictions. Our dependence on China for solar/wind dwarfs past mideast oil dependence.
Making our grid even more dependent on China-centered, unreliable solar and wind is a direct sacrifice to China—whose >80% fossil fueled industry (including mostly-coal-powered grid) will profit mightily while holding our security at their mercy.9
Do not be fooled by claims that new support for domestic solar/wind production will solve the problem of dependence on China.
Because this support does nothing to reduce the “green” restrictions on mining and processing, it will just lead to even more expensive solar/wind.
Why any Administration promise to support fossil fuels is phony
Senator Manchin, the Administration has reportedly offered to approve various fossil fuel projects in exchange for you supporting massive solar/wind subsidies and other “climate agenda” items.
This is a ruse.
Any Biden Administration promise to approve fossil fuel projects is phony for 2 reasons:
The administration plans to offset any approvals with even more denials.
The approvals themselves can be reversed at any moment by the Administration’s anti-fossil-fuel bureaucrats.
The Biden administration is still committed to its goal of rapidly eliminating fossil fuel use in the next 7.5 years. This means any projects they approve must be offset by denying other crucial projects.
This is not the “solid energy path for 10 years” that you want.
Any promise the Administration makes to support projects is also meaningless because the “promise” would not involve an unchangeable law but rather stopping hostile bureaucrats. Other hostile bureaucrats can always come up with new “reasons” to oppose the same projects.
Harming West Virginia the most
Senator Manchin, the evidence is clear: the massive solar/wind subsidies and broader “climate agenda” you are being asked to support would worsen inflation, electricity reliability, recession, and energy security.
And West Virginia, your state, would suffer the most.
Low-cost, reliable electricity is one of West Virginia's great assets. Thanks to its overwhelmingly coal-fired electricity, West Virginia has some of the lowest electricity rates in the country—second only to coal-heavy Kentucky on the East Coast.10
Low-cost, reliable electricity saves everyone money and makes West Virginia a hub of industry. The industrial sector uses over 40% of West Virginia’s electricity. Low-cost, reliable electricity also makes West Virginia a major exporter of electricity to its regional grid, meaning more money from other states.11
West Virginia currently has low electricity costs due to its coal-dominated power grid, which benefits private households as well as industry. But with more subsidized solar and wind this grid will be transformed to a costly, less reliable one like in Texas or California.
The #1 target of the “climate agenda” is US coal. That means its #1 target is West Virginia. A 2019 study by West Virginia University economists found that coal mining and coal-fired power plants generated economic activity of almost $14 billion, employment for over 30,000 West Virginians, and >10% of West Virginia taxes.12
Do not believe claims that magic "green jobs" will make West Virginia better after Build Back Better destroys the coal industry. "Green jobs" are: 1) unproductive, 2) largely in China, and 3) the cause of job losses in other industries via high energy prices.
Senator Manchin, the agenda you are being asked to support would decrease electricity reliability, increase price inflation, worsen recession, weaken energy security, and wreck West Virginia.
It needs to be rejected in any and every form.
Senator Manchin, now that the Administration is not only trying to offer you phony support of fossil fuels to get you to support its “climate agenda,” but also overriding the legislative process by declaring a “climate emergency,” the American people need you more than ever.
The Administration's declaration of “climate emergency” is totally invalid because while there is “climate change,” there is no “climate emergency.” Fossil fuels actually make us far safer from climate. That's why climate disaster deaths have decreased 98% over the last century.13
The Administration's declaration of "climate emergency" is also totally invalid because its “emergency” policies of solar/wind subsidies will do nothing to make low-carbon energy cost-competitive—which is the only humane and practical way to lower global CO2 emissions.
Instead of cooperating with an anti-fossil-fuel administration on rescuing their ruinous “climate agenda,” you can work with pro-energy-politicians on an energy freedom agenda that ensures plenty of fossil fuel energy and fosters cost-competitive low-carbon alternatives.
I have developed a 5-part energy freedom platform for America’s future:
Liberate responsible energy development
Decriminalize nuclear energy
End preferences for unreliable electricity
Practice pro-human land management
Reduce emissions long-term through innovation
1. Liberate responsible energy development
Anti-development policies prevent every form of energy from reaching its potential—from natural gas to nuclear to solar. Liberating responsible development throughout America will create unprecedented energy abundance and progress.
2. Decriminalize nuclear energy
The overregulation of low-carbon nuclear verges on criminalization, making nuclear costs 10X higher than they need to be. Decriminalizing nuclear, including radical reform of the NRC and EPA, will make energy far cheaper, safer, and cleaner.
3. End preferences for unreliable electricity
Today's electric grids are being ruined by systemic preferences for unreliable electricity, which causes prices to rise and reliability to decline.
Eliminating them can help make America a leader in low-cost, reliable electricity.
4. Practice pro-human Federal lands management
A hostility toward all human impact is at the root of our numerous problems with Federal lands, including out-of-control wildfires and insufficient energy development.
Pro-human policies will make us safer and more prosperous.
5. Reduce emissions through liberating innovation, not punishing America
The only humane way to reduce emissions long-term is innovation that makes low-carbon energy globally cost-competitive. Trying to rapidly eliminate fossil fuels in the US is senseless self-destruction.
To summarize: the Biden “climate agenda,” which always includes massive new solar/wind subsidies, is irredeemably destructive—guaranteed to increase inflation, decrease electricity reliability, worsen recession, and harm energy security.
We need energy freedom instead.
On July 27 and 28 I will be in Washington, DC speaking with dozens of elected officials about my new Energy Freedom platform and how it can make our energy lower cost, more reliable, and cleaner.
Senator Manchin, I welcome and request the opportunity to speak with you directly.
As is always the case, during my trip to DC I will be representing only myself—no one else. I am not a lobbyist for anyone, and no one on Earth has any control over what I say.
I am just an energy expert who is confident he has identified a much better path forward for America.
Once again, Senator Manchin, I want to thank you for saving America on multiple occasions from the energy and economic ruin of the Biden anti-fossil-fuel “climate agenda.”
Please publicly reject this agenda once and for all, and join me and others in embracing energy freedom.
Founder of the Center for Industrial Progress
Author of Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less and The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
Please share the Twitter version of this letter:
EnergyTalkingPoints.com: Hundreds of concise, powerful, well-referenced talking points on energy, environmental, and climate issues.
“Energy Talking Points by Alex Epstein” is my free Substack newsletter designed to give as many people as possible access to concise, powerful, well-referenced talking points on the latest energy, environmental, and climate issues from a pro-human, pro-energy perspective.
Reminder: how to help Fossil Future succeed even more
To help my new book Fossil Future succeed even more, you can:
Buy one or more copies (obviously)
Spread the word in an email, newsletter, blog or column easily by using or modifying this text. (When you do so, let me know at email@example.com.)
Share this viral tweet of mine announcing the book.
Public generation of electricity was over 488 terawatt-hours in Germany for 2020, solar and wind combined generated over 37%. In 2002 they generated just over 3%.
Fraunhofer ISE energy-charts.de
German household electricity prices have more than doubled to over 0.3€ per kWh ($0.35 per kWh depending on currency exchange rate) since 2000 when the modern renewable energy law started to massively incentivize solar and wind capacity on the German grid.
The average US household price in 2020 was $0.1315 per kWh.
U.S. Energy Information Administration Electric Power Annual table 5a
Increasingly, Germany depends on interconnections with neighboring countries. In 2020 the country experienced a sharp increase in electricity imports, while still massively exporting solar and wind overproduction.
Reuters - German power export surplus shrank 46.2% in 2020
In 2020 coal generated 89% of West Virginia’s electricity.
Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Annual
“In 2020, West Virginia had the second-lowest average price for electricity, after Kentucky, among states east of the Mississippi River”
U.S. Energy Information Administration - West Virginia State Energy Profile, Analysis
U.S. Energy Information Administration - ELECTRICITY DATA BROWSER
“The industrial sector accounts for the largest share of end-use energy consumption in West Virginia, at 45% of the state's total.”
U.S. Energy Information Administration - West Virginia State Energy Profile, Analysis
For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%--from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 in 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 come from the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown, population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.
Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data.