America First Energy Conference Was ‘Amazing Day’

New Orleans event reveals much of what has been hidden from the energy debate

America First Energy Conference Was ‘Amazing Day’
This file image shows a PennzEnergy oil exploration drilling rig In the Gulf of Mexico. (Getty Images)
Tom Harris

“It will be an amazing day,” Tim Huelskamp, president of The Heartland Institute, announced at the start of the America First Energy Conference (AFEC) held on Aug. 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. That single day was packed with 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 what may be considered the most talented team of energy and policy experts ever assembled, consisted of more than a dozen panel discussions and keynote talks at each meal. Ample time was allowed for questions from a very well-educated audience, which added greatly to the event.

The following are samples of what we learned that day.

Energy Independence

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,” he said. “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 needed 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 than 21,000 square miles of corn fields, he said.

“Think about that footprint!” he exclaimed. The same amount of electricity could be produced by almost 900 square miles of wind turbines, or 150 square miles of solar panels, Landry told the audience.

Meanwhile, Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama–Huntsville, received an award for valor in the face of extreme opposition to his outstanding work on satellite measurements that 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 argued that there are no negatives for the increasing amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. It is a miracle molecule that makes life possible on Earth.

Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, spoke about her book “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy,” co-authored with Steve Moore, an economist who served on President Donald Trump’s transition team, and the effect that a shift toward renewable resources has had on the energy picture in the United States.

She focused on ideas that are forced upon the world's poorest, depriving them of inexpensive, efficient fossil fuels in favor of costly solar and wind energy, which can't compete in the free market without major taxpayer subsidies.

Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, shared insightful data on the efficiency and economics of continuing to develop our vast offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of advances in the production of shale gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, less attention is being paid to more conventional offshore vertical wells, he indicated.

In fact, technological advances that allow for multiple wells from the same platform and three-dimensional seismic data has driven 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 Gulf Coast refineries, offshore Gulf of Mexico crudes provide higher yields of the more valuable products desired by the market (fuel, diesel).

Panelists hailed America’s good fortune in holding huge, inexpensive reserves that can maintain the nation's energy costs at levels dramatically below that of other nations, during a discussion on coal, oil, and natural gas that was moderated by Sterling Burnett, editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News.

Burnett said he supports continuing efforts to explain the economics, safety, and efficiency of coal, oil, and natural gas. He pointed to the large number of coal-fired plants that were shut down by the Obama administration, and argued that the trend must stop. Coal needs to be brought back as a great resource in the hearts and minds of the American public, he said.


Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, reviewed the many energy regulations being eliminated by the Trump administration. He noted that Trump called for two rules to be eliminated for every new rule that would be established in his administration, but said that, in fact, 20 regulations have been removed for every new one established. There is a long way to go to fully unencumber America’s economy, but the start has exceeded most expectations, he said.

Marc Morano, publisher of the influential Washington-based website, said that many of America’s most strident leftist environmental activist groups are heavily financed by Russian money. He said those efforts seek to hamper the U.S. economy by inhibiting the use of fossil fuels and encouraging the wasting of government funds on 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 history of the greatest fraud in history: man-caused climate change.

The participants in the panel "Reforming the EPA" all believe that new Administrator Andrew Wheeler will carry on the work of former Administrator Scott Pruitt. The problem is, and will continue to be, that the vast majority of EPA staff are Obama appointees, who will continue to impede efforts toward significant reforms.

Human Flourishing

In his keynote address at the conference’s closing session, Alex Epstein, a philosopher and president of the Center for Industrial Progress, showed a video of an exchange he had with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Boxer wondered what a philosopher was doing lecturing the committee.

Epstein answered “to help you learn how to think clearly." That response drew laughter from the attendees.

Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” said the current energy debate is fraught with biased, sloppy and anti-human thinking, and he explained how to use a correct thought process, or framework, to win people over. Before trying to convince someone about the value of fossil fuels, Epstein said, it's critical to first establish an agreement on the correct framework—one that's even-handed, precise and values human flourishing.

“Once you start looking at the facts from the right framework, from a human-flourishing based framework, freeing fossil fuel use instead of restricting is going to give billions of people more access to cheap, plentiful, reliable energy,” Epstein concluded.

All AFEC sessions are available for viewing on the conference website at Everyone should view the conference. It was a day to remember.
Jay Lehr is science director at The Heartland Institute. He moderated the conference panel "Why CO2 Emissions Are Not Creating a Climate Crisis." Tom Harris, who is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition, is a policy adviser to The Heartland Institute. He moderated the conference panel "Fueling Freedom and Prosperity."
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Tom Harris is executive director of the non-partisan Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.
Related Topics