‘The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves’ Should Not Be a Template for Energy Policy


Terry Etam

There’s positive energy out there, and there’s negative energy, and life is better wrapped in one rather than the other. I get it. I’ve absorbed the cliches and motivational posters; stay away from toxicity and life goes much easier.

The energy world has for a very long time been on the right side of ledger; there is an incredible amount of positive energy development. On the existing oil/gas side, this has mostly always been so – it’s a fantastic, dynamic, entrepreneurial business, and finding fuel for fellow citizens is extremely rewarding. There is also phenomenal positive energy in many energy transition developments – the race to do something (anything) with hydrogen, efficiency gains, solving pollution challenges, finding new ways of providing energy in a changing world. To adapt successfully requires a positive outlook and environment.

And then there’s the rest of it.

The sheer magnitude of negative energy in mainstream energy discussions is either mind-numbing if one can remain emotionally detached, or downright depressing if not.

Even though it is much healthier to avoid it all and block the haters, it’s necessary to know what’s going on. Hey, someone’s gotta do the colonoscopies, right?

The stakes are incredibly high. The negative energy camp, the ones out to destroy the current system before a suitable replacement is verifiably ready, is calling the shots. We need to know what is going to happen as a result. 

Here are some examples of situations developing here and there that will have massive consequences if they continue on current trajectories. 

The US’ electrical grid system is divided into a series of regional operators whose job it is to maintain consistent, reliable power and…ah hell I’ll just borrow their words. One of them, PJM, is “ a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.” In that region are 65 million people for whom PJM aims to “ensure the safety, reliability, and security of the bulk electric power system” – that’s from their mission statement.

In early 2023, PJM issued a report stating that existing baseload power generating facilities were being retired faster than adequate replacements are being constructed, which is increasing reliability risk and adding risk of rolling power blackouts. 

You can use your imagination as to why existing (coal and natural gas fired) power plants are being shut down prematurely, and what kind of replacements are being developed (wind and solar). – activists are running the show. You can also imagine the consequences. This isn’t rocket science. Replace facilities that can run 24/7/365 with ones that work when the weather cooperates, and the results are predictable.

This isn’t anything particularly funny either. The New York Times ran a piece about what a power outage could mean in Arizona, if air conditioning was unavailable at the wrong time of year: “New research warns that nearly 800,000 residents would need emergency medical care for heat stroke and other illnesses in an extended power failure. Other cities are also at risk.” Needless to say, there aren’t enough emergency beds for that kind of mass arrival, and in an extended power outage there is no guarantee the emergency facilities would have power anyway. The same problem would hit most North American cities in a power outage during a heat wave as well; this isn’t just an Arizona story, and the same no doubt would hold true for a winter outage of any magnitude.

Astonishing as it may seem, the concerns of PJM are dismissed as irrelevant by, who would have guessed…activist lawyers. The PJM report is a gross failure, according to a Sierra Club lawyer, penning a piece for a utility website titled “How PJM, America’s biggest grid operator, got its reliability report wrong”. You tell ‘em, lawyers! No one knows a grid better than you: “The report ignores the glaring performance problems of fossil fuel power plants in extreme weather.”

Sitting here in Canada, I can within 30 minutes drive past natural gas fired power plants that run like Swiss watches in minus 40 conditions and plus 40 conditions. True, they don’t like it at the extremes, like much equipment of any sort. But in the decades I’ve been around, I’ve yet to see a rolling power blackout due to ‘glaring performance problems of fossil fuel power plants’ in a climate that is vastly more harsh than Washington DC.

Sierra Club’s Environmental Law section on their website lists 49 lawyers on staff. Taunting lawyers is not a good idea at all, but I will point out that a dozen lawyers of any stripe can shape infrastructure development in the same way a tornado can shape a Kansas trailer park.

The Sierra Club will utilize their budget, PR, and legal might to sway the conversation in a way that the grid’s operator itself declares dangerous. 29dk2902lhttps://boereport.com/29dk2902l.html

Crazy as that seems, it can get even worse. Look at California.

The state recently mandated that drayage fleets – the types of trucks/trucking companies that operate in and out of ports – can only replace trucks with zero-emissions versions after January 1, 2024. There are an estimated 30,000 such trucks that will have to go all electric in just over a decade, and they have nowhere to charge these things, with only vague promises from government officials that they’ll work it out somehow.

The California Energy Commission estimates the state will need 157,000 high-capacity chargers by 2030 to service electric trucks. Big numbers, but what do they mean? Is that a lot or a little? How does one add context?

There are clues. The generic news flow, of course, covers the issue with the kind of starry-eyed fanboy fodder we’ve come to expect. Reuters tracks down one ‘success story’, a small trucking firm that found an 800 amp panel in an abandoned hay-bailing operation (in LA…wonder what that was all about – LA isn’t famous for fields of alfalfa) somewhere near the port of LA that the owner was able to craft into four charging stations within a year. (These sites – existing small and unused already-wired sites – are like gold, apparently.)

Four down, 156,996 to go. But even then, where does that fit on any kind of sensibility scale? What does 157,000 charging stations look like, both physically laid out and in terms of consumption?

Hard to say, but here’s what a tiny fraction of all that looks like – and it’s a disaster.

A vice chair of the American Trucking Association recently testified in Washington before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the cold hard realities of electrified trucking. In one example he gave, a trucking company in Joliet, Illinois tried to electrify 30 of its trucks. These modest plans were thwarted when “local officials shut those plans down, saying they would draw more electricity than is needed to power the entire city.”

He gave another example: “A California company tried to electrify 12 forklifts. Not trucks, but forklifts. Local power utilities told them that’s not possible.”

California has not the slightest clue how it will provide power for all those trucks, and the sheer logistical challenge will be multiplied by the fact that the state wants to electrify everything else at the same time it accelerates development of intermittent power.

Grim as those examples are, they are far, far from unique. 

Testifying before a US Senate committee on energy, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) members, including at least one Biden appointee, made the following comments with respect to the premature closing of hydrocarbon power plants: “There is a “looming reliability crisis in our electricity markets…The United States is heading for a very catastrophic situation in terms of reliability…We face unprecedented challenges to the reliability of our nation’s electric system.” 

Those are bone-dry regulators talking, not a group known for hyperbole and grandstanding. Yet you can almost sense the panic; they are the ones that will be in the firing line if things go really sideways.

And yet, check out this mindblowing counteroffensive underway against even electrical grid operators themselves. ISO NE, the Independent System Operator of New England, has a Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) to ‘facilitate interaction between ISO NE and regional electricity consumers’. In December of last year, climate activists from the No Coal No Gas organization packed a meeting and elected a full suite of fellow activists to the Coordinating Committee of the CLG. No Coal No Gas has set out to, you guessed it, shut down any remaining coal and gas fired power plants.

No surprise there, I suppose, that’s what they do. But what makes that counteroffensive so shocking are comments like this from one of the meetings: ‘Another speaker paraphrased a prior statement by ISO-NE that it would prioritize grid reliability and proper market function as the clean energy transition moved forward.“I’d like you to reverse that,” he said — make preserving conditions for life on planet Earth the priority rather than keeping the lights on and the capitalist free markets functioning…What we really want to hear is that your heart is in saving life — not in the lights coming on every time someone wants to make an egg…” ‘

Think about those words. There is a direct line from the Sierra Club’s fleet of lawyers to activists like this, ones so clueless that they think they are better serving humanity by de-prioritizing grid reliability – at the same time that they demand everything be electrified.

It is unnerving and creepy to even observe all this mayhem. It’s like watching helicopter news coverage of a drunk guy stumbling around on an LA freeway. Someone’s gonna get hurt, badly. 

The freeway drunk is nothing compared to the energy mayhem underway though, relatively speaking. Many people are going to get hurt. This game only accelerates as long as squadrons of activists here and there and everywhere do all they can to limit hydrocarbon distribution and development. 

The negative energy messaging is easy and effective though. Look out the window. See smoke? Fossil fuels caused that. See a drought? Same. See heat? Same. See a flood? Same. 

The weather itself is now used as a bludgeon against the way of life we enjoy, and against the way of life 7 billion people are trying to emulate. Want to live a good life, enjoy travel, buy things? Want air conditioning? A fridge? You’re destroying the planet. Or, even more befuddling, the people that provide the fuel that allow you to benefit from these things are destroying the planet.

Talk about negative energy. 

It sucks to spend any time in that world. It’s best always to focus on positive energy and to avoid the opposite. But pretending this madness isn’t happening isn’t the answer either.

Energy conversations should be positive and, most of all, grounded in reality. Life depends on it. Find out more in  “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.caIndigo.ca, or Amazon.com. Thanks!

Read more insightful analysis from Terry Etam here, or email Terry here.

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June 17, 2023 6:04 am

So many questions. Will Biden’s train across the Pacific to the Indian ocean be electric? Will it be part of a network including AOC’s high speed train to Hawaii?

The future is so bright with such visionaries in charge.

Reply to  Scissor
June 17, 2023 8:15 am

I share your sarcasm and belief in our retrograde leaders

Reply to  Energywise
June 17, 2023 1:10 pm

OMG, this is a dem senator from Pennsylvania.


Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Scissor
June 17, 2023 10:12 pm

I wonder if Biden sensed anything a bit off…

June 17, 2023 6:33 am

What can anybody say except for what Biden said yesterday, “God save the Queen!”

Richard Page
Reply to  Denis
June 17, 2023 6:37 am

I didn’t realise he knew Camilla!

Reply to  Richard Page
June 17, 2023 6:56 am

Oh he does…

“”Joe Biden ‘farted close to Camilla and she can’t stop talking about it’”

It was long and loud and impossible to ignore. “”

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  strativarius
June 17, 2023 7:25 am

“Don’t you know it’s bad form to fart before the queen?”

“I didn’t know it was her turn”.

Reply to  Denis
June 17, 2023 6:45 am

If so many people weren’t being harmed and annihilated in clown world, it would be funny.

Curious George
Reply to  Denis
June 17, 2023 12:18 pm

It should have been “God help America!”

June 17, 2023 6:54 am

We in the U.K. have a lot of coal, oil and gas – but then again, we don’t…

Reply to  strativarius
June 17, 2023 8:17 am

Vote Reform, they’ll use it

Richard Page
Reply to  Energywise
June 17, 2023 8:59 am

They will use it, if they can get enough political traction in the next few elections.

June 17, 2023 6:55 am

“AAAAAAACCCCKKKK!” Yeah, Bill the Cat popped up in my mind when I saw the nonsense stated by nominal resident of the WH regarding the railroad across great spans of the ocean. Its become my standard response to the nonsense from the left on just about anything.
The positive side is that most critical thinking folks know the truth is that its all horsepucky.
Along with the bovine scat that humans can affect the climate by going back to the stone age living as proposed by the folks on the left. If they were true believers, they would give up their products which have been made possible via the various processes from “fossil fuels”. Start with their modes of transportation, clothing, computers, cell phones, et al. Not pretty for them. Or the rest of us who would be forced to view them without their garments. Yikes.
Then leave the rest of us alone to live the life we choose utilizing the gifts the earth provides via the use of products derived from the bounty of the planet.
Freakin’ nutjobs and clowns who will never live up to their proclamations for the rest of us.
Scammers, one and all. Just sayin’.

Smart Rock
Reply to  guidvce4
June 17, 2023 8:57 am

most critical thinking folks know the truth

All two hundred of us……..

Reply to  guidvce4
June 18, 2023 6:27 am

Ignorance and apathy are terrible afflictions.

Dave Fair
Reply to  barryjo
June 18, 2023 5:57 pm

I don’t know about that. Anyway, I don’t care.

Peta of Newark
June 17, 2023 7:32 am

It’s just sooooo easy to say: no
Timid and frightened people, given all the power and none of the responsibility

They’re in very real danger of starting something soooo dumb……
<thinks Ukraine><shudders>

Richard Page
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 17, 2023 9:43 am

Exactly. If they are stupid enough to do something like Ukraine then god only knows what they are stupid enough to do. As far as monumental screwups are concerned I can only hope that someone with a touch more intelligence is in place to stop it before the unthinkable happens.
I would also add that these geniuses in charge appear to have no idea what the consequences of their actions might be and a willingness to dodge the blame after those consequences have occurred.

Joseph Zorzin
June 17, 2023 7:34 am

It’s time to fight back- with a “special mission”.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 17, 2023 8:18 am

There’s millions that will enlist

J Boles
June 17, 2023 7:45 am

I wonder if they realize that THEY will be affected just as much as anyone else. But by then it will be too late for everyone. I have known people like that – they just HAVE to be in charge of something, and of course they screw it up.

Reply to  J Boles
June 17, 2023 8:20 am

Only when it starts affecting the rich elites, will the nonsense stop

Tim Spence
Reply to  J Boles
June 17, 2023 9:16 am

Maybe they hate themselves enough to not care. Maybe they think their gold plated pensions will save them.

Ronald Stein
June 17, 2023 8:19 am

The ruling class are not yet cognizant of the limitations of solar and wind. Those renewables of wind and solar only generate occasional electricity, but manufacture nothing for society.

The ruling class in wealthy countries are not cognizant that the planet populated from 1 to 8 billion in less than two hundred years, and that population explosion began right after the discovery of oil. That growth in the population was not just based on crude oil by itself, as crude oil is useless until it can be manufactured into something useable.

Today, through human ingenuity, we have manufactured that useless oil into more than 6,000 products that are currently benefiting society and fuels for the 50,000 jets moving people and products, and more than 50,000 merchant ships for global trade flows, and the military and space programs.

But ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products manufactured from fossil fuels will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths. Shortages of fossil fuel products would necessitate lifestyles being mandated back to the horse and buggy days of the 1800’s, and could be the greatest threat to the planet’s eight billion residents.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 17, 2023 8:53 am

Much of the change in population was due to advances in medicine as well as a better diet. Granted, oil figures into both areas and it would be difficult to make those advances without access to oil. Third world countries had large families as a retirement plan. Few of their children would survive to adulthood and those who did, would care for their aging parents. Now most of their children survive and thrive with the parents putting away something for their old age. While Colt said “God created men equal. Colonel Colt made them equal” but oil has given the poor wealth that was once an impossible dream.

Reply to  Ronald Stein
June 17, 2023 12:30 pm

the planet populated from 1 to 8 billion in less than two hundred years, and that population explosion began right after the discovery of oil

What is their reaction to that? A smirk. They know that people depend on petroleum and thus have a way to get rid of so many people.

June 17, 2023 8:23 am

Paywalled but I will say a few words about Arizona. It’s possible to survive in the Arizona heat but you need to stay in the shade as much as possible while drinking up to two gallons of water a day. Uncomfortable? Yes but you can survive it without harm. Nights cool down to around 80 and before the days of air-conditioning, people were known to sleep outside on their lawn. You can also use wet towel, a tried and true method of treating heat stroke but it also works to prevent it. At a relative humidity of 10% the dew point gets down to near freezing.
Today with insulation and concrete slap construction, a house can go hours before becoming uncomfortable. There are cooling stations and public buildings you could go to if you’re unable to stay cool.
About 3 years ago we had a fire near a power feeder line from the hydro dam. The power company put out a warning on face book and they were surprised how many people turned up their thermostat reducing the load on the grid. Just 5 degrees change can really help get over a power restriction.
While the power company has to push solar, we still have a pretty good mix of Hydro, Nuclear and natural gas peaking plants though we are losing coal. Just yesterday, the paper published a deal where the power company will be permitted to expand one of their peaking plants. They figure it will only be used a few hundred hours a year but it’s nice to know we have backup for solar and wind.
We live in an environment that can be hostile but we know how to survive in it. Much like somebody who lives in snow country we have the knowledge and tools available to survive what nature can throw at us.

Reply to  Dena
June 17, 2023 12:33 pm

Much like somebody who lives in snow country we have the knowledge and tools available to survive what nature can throw at us.

When the have something to burn.

June 17, 2023 8:40 am

At Laredo, Texas, on Interstate 35 at the border of the U.S. and Mexico, there is a fascinating dance. Due to increased “trade” from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), most Mexican trucks laden with goods bound for U.S. markets cannot legally enter, neither licensed nor legal (i.e., they are unsafe) for U.S. roads. So there are massive switching yards, where Mexican trucks drop their loads and return empty, while U.S. trucks pick up the loads for the trip up I-35 to points beyond. Driving that stretch of I-35 between Laredo and San Antonio, there are seemingly more trucks than cars on the road.

I can just picture the same situation evolving on I-10 and I-40 at the California-Arizona border. Electric trucks limping into Arizona, dumping their loads and recharging (using reliable, fossil-fueled or nuclear Arizona electricity) for the deadhead return trip to California ports.


Reply to  pflashgordon
June 17, 2023 8:59 am

Much of that cargo goes by rail however it might not be as much of an issue. The union has a firm hand on the work rules for the docks. The rules they have in place limits the maximum amount of freight so the shippers are finding other ports to use. Even today something like that is happening. California requires only new trucks with the latest pollution systems. Some companies use newer trucks for California then change over once they get to Arizona.

Smart Rock
June 17, 2023 8:51 am

make preserving conditions for life on planet Earth the priority rather than keeping the lights on

By building more bird-slicers and killing whales as you install them offshore?

An excellent example of doublethink in action.

June 17, 2023 9:13 am

The lefty warmunists fail to recognize the primary engineering maxim–” never change something until the replacement has been proven to work.”

June 17, 2023 1:53 pm

Electrification works for houses so of course it will work for transportation. So long as all you want is to keep your car warm and clean.

June 17, 2023 1:57 pm

Having lived off the grid for 20 years using solar power to keep the batteries charged I was constantly reminded of the value of a 120 amp alternator bolted to a small diesel.

June 17, 2023 6:45 pm

“The California Energy Commission estimates the state will need 157,000 high-capacity chargers by 2030 to service electric trucks. Big numbers, but what do they mean? Is that a lot or a little? How does one add context?”

That we should buy copper futures?

Therein is the deadly fault of alleged renewable energy is massive consumption of scare commodities.

He gave another example: “A California company tried to electrify 12 forklifts. Not trucks, but forklifts. Local power utilities told them that’s not possible.”

What is this? A joke?

We used battery powered forklifts where I worked back in the 1980s.

Of course, businesses would be foolish to charge or discharge lithium devices indoors if they desire to keep those buildings.
Meanwhile, lead acid battery forklifts have been used for decades.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 19, 2023 1:37 am

The lead acid forklifts having the very handy advantage of the batteries giving a lot of extra dead weight to balance the stuff at the end of the forks, and the fact LEAD in them is easily and constantly recycled.

I remember being offered a forklift for next to nothing….reason being the batteries (costing a fair bit) were dead….well at least no thanks, but it was actually a viable deal –
– prefer propane power, as do most factories and warehouses…

The mind boggles when the Lithium stuff dies within the next 4-5 yrs… teslas and all inc.
Same as 2nd hand Iphones, you already can’t give ’em away.

I already saw 1st gen EVs have such massive price/value erosion/depreciation, it’s gonna be “2nd hand EV for sale,- battery DOA, – how much you pay me to dump it”?

Tesla Model S
eg Tesla Model S
£95,980 Price when new
Residual value
Percentage retained

Diesel / HDI cars keep their value even at high mileage.

June 17, 2023 8:30 pm

“I will point out that a dozen lawyers of any stripe” Would that make them Tiger Sharks?

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