(A Cold) Winter is Coming

By Matt Patterson, October 7, 2021

In the last several weeks, the TXEnergyProject has highlighted the necessity of energy independence and innovation in Texas, as well as the United States. In a prescient post from early August 2021, TXEnergyProject’s Michael Geary pointed out that, if the United States is to remain a source of affordable, reliable energy, Green New Deal-style policies and reliance on foreign production are not the answer:

If President Biden wants to make gas affordable, he needs to stop listening to “green” policy experts. He needs to start supporting pipeline infrastructure and allowing our natural resources on federal lands to be safely developed. Calling for more oil production from OPEC+ isn’t the answer. If we need more oil production, we only need to look beneath our feet here in America.[i]

Domestic energy independence and reliability is now more important than ever in light of the recent global energy crunch that is plaguing most of Europe and China. The crisis, which has created sky-high natural gas and power prices, has moved beyond natural gas and is now disrupting economic forecasts and supply chains. With winter on the horizon and plummeting temperatures on the way, European countries are scrambling to ensure their citizens aren’t left out in the cold. “It could get very ugly unless we act quickly to try to fill every inch of storage,” said the CEO of an Italian energy infrastructure company, Marco Alvera.[ii] As energy reliability becomes scarcer, Europe is turning to a source of fuel that will undoubtedly make climate activists squirm: Russian coal. Bloomberg details just how dire the situation is:

Power producers in the continent are being forced to ask Russia for more coal to ease an energy crunch with winter approaching and record-high gas prices denting profitability, according to officials at two Russian coal companies. But they may be left stranded as any increase in exports from the country won’t be substantial, they said.[iii]

Relying on Russian coal (or any energy source from Russia) is not a position that Europe would like to be in. However, even if Europe is able to utilize coal power, these imports alone won’t solve the crisis. Russia has mainly directed its coal sales to Asia as the market there continues to grow, and Russia alone does not have the capacity to supply Europe with the needed amounts before winter.[iv] As World Oil explains, “…countries from the UK to Germany will need to count on mild temperatures to get through the heating season. Europe is short of gas and coal and if the wind doesn’t blow, the worst-case scenario could play out: widespread blackouts that force businesses and factories to shut.”[v] Hoping for a mild winter isn’t exactly the most stable of energy policies, to say the least.

Some of the crisis and supply issues have been caused by COVID-19 and general supply-chain disruptions. But this type of crisis has been a long time in the making for Europe and is largely self-inflicted:

The unprecedented energy crunch has been brewing for years, with Europe growing increasingly dependent on intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar while investments in fossil fuels declined. Environmental policy has also pushed some countries to shut their coal and nuclear fleets, reducing the number of power plants that could serve as back-up in times of shortages.[vi]

Axios indicates that “EU carbon permit policies, lighter winds, and constrained Russian supply ”have created a “perfect storm” in Europe.[vii] The rapid transition from fossil fuels to unreliable “green” energy sources has exacerbated an issue that will get worse as countries continue to decrease natural gas production and double down on wind and solar energy sources. As TXEnergyProject has argued, clean energy production is important and should be utilized, but a blanket replacement of fossil fuels is bad policy that could be catastrophic.

If the United States is not careful, the current energy crisis in Europe could be a glimpse into the future for Americans. In some cases, it is already here. Since taking office, President Biden has abandoned natural gas pipeline projects, frozen oil and gas production on public lands, and largely capitulated to the demands of climate activists who will settle for nothing short of a complete overhaul of energy production. Andrew Stuttaford of National Review states that “It doesn’t help that many climate warriors are also opposed to nuclear (something that should be part of the long-term solution), and have also rejected natural gas, which, if nothing else, would make the best “bridge” fuel source that there probably is.” [viii] In short, President Biden is following in Europe’s footsteps and jeopardizing our energy independence.

The crisis in Europe and reliance on foreign energy underscore just how important it is for Texas to continue to lead the nation in energy production and push back against harmful energy policies from an administration that is more concerned with the Paris Agreement than it is with the people of Paris, Texas.

[i] https://www.txenergyproject.org/post/president-biden-let-us-use-our-own-natural-resources [ii] https://www.worldoil.com/news/2021/9/17/europe-faces-a-winter-energy-crisis-years-in-the-making [iii] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-30/europe-asking-russia-for-more-coal-is-set-for-disappointment?mc_cid=9b8cc0cebe&mc_eid=d3c9eb6088&sref=KgEBWdKh [iv] Ibid. [v] https://www.worldoil.com/news/2021/9/17/europe-faces-a-winter-energy-crisis-years-in-the-making [vi] Ibid. [vii] https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/10/the-energy-crunch-spreads-but-climate-campaigners-press-on/ [viii] https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/10/the-energy-crunch-spreads-but-climate-campaigners-press-on/