This Year in Energy and Environment: 2019 Edition

With 2020 upon us, I’d like to reflect back on 2019 because it was a banner year for energy and environmental issues here at Center of the American Experiment. Here are some of the highlights from each month.

In January, American Experiment submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service in support of the lease renewal for the Twin Metals Minnesota mine. Since then Twin Metals has submitted its mine plan to state and federal agencies for review. We also covered the fact that wind and solar were not working during Polar Vortex in real time, highlighting the dangers of relying upon unreliable, weather-dependent resources like wind and solar when we need energy most.

In February, I testified in front of the Minnesota House of Representatives multiple times and once in the Minnesota Senate explaining why wind and solar are more expensive and far less reliable than coal, natural gas, and nuclear power and why it would be an incredibly bad idea to mandate that 100 percent of our electricity come from wind, solar, and batteries.

In March, we released Doubling Down on Failure: How a 50 Percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion on the same day Governor Walz announced is 100 percent carbon-free energy mandate that did not allow large hydro to qualify as “carbon free” and did not lift Minnesota’s ban on building new nuclear power plants. We also found that just 24 hours of battery storage in Minnesota would cost $133 billion, yet somehow Governor Walz and liberal members of the House of Representatives still think wind, solar, and storage will reduce your electric bill. We also detailed how rising electricity prices would hurt mining in Minnesota.

In April, I took to the pages of the Pioneer Press to bet Governor Walz a month’s salary that his energy policies would cause electricity prices to rise. He did not respond. American Experiment also refuted the bogus “Clean Energy Jobs Report,” which artificially inflated their job numbers by counting HVAC and window installers as “clean energy jobs.” I spoke at a major mining conference in Minnesota and shared our findings that newly published resource estimates show copper nickel mining could have an even larger impact on Minnesota’s economy than our 2018 report initially reported. Lastly, we found that just one Korean nuclear reactor would generate as much electricity as Minnesota’s entire wind fleet.

In May, the cover story of Thinking Minnesota showed the stark differences between Candidate Tim Walz and Governor Tim Walz. Nowhere were the differences between these two versions of the same person more apparent than energy and environmental issues. We released a video summary of Doubling Down on Failure, and Mitch Rolling and I wrote a multi-part series exposing how Fresh Energy, one of the largest renewable boosters in the state, is  intentionally misleading Minnesotans on energy issues.

In June, we explained why Xcel Energy’s plan to shutter its coal plants decades before the end of their useful lifetime and replace them with wind, solar, and natural gas was an incredibly bad idea. I also discussed how China is building 89 (!) Sherco’s which will swamp any emissions reductions we achieve in Minnesota by prematurely shutting down our coal. We also detailed how every wind turbine and solar panel built today will be scrap metal by 2050.

In July, I was invited to the White House to hear President Trump’s address on the environment where I got a picture with Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler and told him about Doubling Down on Failure. He waived an aide over to get my card and asked me to email him the report. My trip to the White House inspired me to begin a series called Capitalism is Saving the Planet, which I plan to continue in 2020. I also exposed the “Conservative” Energy Forum for what it is, a liberal-funded front group that attempts to mislead conservatives into supporting wind and solar, even though these energy sources would never survive in a free market.

In August, I presented on the findings of Doubling Down on Failure at The Heartland Institute’s Emerging Issues Forum in Austin, Texas, where a lack of wind during blistering hot days caused electricity prices to skyrocket by 40,000 percent. Utility data from North Carolina showed that solar power was actually increasing ozone pollution in the state.

In September, we chastised Sam Rockwell and others for their clueless advocacy of banning natural gas use in new buildings in Minneapolis, Bernie Sanders got walloped by a speed bag, it became known that the McKnight Foundation was funding an ethically dubious job for Jamie Long, a Democratic legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives, to act as a “truth squad” to debunk the work of a local right-wing think tank. Long resigned shortly after the details of his hiring came to light. Governor Walz also announced his plan to impose California car mandates on Minnesota.

In October, it was announced that Doubling Down on Failure won the Bob Williams Award for Most Influential Research! Thanks to everyone who voted for us.

Also in October, I wrote about how Xcel Energy estimates it will cost $532,000 to decommission a single wind turbine. This article was read more than 200,000 times on our website and was translated into several languages and reposted around the world. Minnesota environmental groups won a suit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for not regulating greenhouse gas emissions from a dairy farm setting a dangerous new precedent for Minnesota farmers. It also became known that Xcel Energy sponsored the gala of the environmental group who sued MPCA for not regulating the emissions from the dairy farm. Lastly, California shut off the power to 2.5 million people because they spent $44 billion on renewables, and just $1.5 billion maintaining their infrastructure.

In November, Xcel Energy announced its desire to impose a massive increase in electricity costs on Minnesotans. Predictably, the media got the story wrong, which is why we did the hard work of calculating that this increase would cost the average household nearly $200 more per year. Mitch Rolling wrote about how Xcel Energy customers pay the highest electricity prices in Minnesota, and it isn’t even close. MIT also released a study showing electric cars may never be as economic as traditional cars. Lastly, we asked for your help in telling Governor Walz that we don’t want his California car mandates in Minnesota, and boy did you deliver.

In December, American Experiment submitted their 27-page comments explaining why the California car mandates are wrong for Minnesota. Our work on this issue triggered outrage by liberal energy groups like DeSmogBlog, who estimate that you all accounted for 13 percent of all the comments submitted.

This made heads explode on the other side because they are not used to having strong opposition to their regulations, but we have shown that together, we are a powerful force opposing bad energy policy in our beloved state.

We also unearthed an Xcel Energy slide that shows the cost of 100 percent wind, solar, and batteries would cause wholesale electricity prices to reach $1.60 per kilowatt hour, which means your Green New Electric Bill would be more than $1,000 per month! There is no way renewable energy groups can honestly argue that these policies will reduce costs for consumers.

If you noticed the summaries got briefer as I went along, its because this took longer than I thought it would because we produced a lot of quality content in 2019, and  with your support, we will surpass this impressive year in 2020. I want to raise $600,000 every year to work on energy and environmental issues. While this sounds ambitious, we can reach my goal with 5,000 people giving $10 per month.

Even if we reach this ambitious goal, we will be outspent 50:1 from McKnight Foundation-funded groups, and I’m sure the staffing ratio is even more lopsided. While this can feel daunting at times, I know that we will emerge victorious in these debates because the facts are on our side, and we will work harder than they do. In short, we have more grit.

Please consider donating here if you have the means to help us reach our goal for energy and environmental issues. You will not find an organization in the state that has done more to stop Governor Walz’s Green New Deal than ours.

Lastly, I’d like to extend a special thanks to Mitch Rolling. Much of the research above could not have been done without his tireless work crunching numbers and digging through arcane government documents and utility rate cases. Here’s to 2020.