I recently spent three days attending events for Earth Day 2017 in Dallas. While it can be challenging at times to deal with the misconceptions of the anti-oil and gas opponents we cannot leave the marketplace of ideas to them alone. That Thursday I attended an alternative fuel vehicle seminar and on Friday I attended a seminar on responsible shale energy extraction. Finally, on Saturday I spoke on a panel (aimed at the general earth day attendee) on alternative fuel vehicles. My purpose was to present CNG-fueled vehicles as good alternatives to the status quo.
Thursday’s alternative fuel seminar had three major panel discussions: natural gas-fueled vehicles, bio-fueled vehicles, and electric vehicles. There was a night and day difference between the three panels. The panel on natural gas vehicles was full of facts, figures, and substantive discussion on the money that can be saved by using natural gas as fuel, about the environmental benefits of using clean burning gas, and the economic and geopolitical benefits of using a plentiful, domestic energy supply. The other two panels used, in my opinion, emotional arguments and scare tactics such as the discredited peak oil theory and hysteria about oil and gas destroying the earth. I think it is immoral to use crop land for fuel production when we have a plentiful and cheap source of oil and gas. Regarding electric cars, the “greenness” of electric cars can vary substantially depending on what fuel source generates the electricity, the efficiency of the grid, and how much rare earth and other natural resources are used in producing the equipment used to generate the electricity.
Friday’s seminar on responsible shale energy extraction was better balanced. I would say most of the presenters wanted economic growth and oil and gas production in a safe, responsible, environmentally friendly manner. However, there were a few environmentalists that hate oil and gas production and won’t be happy until we are all back living in caves. The oil and gas industry must remain engaged in the marketplace of ideas. Many people are not inherently hostile to oil and gas production but they want it as safe and with as little impact as possible. If we don’t engage with them, all they will hear are the voices of the anti-oil and gas groups. I want to thank those that put on and participated in the responsible shale energy extraction seminar; especially Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton.
Yes, it was alien territory for me. But at a time when the marketplace for ideas is shrinking due to political-correctness and intolerance, Earth Day Texas had a place for Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals and environmentalists all to exhibit and participate. I have in the past thought of Earth Day as an anti-freedom, anti-market totalitarian celebration. Some of those elements were in attendance but I felt that due to Trammel Crow’s leadership Earth Day Texas was an open forum for all those who believe we need a clean, safe and economically vibrant environment, even though we don’t agree on all the details of how to get there.
About the author: David Porter served six years as a Texas Railroad Commissioner (2011-2017) chairman (2015-2016) and as Vice Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission 2016. Prior to serving on the commission, Porter spent 30 years in Midland, Texas as a CPA working with oil and gas producers, service companies and royalty owners. Since leaving the commission, Porter is working as a consultant for oil and gas companies. He is also serving as chairman of the 98th Meridian Foundation, a non-profit concerned with water, energy and land issues.