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Trump on Energy: "The Best of Any President Since Reagan"? Q/A With Alex Epstein

The author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels on global warming, fracking, Ayn Rand, and the president-elect.

"What [Trump] has said about energy...is the best of any president since Reagan," says Alex Epstein, who is the president and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, a think tank devoted to exploring how new technology can improve the planet. Trump, says Epstein, has so far been an advocate for "Americans to reach their full energy potential."The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels |||

Epstein is the author of the excellent 2014 book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, which, in his signature, clear-eyed style, argues that cheap and abundant hydrocarbons have made human flourishing possible. (Read Ron Bailey's 2015 review.) "Man...survives by impacting nature," he told Reason's Nick Gillespie. The environmental movement, however, "says [this] essence of human survival is bad. And that's wrong."

In our latest podcast, Epstein and Gillespie discuss hydraulic fracking ("our energy prosperity has depended on the ignorance of politicians"), global warming (he prefers the phrase "climate danger"), solar and wind power ("the unreliables"), Ayn Rand's influence on his work, and what we can expect from Trump on energy.

Click below to listen to that conversation—or subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm not using climate danger. I'll stick with Atmo-Death.

  • ||

    Just look at it this way, because there is no other logical or realistic way to look at it. We have to make economical and technological progress and that includes energy. And no, going back to the dark ages because there might be some warming and because green energy feels good is not included in what I'm referring to as progress. We either use fossil fuels until there is a viable alternative, or we go back to subsistence at best, or we die out as a species. You want to live as a hunter gatherer in a brutal and unforgiving existence and die at age 20? Go ahead, but you're not dragging the rest of us along with you.

    Will Trump be the best on energy since Reagan? Like everything else Trump, I will not even make a hint at speculation. The guy is completely unknown, has never served in any public office, ever, and skips right to the highest office in the land. I hope it turns out more good than bad.

  • ||

    What we need is a big ACME stop climate change anvil I say.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels on global warming, fracking, Ayn Rand, and the president-elect.

    I think I'm going to have to come down on the "Using Ayn Rand or Trump as fossil fuels is immoral" side of the argument.

  • ||

    Stormy Dragon, predictably talking like clueless commie, water is wet, news at 11.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hyp, he was making a joke.

  • ant1sthenes||

    No, it says "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels on... Ayn Rand, and the president-elect". Must be talking about tarring and feathering? But they actually used pine tar for that, so it's historically inaccurate.

  • Suell||

    That is an excellent book, highly recommend it.

  • Sevo||

    On the Amazon list; gracias.

  • westernsloper||

    Being an on the bench oil and gas worker, (due to market forces not of the free kind and whatever else causes whatever) I vow to sell something and donate the proceeds to Reason if they keep up interviews like this as well as make the "fake news" list for stories about what the SPLC says.

    However, I will get Mr Epsteins book because that was a great interview.

    Thanks

  • IceTrey||

    Epstein is wrong. The solution to the world's energy needs was invented 50 years ago, the Molten Salt Thorium Reactor. Thorium is literally the best fuel. That fact that the entire planet is not run on thorium is the greatest crime against humanity in history.

  • Sevo||

    I know the 'market' for nuclear energy is far from free, but it would still tend toward solutions better than the existing over time.
    You've been pitching that for as long as I can remember. I've read about it as well as I can from the web; seems both heavily politicized and not nearly as differentiated from plain ol' U fission as you suggest.
    Regardless, I doubt it will have much effect on transportation absent some real advances in battery tech, and from the lack of progress there (given the YUGE incentives to do so), I'm hypothesizing that there is some basic chem/phys limitation on energy density via storing electrons.
    So while I really can't gripe, no one who can make money from it has chosen to pursue it, I have doubts and that still ignores the battery/transport problem.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    If you have effectively unlimited amounts of eletrical and thermal power via nukes you just synthesize methane or longer chain hydrocarbons from atmospheric CO2 and water. No infrastructure change required and you'll get perfectly clean fuel, i.e. no sulfur or other contaminants.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    YOU. DO. NOT. NEED. THORIUM.

  • Robert||

    ...say the giants.

  • Nunya||

    I hear there is work being done on newer salt reactors, but I don't think they expected anything commercially ready before 2030.

  • Nunya||

    Had anyone else had Solar City come by and try to talk them into solar panels for the house? It's quite the racket. They "provide" you electricity by putting solar panels on your house without payment in the hopes you won't consume more electricity than the panels produce. The kickers? You never own the panels unless you go for the balloon payment at the end, which is only at the end of their expected life, and they still want to charge 11 cents per KWh. "Free energy" apparently ain't free. Ever.

  • MikeT1986||

    In CT there is also a fair amount of tax money thrown at you and SC to do this. Which is just peachy in a state that gets like 4 months of good sun light for such things and is packed to the gills with trees. The 2 hours of sunlight my roof gets would just make a fantastic investment, really saving the environment.

  • phrispirit||

    That was such a calm, reasonable & informational discussion.

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