Fare Thee Well, Platts Energy Week with Bill Loveless: A Top-Five Appreciation

by William Yeatman on December 27, 2014

in Blog

Regular readers know that this blog long has been a big fan of Platts Energy Week with Bill Loveless, which, sadly, no longer will be filming after tomorrow morning’s show. Indeed, on a regular basis over the last 18 months, I recapped the show’s best interview here on GlobalWarming.org within a day or two of Sunday’s airing. “Invaluable” was my modifier of choice when introducing the program. Wistfully, then, I present my personal favorite five Platts Energy Week segments:

5. Devon Energy Chairman Puts Lie to Claim That Feds Were at Heart of Fracking Breakthrough (episode 8/4/13)

In early August, 2013, Bill Loveless interviewed Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy; the topic was the legacy of George Mitchell, the relentless entrepreneur who perfected breakthroughs in drilling technology, collectively known as fracking, that unleashed an American energy renaissance. Mitchell had died on July 26th. In the early aughts, Devon invested in Mitchell’s ideas, and together they pioneered and deployed the new technologies. The highlight of the interview is when Mr. Nichols puts the lie to the mistaken contention that federal support was the sine qua non of the fracking breakthrough.


4. Any Segment with Bobby McMahon (episodes 7/19/14, 12/7/14, 4/20/14)

Previously, McMahon had worked at InsideEPA, which is a class shop (like Platts), so he knows his stuff. He’s also adept at explaining complex matters in an accessible fashion on television. Here, he succinctly summarizes a consequential D.C. Circuit ruling that struck down a FERC incentive for so-called “demand side management” (episode 7/19/14); in this segment, he ably explains how a series of court cases is shaping the lines of jurisdiction between state and federal government pursuant to the 1935 Federal Power Act (episode12/7/14); and here he describes the reliability impact of EPA’s absurd Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a.k.a. the Utility MACT (episode 4/20/14).

3. Rep. Pete Olson Endears (episode 7/19/14)

Before this interview, I’d never heard Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) speak. He’s a peculiar monotone cadence that sounds sorta like Boomhauer from King of the Hill. Interesting voices aside, Rep. Olson’s performance on Platts was first rate.

About a third of the way through the interview, Host Bill Loveless referenced a couple recent refinery accidents, and questioned Rep. Olson about whether the industry should be subject to greater regulatory scrutiny.

He answered, in effect, that refining entails the manipulation of volatile gases under high pressures at high temperatures and, as such, it cannot be risk-free. However—and this is his key insight—this state of risk is equally true for much of the advanced engineering on which modern society relies—from driving cars to building houses.  Humans make mistakes; ergo risk. The question then becomes: Is [further] federal regulation based on reasonable risk-management? Or is it championed by special interests for which fossil fuels are “dirty” and therefore evil, per se?


2. FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller: Rolling Blackouts “Are a Possibility,” Thanks to EPA’s Utility MACT (episode 4/27/14)

1. Subsurface Property Rights: The Key to the American Energy Renaissance (episode 12/21/14)

My favorite interview compliments perfectly my fifth favorite interview. Number 5 on the list above pertains to how government didn’t create the “fracking” revolution in oil and gas drilling (contrary to what many claim); number 1 on this list regards how subsurface property rights were, on the other hand, the essential “policy” catalyst for the American energy boon.

According to Platts Director of News John Kingston during last Sunday’s show,

It was the right of private people to own their own mineral rights which really has been one of the sources of the boom. It turns out that was the key to our energy policy.

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