Robert Bryce

Robert Bryce

Credentials

  • B.F.A., University of Texas at Austin (1986). [1]

Background

Robert Bryce is an American author and journalist based in Austin, Texas. [17] He has regularly been cited as an “expert” on energy issues in the media, but has been under increased scrutiny after writing numerous articles in media outlets that did not disclose his ties to the fossil fuel industry. [16]

Many of Bryce's articles have been on the energy business. He spent 12 years writing for The Austin Chronicle. From 2006 to September 2010 he worked as the managing editor of the online publication Energy Tribune[17]

From October 2007 to February 2008 he was a fellow at the Institute for Energy Research (IER). In April, 2010 he joined the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow in its Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. [2][17]

The Manhattan Institute is a policy think tank that has received significant funding from both ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. According to media transparency, the Manhattan Institute has been known to “obscure” science supporting man-made climate change. [3]

Bryce has been unwilling to answer questions about the funding the Manhattan Institute receives from the fossil fuel industry. [15]

Stance on Climate Change

“The science is not settled, not by a long shot. […] If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, even if we accept that carbon dioxide is bad, it’s not clear exactly what we should do about it.” [4]

“On the science of global climate change, I'm an agnostic. I've seen Al Gore's movie, and I've read reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I've also listened to the 'skeptics.' I don't know who's right.” [5]

Key Quotes

“[W]e should be cheering the news that coal use is rising. For it means that more people are escaping the darkness and joining the modern world.” [25]

”[…] the job [at the Manhattan Institute] gives me a platform where I can focus on the themes that I explored in both Gusher of Lies and Power Hungry: that the myths about “green” energy are largely just that, myths; that hydrocarbons are here to stay; and that if we are going to pursue the best “no regrets” policy with regard to energy, then we should be avidly promoting natural gas and nuclear energy.” [6]

“It’s time to move the debate past the dogmatic view that carbon dioxide is evil and toward a world view that accepts the need for energy that is cheap, abundant and reliable.” [4]

Key Deeds

May 15, 2016

Robert Bryce published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “An Ill Wind: Open Season on Bald Eagles“ criticizing new regulations put in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) governing the accidental harming of bald and golden eagles. According to Bryce, the FWS is “trying to make it easier for the wind industry to kill” eagles. [19]

On May 6, the blog Daily Kos predicted Bryce's piece, saying Bryce and the Journal would likely contribute a “fresh round of fossil fuel-penned pieces crying crocodile tears for birds” shortly after the FWS regulations were announced: [20]

“Bryce wrote op-eds attacking wind power in February, October and November 2013, which are all similar to one he wrote in 2009, and just like what he wrote in 2015. Since he already attacked wind power back in February of this year, one might think the WSJ editors wouldn’t want to go back to him for essentially a rerun of the same op-ed. But the WSJ has published over twenty of his pieces since 2009, all of which are either explicitly anti-wind or pro-fossil fuels,” Daily Kos writes.

Media Matters notes that Bryce's Op-Ed piece is “misleading”: [21]

“Bryce complained that the new rules would allow wind energy producers to kill or injure up to 4,200 eagles per year and hyped data showing that wind turbines were responsible for about 573,000 total bird deaths (not just eagles) in 2012. But as the Daily Kos piece explained, it is misleading to cite these figures without explaining that wind turbines are responsible for only 'about 3 percent of human-caused eagle deaths' and that other factors – including the oil and gas industry and climate change – are a much greater threat to birds than wind energy. “

February 7, 2016

Robert Bryce published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal “attacking [Bernie] sanders' renewable energy plan,” reports Media Matters. [23]

In the op-ed, Bryce claimed that Sanders “better check with his Vermont constituents about the popularity of wind energy.” He adds, “Nowhere is the backlash [against wind energy] stronger than in Mr. Sanders's state.” [24]

According to Media Matters, Bryce's statement is not accurate: “ despite the presence of a vocal minority who oppose large-scale wind projects, support for wind energy development is actually very strong in the Green Mountain State.” They cite a 2014 poll by Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) that found 71 percent of Vermonters support building wind turbines along the state's ridgelines, while only 23 percent oppose wind energy development.  [23]

June 22, 2015

Robert Bryce wrote a column in the National Review titled “The Poor Need More Energy: What BP Knows and Pope Francis Doesn't,” where he  maintained that the best, low-cost energy source for developing countries is coal. [14]
 
According to Bryce, “[Pope Francis's] new encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’ (Be praised), shows a shallow understanding of global energy use and, in particular, of how energy consumption is soaring among the people he claims to care most about: the poor.” 
“But if developing countries are going to prepare for possible changes in the climate, they will have to get richer so they can afford to deal with any calamities that may occur. And how will they get richer? The answer is obvious: by consuming more energy. And for countries throughout the developing world, the lowest-cost energy is still coal,” Bryce writes. [14]

February 25, 2014

Robert Bryce testified before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works where he contends that “federally subsidized efforts that are being undertaken to, in theory, address climate change, are damaging America’s wildlife.” [26]

Bryce focused his attacks the wind industry: 

“Given the studies already done on wind energy’s deleterious impact on wildlife, combined with the 'energy sprawl' that will come with the industry’s continuing expansion, it is virtually certain that as the wind sector adds more turbines, more federally protected wildlife – including more bald eagles, an animal that has been on the Great Seal of the United States since 1782 – will be killed.[xl] And thanks to the production tax credit, taxpayers will be subsidizing the slaughter.

The question at hand is obvious: why are policymakers implementing an energy policy that is a known killer of wildlife in exchange for what are infinitesimally small reductions in carbon dioxide emissions?” [26]

October, 2011

An October 2011 Petition submitted by the Checks and Balances Project complained about Bryce, pointing to “a disturbing trend of special interests surreptitiously funding “experts” to push industry talking points in the nation’s major media outlets.” [7]

DeSmogBlog reported on this issue here, and here.

According to the letter, “pundits like Mr. Bryce have the right to share their views, but we believe media outlets have the responsibility to inform their readers of opinion writers’ true ties and conflicts of interest.”

It appears that an Op-Ed by Bryce titled “the Gas is Greener” which criticizes renewable energy including wind projects and reports to expose hidden costs and “deep contradictions” in the “renewable energy movement.” [8]

Signatories asked the New York Times to set the standard by revealing the ties of these “expertS” and ensuring readers get the full story.

New York Times editor Arthur S. Brisbane responded, dismissing the petition's request and saying that “I don’t think Mr. Bryce is masquerading as anything: experts generally have a point of view. And the Manhattan Institute’s dependence on this category of funding is slight — about 2.5 percent of its budget over the past 10 years. But the issue of authorial transparency is an important one, albeit one that isn't always simple.” [9]

August 11, 2011

According to SourceWatch, Bryce was a featured speaker at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting at a workshop titled “Unconventional Revolution: How Technological Advancements Have Transformed Energy Production in the United States.”

The panel advocated the process of fracking for reaching unconventional gas reserves. Bryce has also published articles in favour of fracking and in one example where he presents the often-repeated industry claim that fracking poses “minimal risk” to groundwater.  He stressed that New York “can’t afford to be left behind in the shale revolution.” [18][10]

In a June 13, 2011 piece published in the Wall Street Journal he wrote that the “shale revolution now underway is the best news for North American energy since the discovery of the East Texas Field in 1930.” [11]

May 12, 2010

Bryce wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times revealing his opposition to the implementation of carbon capture technology. 

He was particularly critical of a senate energy bill introduced by John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman which would include incentives of $2 billion per year for carbon capture and sequestration.

Bryce wrote “That's a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering. Lawmakers should stop perpetuating the hope that the technology can help make huge cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.”

He also predicted public opposition to carbon dioxide sequestration areas, writing how “few landowners are eager to have pipelines built across their property. And because of the possibility of deadly leaks, few people will to want to live near a pipeline or an underground storage cavern. This leads to the obvious question: which members of the House and Senate are going to volunteer their states to be dumping grounds for all that carbon dioxide?” [12]

April 8, 2009

Wrote an article titled “Let Exxon Run the Energy Dept.” in The Daily Beast. The article is strongly critical of the Obama Administration which he claims is “working to marginalize America's single biggest sector, the sliver of the economy that produces our most essential commodities: gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, coal (which provides about half of the country’s electricity) and natural gas.”

Bryce writes “the U.S. has never had a secretary of Energy who has actually drilled an oil well, built a nuclear power plant, or dug coal out of the ground. Indeed, actual experience in the energy business appears to be grounds for disqualification. This is stunning.”

In conclusion, Bryce suggests that maybe we should include more people representing the energy industry in government: “Maybe—just maybe—those energy companies aren’t so villainous after all. And here’s another wacky thought: Maybe—just maybe—we should have a few people in government who really understand how the energy business works.” [13]

Affiliations

Publications

Many of Robert Bryce's recent articles can be viewed at RobertBryce.com. In 2011, Media Matters noted 39 times that Robert Bryce appeared in the media where sources failed to mention his ties to the oil industry. [3]

Bloomberg

Media Matters reports that Bloomberg has published several columns by Robert Bryce without disclosing that he is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy Policy and the Environment, which has received significant funding from ExxonMobil. Some of Bryce's cited publications below: [22]

Manhattan Institute

Some sample Manhattan Institute Publications below:

In the past, the Manhattan institute also listed “research” by Robert Bryce: [27]

Books

Other Recent Publications

Robert Bryce has contributing hundreds of articles to multiple news sources, often attacking renewable energy sources and environmentalists while encouraging the use of fossil fuels and coal power. View the attached spreadsheet for samples of Robert Bryce's latest publications (.xlsx).

Resources

  1. Robert Bryce,” Profile at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Archived May 26, 2016.

  2. Bio,” Robertbryce.com. Archived May 26, 2016. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6hmTUbf60

  3. Who Is Robert Bryce?” Media Transparency, October 7, 2011. Archived May 26, 2016.

  4. Five Truths About Climate Change,” The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2011. Republished by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Archived July 6, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  5. Robert Bryce. “If More CO2 Is Bad … Then What?The Austin Chronicle, December 7, 2007. Archived May 26, 2016.

  6. Robert Bryce. “Farewell: My Final Column for Energy Tribune,” September 30, 2010. Archived May 26, 2016.

  7. Letter To The New York Times,” TrueTies, October 6, 2011. Archived May 26, 2016.

  8. Robert Bryce. “The Gas Is Greener,” The New York Times, June 7, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  9. Arthur S. Brisbane. “The Times Gives Them Space, but Who Pays Them?The New York Times, October 29, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  10. Robert Bryce. ”Phony Franking Fears for NY,” New York Post, December 15, 2011. Archived July 6, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  11. Robert Bryce. ”America Needs the Shale Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  12. Robert Bryce. “A Bad Bet on Carbon,” The New York Times (Opinion), May 12, 2010.

  13. Robert Bryce. “Let Exxon Run the Energy Dept.” The Daily Beast, April 8, 2009.

  14. Robert Bryce. “The Poor Need More Energy: What BP Knows and Pope Francis Doesn't,” National Review, June 22, 2015. Archived September 5, 2015.

  15. Brendan DeMelle. “Accountability Moment: Manhattan Institute's Robert Bryce Squirms And Evades Question on Fossil Fuel Funding,” DeSmogBlog, February 9, 2012.

  16. Farron Cousins. “Robert Bryce – The Media’s Industry-Funded Go-To Guy,” DeSmogBlog, October 12, 2011.

  17. About Bryce,” RobertBryce.com. Archived October 3, 2010. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  18. Robert Bryce. “How fracking lies triumphed,” New York Daily News, January 22, 2012. Archived May 26, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6hmSizDSE

  19. Robert Bryce. “An Ill Wind: Open Season on Bald Eagles,” Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  20. The Birds and the ‘Bines: Wind Turbine Regulations Revised,” Daily Kos, May 6, 2016. Archived May 26, 2016.

  21. Andrew Seifter. “Big Oil Cheerleader Robert Bryce Predictably Misleads On Wind Energy And Eagle Deaths In WSJ,” Media Matters for America, May 16, 2016. Archived May 26, 2016

  22. Why Has Bloomberg Given Robert Bryce A Platform To Attack Renewables Without Disclosing That Oil Pays His Salary?” Media Matters for America, June 9, 2015. Archived May 26, 2016.

  23. Andrew Seifter. “Bernie Sanders' Wind Energy Plan Falsely Attacked By Big Oil Ally, With Help From The Wall Street Journal,” Media Matters for America, February 8, 2016. Archived May 26, 2016.

  24. The Windmills of Bernie's Mind,” The Wall Street Journal. Republished by the Manhattan Institute, February 8, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  25. Robert Bryce. “Coal use is soaring – that's good news,” The Hill, December 22, 2014. Archived May 26, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6hnZoXg9b

  26. U.S. Senate Testimony: Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change,” RobertBryce.com, February 25, 2014. Archived May 26, 2016. Webcite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6hnaxQpe1

  27. Robert Bryce,” Manhattan Institute. Archived July 6, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

Other Resources

File attachments: