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.

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.

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.

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]

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.

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]

Key Quotes

“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]

“… 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

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.” [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 am 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

A large list of Bryce's publications is available at the Manhattan Institute website. Here is a list of his publications at the Energy Tribune.

The Manhattan institute also lists the following “research” by Bryce:

Books

 Resources

  1. Robert Bryce,” Profile at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Accessed April 20, 2012.

  2. Bio,” Robertbryce.com. Accessed April 19, 2012.

  3. Who Is Robert Bryce?” Media Transparency, October 7, 2011.

  4. Five Truths About Climate Change,” The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2011. Republished by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

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

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

  7. Letter To The New York Times,” TrueTies, October 6, 2011.

  8. Robert Bryce. “The Gas Is Greener,” The New York Times, June 7, 2011.

  9. Arthur S. Brisbane. “The Times Gives Them Space, but Who Pays Them?The New York Times, October 29, 2011.

  10. Phony Fracking Fears for NY,” New York Post, December 15, 2011.

  11. America Needs the Shale Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2012. Retreived from Robertbryce.com.

  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,” SourceWatch.

  15. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Robert Bryce.

  16. Robert Bryce (writer),” Wikipedia Entry.

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Today, legislative and lobbyist members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) voted on model legislation promoting both exports of gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)

Dubbed a “...

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