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February 19, 2021 08:54 AM UTC

Rep. Ken Buck Doesn't Know How Anything Works

  • by: Colorado Pols
Rep. Ken Buck (R).

CBS4 Denver reports that Rep. Ken Buck, outgoing chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, is calling for Gov. Jared Polis to “boost” natural gas production in Colorado–after the state of Texas temporarily shut off exports of natural gas in order to restore stable electricity service to what’s become derisively known in recent days as the “Freedom Grid.”

Colorado has the second largest natural gas reserve in the county but production has dropped over the last couple of years. Rep. Buck said Gov. Polis should take action now to increase production.

“I understand the governor has a goal for renewable in a certain time period and if that’s the way the people of Colorado want to go, that’s great. But to cut back on natural gas production right now when Texas is cutting back on its export of natural gas is a serious mistake,” Buck said.

So, there are a lot of problems with this, the biggest of which is that Gov. Jared Polis has absolutely no power to simply snap his fingers and increase natural gas production in Colorado. In a statement responding to Buck, Polis’ office said as much:

Colorado’s natural gas market is a responsibly regulated system of wells and pipelines that is geared towards supplying natural gas according to market forces, individual company capital investment decisions, [Pols emphasis] and pipeline capacity and is not something that can be turned off and on like a spigot.

We have to think that at some level Rep. Buck is aware of this, just like he should know that the price of natural gas in Colorado peaked in 2006 and has been in decline ever since–and that is the biggest reason by far why Colorado is not “drill baby drilling” for oil and gas all over the state. If for argument’s sake Polis were able to defy market economics and compel with dictatorial power an increase in natural gas production, by the time that increase came on line the temporary ban on exports from Texas would be long over.

And you know what that means? An even bigger glut of natural gas.

It’s just another situation in which Ken Buck fired off a bunch of words that appeared relevant to the issue at hand, but under scrutiny are revealed to be almost comically ignorant of what is actually taking place. Colorado gains nothing from a knee-jerk boost in natural gas production, any more than Texas benefitted from being overdependent on natural gas electrical production which failed en masse during this historic cold snap. After the attempt to blame renewable energy sources outright for the power failures in Texas fell flat with a little fact checking this is an interesting pro-fossil fuel pivot, but it’s no less factually off base than Lauren Boebert was when she blamed the suffering in the Lone Star State on “frozen windmills.”

As Ludwig Wittgenstein famously observed, “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”  In plain Weld County English this means if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t talk.

Neither Buck nor Boebert seem to get this.


8 thoughts on “Rep. Ken Buck Doesn’t Know How Anything Works

  1. Texas power grid was ‘seconds or minutes’ from a total blackout that could have lasted months, ERCOT says

    Consider, for more than a moment, what that headline says.  That's like saying Earth just dodged by a hundred miles a huge asteroid.  Ercot managers at 1am were taking last second actions to prevent a catastrophic destruction of the entire TX electrical grid that would have blown out transformers requiring MONTHS to repair.  (I can't help picturing Homer Simpson saying, "Eenie, meenie,minie, moe")

    The fact that no politicians or the media are focusing on this near miss tells me that we are completely unprepared for something like this happening whether from a weather event, solar flare, terrorist hacking, etc.

    How would you survive a loss of electricity for months?

      1. Thanks for the article reference, MB.  Talk about prescient, this was written by them in July, 2020:

        But the threat environment today is rapidly diverging from the situation faced by 20th century grid planners. In addition to unprecedented extreme weather driven by accelerating climate change, myriad other threats pose risks for power systems and the economies that rely on them: cyber-attacks of increasing sophistication, physical attacks on infrastructure, and electromagnetic disturbances caused by natural causes (e.g., solar storms) or malicious attack (e.g., high-altitude detonation of nuclear weapons).

        Any of these threats has the potential to exploit the common-mode failure risks inherent in today’s grid infrastructure, and cause wide-area, long-duration outages unprecedented in modern US history.

        1. The EMP issue is still alarming a number of national security experts.  Jim Woolsey was talking about it seven years ago (from the 2014 article below) but today is even more concerned about such an event:

          Grid security is one of our greatest national vulnerabilities: An interview with James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

          But standing above all is the danger posed from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). An EMP is generated when a nuclear bomb is detonated in “low Earth orbit” (i.e. a few tens to a few hundreds of miles in altitude over the US). The resulting radiation (not the blast) renders all electronics over the detonation area useless. The harmful waves also travel along power lines, knocking out transformers as they go until the entire grid is shattered. The result is a nation in the dark with no way restart the system and no ability to investigate the type or source of the event.

          An EMP detonation may seem like science-fiction, but it is a real and credible threat to the grid. 

  2. Love the Wittgenstein quote, but I'll dare to speak anyway. Should the new Texas motto be "With Liberty and Just Ice For All?" (except Ted Cruz of course!)

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