Robert Bryce (writer)

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Robert Bryce
06-23-11 Bryce, Robert.jpg
Robert Bryce, pictured in 2011
ResidenceAustin, Texas
Alma materUniversity of Texas
OccupationWriter and Journalist
EmployerManhattan Institute
OrganizationManhattan Institute
Known forWriting
Notable work
Power Hungry (2010) Gusher of Lies

Robert Bryce is an American author and journalist in Austin, Texas.[1] His articles on energy, politics, and other topics have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Counterpunch, and Atlantic Monthly.


Bryce has been writing about the energy business for more than two decades. He spent twelve years writing for The Austin Chronicle.[1] In 2006, he began working as the managing editor of the online magazine, Energy Tribune.[2] From October 2007 to February 2008 he was a fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, and is now a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute,[3] a conservative think tank. He regularly appears on TV and radio shows ranging from the BBC to PBS and CNBC to Fox Business.

Writing on the energy industry and species protection[edit]

Bryce has written frequently about the infeasibility of the United States becoming energy independent.[4][5]

In March 2009, he testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to discuss the limits inherent in renewable energy, saying "no matter how you do the calculations, renewable energy by itself, can not, will not, be able to replace hydrocarbons over the next two to three decades, and that's a conservative estimate".[6]

Bryce writes regularly about energy and power systems. In 2007, he criticized the dangers of cheap oil.[7]

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal in March 2009 he denounced the energy policies of former United States President George W. Bush and the current president Barack Obama, claiming their rush for renewable energy will not be sufficient to cover the country's future energy needs.[8]

Bryce has criticized special exceptions to wildlife protection laws given to renewable energy facilities in the United States. Oil producers and electric utilities have repeatedly been charged and fined under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for killing birds; meanwhile, wind-power companies are not prosecuted despite routine violations of the MBTA. In the Wall Street Journal, he wrote,

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year. A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass California, estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

He also wrote about the health problems caused by low-frequency noise emitted from wind turbines.[8]

In June 2010, in an article for Slate he expressed dismay at the corn ethanol industry's attempts to use the blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico as an basis to pursue more subsidies.[9]

Bryce is an advocate for increased shale gas consumption in the US. In a June 13, 2011 piece published in the Wall Street Journal he posited that the "shale revolution now underway is the best news for North American energy since the discovery of the East Texas Field in 1930."[10]

Bryce opposes federal corn subsidies for ethanol, citing high costs.[11][12] He has argued that American farmland should be used to grow food rather than fuel.[13] In addition he has opposed the EPA's considerations to raise the volume of ethanol mixed in gasoline, arguing that vehicles could be damaged by higher ethanol blends, and warranties would be voided.[14]

He has criticized the Obama administration for "attempting to pick winners in the car business" with electric vehicles subsidies.[15] He has also argued that electric vehicles have failed to date due to the lack of energy density in batteries, safety concerns, and relatively few sales.[16]

Writing on climate change[edit]

Bryce describes himself as an agnostic about global warming and climate change. He frequently points out that the climate "alarmists" have no credible plans to replace the hydrocarbons that now provide the overwhelming majority of the world's energy. In chapter 15 of 'Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, Bryce writes: '"There's no question that carbon dioxide plays a significant role in the atmosphere. Just how significant, we don't know ... For me, in many ways, the science no longer matters because discussions about the science have become so vituperative and politicized. Thus, my position about the science of global climate change is one of resolute agnosticism. When it comes to climate change, the key issues are no longer about forcings, albedo, or the ideal concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead, the key question is about policy, namely: if we are going to agree that carbon dioxide is bad, what are we supposed to do? And that question—as the Duke of Bilgewater memorably put it in Huckleberry Finn—'is the bare bodkin."


Bryce recently argued that renewable energy remains unready to meet real-world energy needs at a scale that can save the climate.[17]

Accordingly, he has long favored "N2N" (natural gas to nuclear), as the logical way forward for energy policy and insurance against the potential risk of climate change.[18]

Carbon capture and sequestration[edit]

In May 2010, he published an op-ed in The New York Times that underscored the difficulties associated with large-scale carbon capture and sequestration.[19] He has recently extended this line of argument in National Review Online[20]

Writings on politics and current events[edit]

George W. Bush[edit]

In 1993, Bryce wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor about George W. Bush's jump into the Texas gubernatorial race arguing that Bush would "pose a formidable challenge" to then Democratic Governor Ann Richards. Bryce also referred to Karl Rove a "savvy political consultant."[21]

Bryce predicted that Bush would win the White House in a 1999 piece for The Austin Chronicle,[22] and was the first journalist to report on how Bush's ownership of the Texas Rangers would become a financial asset.

Bryce also analyzed how Bush and his partners used the power of eminent domain to profit off of land they did not own.[23]

"I am Sullied-No More"[edit]

In 2007, Bryce featured 44-year-old Colonel Theodore S. Westhusing's suicide note in an article for the Texas Observer titled, "I am Sullied-No More." In it he argues that Westhusing chose death over dishonor while faced with the Iraq war's corruption.[24]

Funeral industry[edit]

In 1999, Bryce wrote about corruption in the funeral industry, reporting on how Robert Waltrip, C.E.O of the world's largest death-care company, Service Corporation International "used the [Texas] governor's office and a state senator in an effort to crush an investigation into S.C.I.'s operations."[25]

V-22 Tiltrotor[edit]

Bryce has been an outspoken critic of the troubled V-22 tiltrotor, or Osprey, for its safety and cost record.[26]


In October 2011 a petition was addressed to The New York Times complaining about Bryce. It asked the paper's public editor, Arthur Brisbane,[27] to address the issue of how op-ed writers are identified and asked that the paper be more transparent with regard to any financial support the op-ed writers may get from various industries.[28] On October 29, 2011, Brisbane responding to the petition, writing "I don't think Mr. Bryce is masquerading as anything: experts generally have a point of view". Regarding the issue of funding from energy-related interests, Brisbane wrote that "the Manhattan Institute's dependence on this category of funding is slight – about 2.5 percent of its budget over the past 10 years."[29]

In June 2013, published a 60-page rebuttal of Robert Bryce's "Gusher of Lies" written by Marc J. Rauch, co-founder of The Auto Channel. The rebuttal challenges Mr. Bryce's negative claims about ethanol. Mr. Bryce has not responded to Rauch's criticisms.[30]

Published books[edit]

  • Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong. ISBN 978-1610392051 (2014).
  • Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, published 2010 by PublicAffairs, ISBN 978-1-58648-789-8. Bryce argues that the practical potential of green energy using the currently employed technology is greatly exaggerated and that natural gas and nuclear power are the only realistic alternatives to coal and oil.[31] A review published by the Wall Street Journal called the book "unsentimental, unsparing, and impassioned; and if you'll excuse the pun, it is precisely the kind of journalism we need to hold truth to power".[32]
  • Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence, published by PublicAffairs 2008, ISBN 978-1-58648-321-0. In this book, Bryce focuses on the desire for energy independence. The New York Times describes it as "a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it".[4][19] Kirkus Reviews' review states, "In a voice ardent and beseeching, Bryce urges Americans to educate themselves about the world's biggest enterprise, to have at least a modest grasp of thermodynamics, to rationally assess the costs and potential benefits of available resources.[33]
  • Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the rise of Texas, America's Superstate, published by PublicAffairs in 2004, ISBN 978-1-58648-188-9.[5]
  • Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, published by PublicAffairs in 2002, ISBN 978-1-58648-201-5.[34]


  1. ^ a b "About Bryce". Robert Bryce. p. 1. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  2. ^ Bryce, Robert (January 30, 2006). "Robert Bryce". Energy Tribune. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Robert Bryce". Manhattan Institute. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  4. ^ a b Bryce, Robert (March 5, 2008). Gusher of lies: The dangerous delusions of energy Independence. PublicAffairs. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-58648-321-0.
  5. ^ a b Bryce, Robert (5 May 2004). Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the rise of Texas, America's Superstate. PublicAffairs. p. 352. ISBN 978-1-58648-188-9.
  6. ^ Bryce, Robert (March 17, 2009). "Full committee oversight hearing: on energy development on public lands and the outer Continental Shelf". Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  7. ^ Bryce, Robert (2007-01-19). "Energy Tribune – The dangers of cheap oil". Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  8. ^ a b Bryce, Robert (March 5, 2009). "Let's get real about renewable energy". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 May 2010. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Wall Street Journal" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  9. ^ Bryce, Robert (June 10, 2010). "The ethanol trap". Slate. Slate. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  10. ^ Bryce, Robert. "America needs the shale revolution". Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  11. ^ "Corn Dog". Slate. 2005-07-19. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  12. ^ "The Unraveling of the Ethanol Scam". CounterPunch. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  13. ^ "The Ethanol Scam". CounterPunch. 2007-03-02. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  14. ^ "The Ethanol Scammers Rent a General". CounterPunch. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  15. ^ "Obama's Electric Vehicle Fetish". CounterPunch. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  16. ^ "Fire Sale on Electric Cars!". National Review Online. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  17. ^ "Four Numbers Say Wind and Solar Can't Save Climate". Bloomberg.
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b Bryce, Robert (May 12, 2010). "A bad bet on carbon". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2010. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "New York Times" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  20. ^
  21. ^ Bryce, Robert. "Texas Sprouts New Bush As Son Enters State Race". Christian Science Monitor.
  22. ^ Bryce, Robert. "The Can't-Miss Kid". Austin Chronicle.
  23. ^ Bryce, Robert. "Bush's Big Score: Bank on it: The Rangers sale will haunt the governor's run for president in 2000". Houston Press.
  24. ^ Bryce, Robert. "I am Sullied-No More". Texas Observer.
  25. ^ Bryce, Robert. "Burying the Opposition". Texas Observer.
  26. ^ Bryce, Robert. "Texas' Deadly $16 Billion Boondoggle". Texas Observer.
  27. ^ "Times chooses Arthur S. Brisbane, grandson of Arthur Brisbane as public editor, giving him a 3-year term." The New York Times, June 22, 2010 p. B6.
  28. ^ "Letter To The New York Times – True Ties". Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  29. ^ Brisbane, Arthur S. (2011-10-29). "The Times Gives Them Space, but Who Pays Them?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  30. ^
  31. ^ Bryce, Robert (April 27, 2010). Power hungry. PublicAffairs. p. 416. ISBN 978-1-58648-789-8.
  32. ^ Butterworth, Trevor (April 30, 2010). "The Wrong Way To Get to Green". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  33. ^ Kirkus Reviews: Gusher of lies.
  34. ^ Bryce, Robert (October 8, 2002). Pipe Dreams: Greed, ego, and the death of Enron. PublicAffairs. p. 416. ISBN 978-1-58648-138-4.

External links[edit]