Wayne Christian, one of three Texas Railroad Commissioners, seems to have just about had it with the French. And the Russians. And the Iranians. The “sensationalist, fake news media” and “environmental extremists” are off his Christmas list, too. He also has precious little time for the whole Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, investing thing — or, as he puts it, “the new ‘woke’ way to save money.”

His latest missive — “An Assault from All Fronts on Energy Independence” — wasn’t published in all-caps; but it reads like the original draft was hammered out with the caps-lock on.

A little backstory: Texas has a problem with flaring and venting of natural gas, whereby unwanted gas (mainly from oil wells) is burned off or just released into the air. As shale oil production boomed in the Permian basin, so did flaring and venting; in recent years, more Texan gas has gone up into the heavens than been used in the state’s homes.

Since natural gas releases carbon when burned and methane is a potent greenhouse gas on its own, these both exacerbate climate change. Last February, the commission felt compelled to issue a study defending its practice of handing out flaring permits with abandon. In November, it gave some ground and voted to update the application process; from April, producers will have to file more documentation justifying their need to flare gas.

This fell short of what environmentalists, several large fund managers and even some oil majors wanted. The French are also non-plussed, apparently. Engie SA, a French utility, broke off negotiations for a U.S. liquefied natural gas contract, reportedly under pressure from a French government — which owns 24% of the company — concerned about fracking and methane emissions.

This was, it seems, the final straw:

France is going to have to get their natural gas from somewhere, and wherever it is it’s going to cause more harm to the environment and geopolitics. France may get its natural gas from Iran, which has dangerous nuclear ambitions and has threatened to blow up Israel several times. Or they could turn to Russia who has dangerous ambitions and invaded Crimea just a couple years ago. Or they could look to the Middle East, a region not exactly well known for its respect of Western legal traditions.

The phrase “a lot to unpack there” doesn’t do this paragraph quite the justice it deserves. The main point, though, is that Christian is dissing the French for not taking U.S. gas because that means getting it from a pack of deplorables instead.

While the language is a little more free-wheeling, Christian’s release is a natural successor to last February’s report. That was an exercise in whataboutism, spinning Texas’ gas flaring as not that bad if you focused on gas-per-barrel rather than absolute amounts and then compared that metric to tough benchmarks like … Iraq and Iran. Using flaring intensity elides the fact that climate change results from the absolute quantity of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.

Christian restates the intensity argument in a different way, writing “less than a half percent of the gas produced in Texas was flared or vented,” according to an announcement made last August. That announcement specified that figure applied to the month of May 2020 — which was an interesting month.

While Christian overstates his case by choosing the period when the Saudi-Russian price war and Covid-19 sent the oil business into freefall, flaring is less intense than it was. Artem Abramov, who heads shale research at Rystad Energy, says the collapse in activity accelerated an existing decline in flaring. He estimates 1.6% of Permian gas was flared in the fourth quarter of 2020 — triple Christian’s state-wide figure for May but way down from the 4-5% level seen in late 2018 and much of 2019.

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