Florida Phoenix Dismisses the Threat to the U.S. Power Grid

Writing for the Florida Phoenix (The Phoenix), a “progressive” paper from Tallahassee Florida, environmental “journalist,” Craig Pittman mocks warnings from power grid operators who say shutting down coal and other fossil fuel power plants represents a danger to the U.S. power grid, and cites a litany of alleged climate change impacts as justification for his position. Data shows that the rapid-fire climate crisis assertions Pittman makes are false. By contrast, the looming threat of power grid destabilization, which Pittman dismisses, is real and must be taken seriously.

The article, “Amid record heat, Florida agencies give EPA climate change rules a cold shoulder,” is riddled with errors. So many, in fact, that to attempt to correct each one individually would make this Climate Realism post far longer than we typically write. Suffice it to say, Climate Realism has directly refuted many of the claims Pittman made in this article already in other posts. He hits on almost every single topic we’ve ever covered in his long, misinformed diatribe.

First, Pittman is very alarmed by the hot Florida summer, giving glib examples of what effects the summer has had, including hot beach sand and prison inmates being allowed to wear shorts. He also speaks about ocean temperatures being hotter than usual.

Yet, contrary to repeated claims that near shore ocean temperatures are boiling, they are not, While warmer than average this year, regardless of what a single buoy reading in an isolated, shallow bay recorded, the oceans aren’t turning to steam. Nor is warm water “boiling our coral reefs to death” as Pittman claims. Coral bleaching is not coral death, and while marine “heat waves” can lead to the colonizing algae temporarily abandoning corals, it is cold water conditions that kills them. This is why most coral reefs are found in hotter equatorial waters.

Besides his revealed lack of knowledge about existing weather data, the most egregious claims in the article stem from Pittman’s complete dismissal of concerns about the power grid failing, due to the premature closure of coal and potentially natural gas fueled power plants. Regarding the EPA’s proposed power plant rule Pittman writes, “[u]nfortunately, last year the robe-wearing panhandlers on the U.S. Supreme Court, no doubt obeying what their donors told them to do, ruled that the Clean Air Act that empowered the agency to regulate smog, soot, and acid rain didn’t cover carbon emissions.” He goes on to say that the Supreme Court’s ruling is why the EPA had to allow utilities to “choose how to stop cooking the planet.”

Pittman continues:

In May, the EPA proposed clamping down on emissions from power plants that burn coal and natural gas. The agency targeted those carbon emissions because that’s what creates the greenhouse effect in our atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun.

In a letter sent last week, [Florida] DEP Secretary Shawn “I Keep My Thermostat Set Just Above Freezing” Hamilton told the EPA that its rule is bad. Why? Because it “places the reliability, affordability, and capacity of the nation’s energy supply at risk.”

Yes, we must have reliable electricity to run our A/C units 24/7 when the weather outside is this hot. That’s the Florida way, no matter how high our skyrocketing utility bills may climb.

Pittman is dangerously incorrect. His argument does not make much sense. Even many climate alarmists acknowledge that air conditioning does indeed help people survive “dangerous heat.” In addition, it is puzzling why Pittman scoffs at the idea that the electric grid may become unstable due to baseload power being shut off because of EPA edicts.

This is especially true considering the warnings that have been put out not only by utility companies, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) itself.

In the Climate Realism post “Top U.S. Grid Official Says Fossil Fuel Power Plant Closures Could Have ‘Catastrophic Consequences,’” Nick Pope describes recent warnings from the government’s top energy regulator. FERC Commissioner Mark Christie told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “I think we’re heading for potentially very dire consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences in the United States in terms of the reliability of our grid, and I think that the basic reason is that we’re facing a shortfall of power supply[.]”

Christie went on to explain that it’s not that we’re not adding enough wind and solar, but “[t]he problem is the subtraction of coal and gas and other dispatchable resources which are the ones we need during this transition to keep the lights on.”

Even if an energy “transition” is needed or desirable, it would still be unwise to shut down power plants that provide consistent energy to the grid before suitable replacements are up and running. Pittman even mockingly disparages the idea that a growing Florida population will require more energy.

The reality is that no amount of wind or solar will prevent power outages; no matter how many wind turbines you have, if the wind stops blowing (or blows too much), their electricity output is zero. No matter how many solar panels you have, if the sun is not shining, their output is zero.

Grid-scale nuclear and geothermal can provide more reliable energy, but they are not the ultimate saviors of the grid on their own either. Nuclear typically is either all-on or all-off, and thus usually doesn’t have the ability to adapt quickly to sudden changes in electricity demand the way coal or natural gas can, although recent research  is attempting to overcome that barrier. Geothermal, as discussed in Energy at a Glance: Geothermal Power Economics and Geothermal Power and the Environment, is highly dependent on location if it is used for grid-scale electricity generation.

Pittman ends his execrable screed in a tirade against PragerU videos being shown in Florida schools, and by listing yet more climate alarmist talking points which have been thoroughly debunked by available data, like the idea that hurricanes are intensifying. They aren’t, but Pittman is ignoring or is ignorant of this truth.

The entire Florida Phoenix article is nothing more than opinionated, biased, misinformed, shameful rant, with little or no reference to actual data, to lend it the legitimacy of being thought of as a news story. The Phoenix should be embarrassed by the lack of journalistic integrity or critical thinking on the part of Pittman. Readers should be armed with the knowledge of the looming threats to the power grid, not sold, as Pittman put it, “a line of fertilizer.”

Linnea Lueken
Linnea Luekenhttps://www.heartland.org/about-us/who-we-are/linnea-lueken
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief "Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing."

Related Articles


  1. Wonderful. I just read an article where New Jersey will teach climate change in all its subjects including PE. I’m sure it’s not biased…

  2. You’re right as usual Linnea. So, now what? How can we get climate alarmists and so called scientists to admit that there isn’t a runaway CO2 feedback or forcing function? Do they ever consider if something like that existed, we wouldn’t be here because the earth become too hot? They are hanging on to the hockey stick graph that has no relationship to our atmosphere.

    I remember hearing years ago that the climate change train has left the station and there is no arguing facts. How can a scientific community let that stand? It would seem when every model prediction comes up wrong (because of assumed feedbacks), typically researchers, etc would start asking questions. So far just an old weatherman asked “what’s up with that?”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Reads

Latest Publication