The 46 Defense

Episode 46 is uniquely dedicated to both Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense and strong safety Doug Plank, “probably the most impactful player in football history that you never heard of.”

After reflecting on the Chicago Bears 1985 season, Nick draws similarities to virtue signaling surrounding pandemic management, specifically New York City Mayor Eric Adams exempting athletes and performers from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “Shows how the elite have one set of rules, and then the rest of us have to live with a very different, less-free set of rules, that are much more stifling,” says Nick.

Next, Nick discusses President Biden’s recent comments on America’s “dependency on fossil fuels.” Followed by an analysis of gasoline prices and the Democratic response, as well as a look at how the prices of everything—from food containers to mortgages—is rising. Nick goes on to discuss the recent Bloomberg column “Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here’s How to Deal.”; comments on companies that continue to do business with Russia; and reflects on P.J. O’Rourke and John Hughes.

Russia/Ukraine Part Two

Episode 44 of The Far Middle—dedicated to Hammerin’ Hank—focuses again on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. While episode 43 examined the international response to Russia’s invasion, episode 44 focuses on the disappointing leadership from President Biden and his administration. “President Biden is doing everything he can do to determine Ukraine’s fate early, and not in a good way from the perspective of Ukraine,” says Nick.

Next, Nick comments on the foolishness of John Kerry, as well as President Biden’s recent State of the Union address. Nick explains how Russia’s invasion into Ukraine has cornered President Biden and the Left. He reiterates Putin’s invasion, as well as inflation, supply chain issues, diminished energy security, are all symptoms of the deeper underlying root cause: the West’s climate change policies. Nick also addresses Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Federal Reserve and much more. In closing, Nick wishes a happy birthday to guitarist and Pittsburgh native George Benson, “the greatest jazz guitarist of his generation.”

Russia/Ukraine Part One

Episode 43 of The Far Middle is a must-listen emergency, special edition focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nick examines the root cause of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia/Putin is a symptom of the West’s destructive energy policies. Extreme climate change policies and environmentalism gift Putin leverage and the opportunity for aggression, explains Nick. He walks through the responses of the U.S., Germany, Poland, Germany, India, and other countries. Nick cautions that things will likely worsen until we reverse course on disastrous climate change policies and we take back our energy independence from radical environmentalism.

This installment also includes a dedication to two of the NFL’s great safeties to don #43, Troy Polamalu and Cliff Harris. Both were two-time Super Bowl champions, and Nick notes the difference in the cost of Super Bowl advertisements between Super Bowl X (played in by Harris and the Cowboys against the Steelers) and last month’s Super Bowl LVI. This episode’s focus on Russia/Ukraine will continue in episode 44.

Shifting Leverage

Episode 41 of The Far Middle is dedicated to 12-time All-Star Tom Seaver. In looking back at “Tom Terrific’s” career, Nick notes his career stats, including an earned run average below 3.00. “The only thing lower than Tom Seaver’s career ERA seems these days to be office occupancy rates in big cities,” says Nick as he examines the causes and consequences of people not returning to in-person work. Next, Nick discusses the concept of “the resource curse” and how environmentalism and climate change policies have succeeded in reversing the resource curse. Nick highlights how leverage has shifted back to Iran’s favor; and, he doesn’t see a resource curse today, but rather a lack of energy independence curse for Western nations. “When you look at resources, and when look at carbon, does it matter where the carbon dioxide comes from?” asks Nick before explaining environmentalism and government’s obsession with ideology over science and facts. Nick continues with a discussion on society’s blind eye toward how products are manufactured, followed by a look at one of the latest meaningless corporate “net zero” announcements, and closes with birthday wishes to novelist John Steinbeck.

Chemical, natural gas CEOs display differences on zero-carbon future

Two chemical company CEOs and the head of a major local natural gas producer differed Thursday over whether the industry’s sustainability goals were attainable, a polite disagreement that showed a sharp division during an important national petrochemical conference.

CNX Resources Corp. CEO Nick DeIuliis, an increasingly vocal proponent of carbon industry, took aim at opponents of carbon-based industries including manufacturing and natural gas production in recorded remarks Thursday to the Petrochemical Development USA conference. He said a zero-carbon future was a myth and called “outlandish” any claims from companies about their moves toward the zero-carbon future.

“When you hear a CEO of a public company talking about a zero-carbon emission or footprint, press them on that. How are they going to do that,” DeIuliis said. “Where’s the math that shows that? Where’s the technology and what costs are you incurring to be able to do that?”

In the two recorded presentations just before DeIuliis, Lanxess Corp. President and CEO Antonis Papadourakis and Chemours President and CEO Mark Vergnano had done just that, setting up a disagreement in a brief live Q&A session between the three after the recorded remarks ended. Lanxess, a multinational company with $2.8 billion in sales and major operations in the United States, supports the Paris Climate Agreement and has committed to being climate neutral by 2040. It’s already reduced its emissions by 50% since 2004. Vergnano used his time acknowledging a new reality for chemical companies and a focus on sustainability.

“Everything is aimed at continual improvement in response to a world that demands more, not just from us, but from every industry,” Vergnano said.

The Q&A session delved further into the disagreement, with Vergnano and Papadourakis both acknowledging DeIuliis might differ but that they believe zero carbon was critical and that renewable energy and closed-loops were part of the solution. Vergnano is the chairman of the American Chemistry Council and Papadourakis, a chemical engineer, is also on the board. DeIuliis is also a chemical engineer who has held leadership positions at CNX (NYSE: CNX) and its predecessor company, Consol Energy Inc., for decades.

“I think the future for us is going to be no emissions,” said Vergnano. “So it’s not about low emissions, or regulatory emissions. It’s about how do you not put anything into the air and water, especially drinking water, that people don’t want to see. I think that’s the challenge that’s in front of us.”

DeIuliis, whose prepared remarks focused on nine points about the carbon industry, disagreed that renewable energy sources like wind and solar don’t have a carbon footprint. He said that the materials that make the equipment have to be mined, the products have to be manufactured and then transported across great distances, particularly from China.

“There is no such thing as true renewable energy. It just does not exist anywhere,” DeIuliis said. “All energy requires some activity, some impact, and some level of carbon intensity, when you run the math in an objective manner with solar and wind.” He agreed that not relying on one source is good for any portfolio but said the economics and science favored natural gas.

“Natural gas, I think, clearly comes out as a winner for a whole host of resons including, ironically enough, carbon intensity and also cost,” DeIuliis said.

Both Vergnano and Papadourakis, however, reiterated their company’s goals and their belief that reducing the chemical industry’s carbon footprint was the right thing to do.

“Clearly we feel very strongly about the climate and we believe in the science and we see what is going on with increased CO2 levels,” Papadourakis said. “We’re committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and we will pursue the solutions we can find to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and come to a climate neutral state.”

Vergnano said he couldn’t agree more.

“We’ve said we want to be carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon positive by 2050,” Vergnano said.

DeIuliis said he agreed on the concept of sustainability in terms of efficiencies and minimizing environmental impacts. But he said corporate statements and plans were too vague. He challenged Vergnano and Pakadourakis to provide more details.

“I don’t see the roadmap as to how you get there under science and math,” DeIuliis said.

Vergnano accepted the challenge.

“We’d love to be able to sit down and show you that,” he told DeIuliis. “We’ve done the math.”

Papadourakis said carbon is a key component but the question is where the carbon ends up, in a part or component or into the atmosphere.

“We don’t say or aspire to have no carbon in our products,” he said. “What we’re going to do is not have carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.”

The Petrochemical Development USA conference is the virtual conference that arose after the Northeast Petrochemical Conference, which is held annually in Pittsburgh, was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Northeast Petrochemical Conference is organized by Reuters Events. Its chairman is Charlie Schliebs, managing director of Pittsburgh-based Stone Pier Capitol Advisors.

The conference has grown with the new developments in the petrochemical industry in the Pittsburgh region, including the building of the Shell polyethylene plant in Beaver County and the potential development of others. The focus remained on the tri-state region of Appalachia in this year’s conference, including an update on the Shell plant as well as presentations by Shale Crescent USA, Pennsylvania’s governor’s office and JobsOhio.