Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chevron and Sierra Club: Unusual Partners for the Common Good

It's one of the most talked-about (or blogged-about) energy and environmental events in the country: A face-to-face discussion between between the heads of Chevron and the Sierra Club.

As sweeping energy legislation winds through Congress, the chiefs of Chevron and The Sierra Club will sit down – for the first time ever -- to address their visions for powering America’s future. Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope both agree that new fuels and efficiency will play an important role in meeting growing global energy demand. Yet they have different views on the role of fossil fuels and the pace – and cost -- of a transition to a low-carbon economy. The event will be held tonight Wedneday, June 10, 6:30 p.m. with a 5:30 check-in time at the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street, in San Francisco. (Limited seating is still available; order tickets.)

"As President Obama has shown us, sometimes unusual partners have to come together to find common ground,” commented Pope. “Our energy issues are more critical than ever, and we're eager to hash out our differences and debate the best way to pursue a clean energy future."

“America’s prosperity was built on a foundation of finding common ground for the common good,” O’Reilly said. “And today we must seek common ground in securing America’s energy future. I look forward to a conversation that focuses on how America will meet its long-term energy needs while addressing environmental concerns.”

Greg Dalton, the founder of The Commonwealth Club’s Climate One program and the organizer of the program, “This debate comes at a critical juncture. Washington is considering rewriting the rules on energy and environment and the stakes are high for both of these heavyweights.”

Additional information on the speakers: O’Reilly was elected chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation on January 1, 2000. The Dublin, Ireland, native was previously vice president of Chevron Corporation and chief operating officer at Chevron Chemical Company. Upon his graduation from Ireland’s University College, he began his career at Chevron as a process engineer.

Pope became executive director of the Sierra Club in 1992. He co-authored the book Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. He has worked with the Sierra Club for more than 30 years and has served as a board member for the National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause, and Public Interest Economics Inc. In January 2009, Pope announced his plans to step down once a successor is hired.

The discussion will be moderated by Alan Murray, a regular contributor to CNBC and online executive editor of The Wall Street Journal.

--Commonwealth Club Media and Public Relations Department


The Mad Hedge Fund Trader said...

And now for Chevron's side of the story from Dave O’Reilly, CEO of Chevron (CVX). The original Standard Oil of California and one of the Seven Sisters, Chevron has a storied history. It discovered the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia in the thirties, the world’s largest, and later took over Gulf Oil (from Paul Getty), and Texaco. It is now the largest company in California. David says the world needs 245 million barrels/day to function. The problem for the US is that over the last 20 years demand has increased by 4 million b/d, while depletion has cut domestic production by 4 million b/d. The 8 million b/d gap can only be met with imports, which is why Chevron now earns 75% of its earnings from overseas, doing battle with Nigerian rebels and uncooperative foreign governments. The net net is that oil prices are going up. All alternative sources will need to be developed to deal with this widening gap, be it wind, solar, biofuel, or nuclear. Chevron is in fact the world’s largest producer of geothermal energy, accounting for 2% of its total supplies, is also the state’s largest installer of solar panels, and has invested $300 million in biofuel research. This is more than just “feel good” money. The real impediment is that capital turnover in the energy industry is extremely slow. Coal fired power plants can last a century, and our 245 million cars last 15-18 years. Some of today’s low mileage clunkers will still be on the road in 2030. Even with the best efforts, Chevron will get three quarters of its revenues from oil in 2050. There is 100 years worth of investment in our current energy infrastructure and it won’t be replaced overnight. We will be lucky if we can cut CO2 emissions by 25% by 2050, a far cry from the Sierra Club’s 90% goal. The quickest way to cut emissions is to convert our coal fired power plants to natural gas. When Chevron took over Texaco in 2001, it inherited its legal headache in a $27 billion lawsuit over clean up of the Lago Agrio field in Ecuador, a hot button with environmentalists. Now David, a modest Irish engineer who came up through the research side of the company, has to be escorted by bodyguards at public events.

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