Big Oil Peddles The Same Old Talking Points

  • Thursday, 18 September 2014 00:00

On Sept 16, Chevron Corp CEO, John Watson, told the Economic Club of Minnesota that renewable energy will play a limited role in the country's energy future. His comments, which were reported by Bloomberg and Finance & Commerce, shouldn't be surprising considering how supportive Big Oil has been when it comes to renewable energies like biofuels.

Among the reasons he gave included the following:

1. It is not good energy policy to use 40 percent of corn crop for fuel

2. Mandates are forcing renewable energy like biofuels into the market

To his first point, we'd like to point out that based on the latest USDA numbers, an estimated 3.55 billion bushels of corn or 25 percent of the total supply will be used for ethanol this year. That's 25 percent. Not 40 percent.

Furthermore, while we are on the subject of good energy policy, surely the CEO of Chevron is familiar with fracking. Reports have shown that among the side effects from fracking in North Dakota includes radioactive waste, earthquakes and most recently, burning and wasting excessive natural gas.

Moreover, some of the crude oil produced from fracking in North Dakota is ultra-light (also known as condensates). But with the increasing volume of crude from North Dakota, there isn't enough infrastructure in the country to refine all of it since most of the refinieries in Texas and Louisiana are suited for heavy crude. As a result, some quantities of ultra-light crude oil from the Bakken is being exported and not being used here at home.

Which of the points above sound like a good energy policy?

To Watson's second point, biofuels are part of our nation's policy to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and our dependency on foreign oil. In fact, thanks to ethanol, we pay a cheaper price at the pump. Based on current prices, consumers are paying 14 cents less per gallon for 87 unleaded fuel because it contains 10 percent ethanol. And last we checked, consumers prefer paying less for gas.

If anyone is forcing anything it is oil companies like Chevron who are forcing consumers to be stuck with E10 instead of fuels with higher blends of ethanol like E15, as detailed in this report by the Renewable Fuels Association.