As Congress considers scaling back or abolishing U.S. rules that mandate the use of renewable fuels, it has the full-throated support of the petroleum industry — with one major exception.
BP, one of the world’s biggest oil companies by revenue, is part of a joint venture with DuPont that is set to start producing a new alternative fuel by the end of the year. In order to preserve a market for that fuel, its officials are busy in Washington trying to persuade lawmakers that the current system doesn’t need an overhaul.
Chevron CEO John Watson had his hands full Wednesday at the oil company’s annual shareholders meeting in San Ramon.
As usual, he faced tough questioning over the company’s$19 billion pollution lawsuit in Ecuador. Some of the exchanges grew tense, and one of the speakers was ejected from the room. For a full account, check out my story here.
Chevron Corp. (CVX) helped write the first-in-the-nation rule ordering reduced carbon emissions from cars and trucks. Its biofuels chief spoke at the ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in 2007, the same year the oil company pledged to develop a gasoline replacement from wood.
Now Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to undercut the California mandate aimed at curbing global warming, two years after the state started phasing it in. Research on commercially viable climate-friendly products has come to naught, stymied by the poor economics of coaxing hydrocarbons from plants’ stubborn cell walls, according to Chevron officials.
The oil industry is mounting a concerted push to roll back biofuel mandates, both in Washington and Sacramento.
At the federal level, oil lobbyists have joined with environmentalists and ranchers — a Coalition of the Unlikely — to block new rules increasing the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline. They’ve attacked federal mandates for the production of cellulosic ethanol (derived from grasses and woody plants) as nothing more than wishful thinking, since very little of the stuff has been made to date.
San Ramon-based Chevron is leading an aggressive campaign to delay implementation of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The fuel standard requires the oil industry to gradually reduce the “carbon intensity” of transportation fuels like diesel and gasoline by at least 10 percent by 2020. Chevron and its allies, including the Western States Petroleum Association, are trying to undermine the standard by rallying opposition, financing critical studies and lobbying the Democratic-controlled Legislature, state agencies and Gov. Jerry Brown.