For awhile it looked like the oil giants were seriously diversifying into renewable energy, but that’s coming to an end.
BP dropped its long-standing solar and wind divisions, Shell focuses on how wind energy can assist fossil fuel extraction, and Exxon and Chevron have pulled back from biofuels.
with the help of ALEC, the oil industry is attempting to eliminate the US Renewable Fuel Standard and prevent California and the Northeast from implementing local standards.
Why? Because big oil has discovered that since they make much bigger money by sticking with their core business, why bother branching out? Instead, it’s much easier to crush competing forms of energy.
In 2007, when Chevron was exploring biofuels, it helped California Governor Schwarzenegger write the first-in-the-nation Low Carbon Standard, that by 2020 will cut greenhouse gases from cars and trucks by 10% below 2010 levels. It was passed in 2011 and the state is on track to meet the goal. Transportation fuels account for 36% of California’s emissions.
Now, the company is leading the charge against it because "it is not achievable." Why? Because they can only get 5% returns on biofuels when they get triple that from oil, reports Bloomberg.
In the US, transportation fuels are a $500 billion market.
"The best outcome for the oil companies is if nothing changes," Paul Bryan, former vice president of biofuels for Chevron, told Bloomberg. "You can make money today making
advanced biofuels – you just won’t make as much money as the oil companies
would like." He left Chevron in 2010 after working there for 15 years. They have since wound down those investments.
ExxonMobil Corp., which splashed television ads for years touting their foray into algae-based fuels, has largely retreated from those efforts.
While the companies accept the science of climate change and its causes, they say California’s law must be stopped because substitute technologies are too far down the road and until then, the result will be much higher gas prices and loss of jobs (since when are they concerned about this?).
Several organizations funded by the oil lobby are working against low carbon fuel standards. Fueling California spent over $327,000 in the last two years lobbying against them and the Consumer Energy Alliance runs campaigns instilling fear of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs from these mandates.
That resulted in a New Hampshire law passed last year that prohibits participation in the proposed Northeast Clean Fuel Standard without legislative approval, reports Bloomberg.
ALEC is urging other states to adopt that same law because it doesn’t want the government to "dictate" peoples’ choice of fuels.
From 2009-2010, when federal climate legislation almost passed, big oil spent half a billion dollars lobbying against it. Nine of the 10 top scientists that produce research questioning climate change are linked to ExxonMobil.
Meanwhile, here’s a map of algae production facilities and research projects – they stretch from coast to coast.
67% of algae producers plan to expand capacity this year and over 95% expect algae-based fuels to be able to compete with fossil fuels as soon as 2020, according to a survey by the Algae Biomass Organization.
Read the Bloomberg article: