ConocoPhillips PR game

July 19th, 2007

From last night’s meeting, here’s Jim Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips, and on the right, that’s moderator John Taylor looking and acting more than a little schnockered.

Yesterday was a long ConocoPhillips day. First was an afternoon small group meeting, with ConocoPhillips CEO John Mulva, at the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research (click here for their ANNUAL REPORT and look at the amounts for oil spills and the oil company donations!). Present were representatives of Green Delaware (of course), Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Nature Conservancy, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Tri-State Bird Rescue, a couple unknowns, and of course, Delaware’s oil lobbyist/orchestrater Gary Patterson of the Petroleum Council (who cut the meeting off to rush the ConocoPhillips folks off to see the Governor!). For the most part, it seemed to be a jockeying for position in the race for a buck. My “contribution?” I let him know that given IGCC’s miserable failure in Minnesota and Delaware, that it was time to just get a life, to invest those IGCC R&D dollars in renewable and sustainable energy. Oh, yeah, that suggestion went over well, another “fart in the elevator” direct hit, met with his beady little eyes sharpening in targeted silence! I think the whole point of this “Conversation on Energy” is an IGCC PR scoping and hustling scheme.


Then the evening ConocoPhillips Conversation on Energy — it was a “Boys Club” meeting for sure — all of them up there in suits and ties, and that was depressing. Also depressing is the lack of knowledge of energy issues and all the options we have for generating electricity and reducing energy consumption. Moderator John Taylor stumbled along cluelessly, but Lou Burke, of ConocoPhillips did a great job, a human jukebox of energy information from the ConocoPhillips perspective, and W.R.Gore’s Bill Mortimer seemed creative and expansive in his approach (though he’s also got a vested company interest in selling pollution control equipment, an area they’re trying to expand in, including filters made of their material!). One highlight was the emphasis by two of the panelists on conservation, “saving energy by not using it in the first place,” and “The cheapest energy is that which we don’t have to generate.” So where was coal gasification’s Mike Gregerson to keep tabs on everything and report to his masters?

In his opening remarks, CEO Mulva lamented the lack of a national energy policy (true enough) and focused briefly on four points:

1) Promote energy diversity and energy security

2) Energy conservation and efficiency (in Rochester, these were 4 of 4, we’re moving up!)

3) (Continuing his afternoon theme of government initiative) National effort, by companies, BUT CERTAINLY BY THE GOVERNMENT

4) Meet climate change and environmental expectations of the public

The shining star of the program was none other than DNREC’s John Hughes, who stood up for two Delaware laws he deemed “sacred,” the Coastal Zone Act and the incinerator law. That was heartening, to say the least. Both of these laws were raised by questioners, one of whom wanted support for new/renewed industrial activity on the coast, and Hughes was quick to note that the company had abandoned its “grandfathered” right to operate on the General Chemical site in the Coastal Zone, that new industrial activity, specifically an ethanol plant, would not be considered because the Coastal Zone act was sacred and he wasn’t about to change it. He said that the ethanol plant plans had been brought to him, and he said that ethanol will never be the answer. Meanwhile, there to get the public perspective, er… right… ConocoPhillips was whining that it takes time to go through the permitting process, that it takes UNDUE time. UNDUE TIME! arrrrrgh…

A bit later, he had a second opportunity to shine — there was another question by a self-disclosedConoco Phillips employee who wanted to know what Delaware is doing to promote garbage burning! Now did he know he was sitting right behind Muller, nemesis of incineration? And Hughes response was that Delaware forbids incineration — that they are not looking at garbage burning because that’s prohibited by the restrictive siting laws of Delaware, that the law is another of those sacred laws, and he wasn’t about to work to change that either. And Jim Wolfe of the Delaware Chamber of Commerce’s comment? They want to embark on an effort to gut the Delaware incineration law. Oh, great… and very strange, because when the incineration law was passed, the Chamber supported it! So let him know what you think of that brilliant idea – (and I asked and he said they supported Gov. Minner in her support of NRG’s IGCC proposal, another horrific policy idea, so I’m going to send him the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce testimony against the Mesaba Project).

There were two declared ConocoPhillips employees there “asking questions” setting them up — no hardball questions here!

As in Rochester, there were two rows reserved in front for the “Partner” organizations, which included, from those seated there, the Partnership for Delaware Estuary(Danielle Kreeger and ??) and the Committee of 100 (Beverly Baxter and ??). I’m not from here so were there others? I don’t know… I do know that at least three other organizations were asked to be “partners” and they declined. And most of those “reserved” seats were empty. And unlike Rochester, there were a lot of empty seats in the house. And unlike Rochester, they didn’t have a big spread, just cookies and coffee — I was looking forward to a little fruit for dessert after Szechuan…

How were people informed of this meeting? Don’t know! Please comment below if you were invited or know how they got word out.

Here’s the WDEL report:

Conservation focus of town hall meeting

And the News Journal article:

Future is fossil fuels, industry official says


Much agreement on need for alternative energy sources

So were we all at the same meeting?

One Response to “ConocoPhillips PR game”

  1. Alan Muller Says:


    Thanks for this thoughtful report.

    At the ConocoPhillips dog show in Rochester, there were some token enviros. In Delaware we didn’t even see any tokens on the panel, which may have been better. Who knows.

    I guess when your company has 190 billion $/year in annual revenues you can do a lot of media manipulation…..

    But in truth CP had no message other than “leave us alone with our obscene profits and self-serving control of US energy policy….”


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