A Good Week for ConocoPhillips
It is no secret that I work for an oil company. However, I never acknowledge which oil company, because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that they sanction any of the positions I have taken here in this blog. They would agree with some, and disagree with some. So, I have told my management – all the way to my CEO – that I would not talk about my employer. The last thing I want is for them to be attributed as taking a position that they don’t agree with.
But of all of the oil companies, if I did happen to work for ConocoPhillips, it would certainly have been a rewarding week. Actually, going back to last week, they donated $6 million to the University of Oklahoma (my home state university, and the home of my beloved Sooners football team). Then, this week they announced a $22.5 million biofuels research program for Iowa State University:
HOUSTON, Texas – ConocoPhillips will establish an eight-year, $22.5 million research program at Iowa State University dedicated to developing technologies that produce biorenewable fuels. The grant is part of ConocoPhillips’ plan to create joint research programs with major universities to produce viable solutions to diversify America’s energy sources.
But today’s news item tops them all:
NEW YORK (Fortune) — Here’s yet another sign that the debate over climate change has shifted decisively: ConocoPhillips today becomes the first U.S.-based oil company to support mandatory national regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
In so doing, ConocoPhillips breaks ranks with the two biggest U.S. oil companies – ExxonMobil (Charts) and Chevron (Charts) – as well as with the Bush administration. With revenues of $188 billion in 2006, ConocoPhillips (Charts) operates in 40 nations around the world from its headquarters in Bush country – Houston, Texas.
Mulva said no particular event caused ConocoPhillips to step forward. “We believe that the science is quite compelling,” he said. “Human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, is contributing to climate change. Now is the time we need a national mandated framework to deal with climate change.”
He didn’t endorse a specific regulatory regime. But ConocoPhillips has become the second major oil company – after BP America, a unit of British-based BP (Charts) – to join the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an alliance of big companies and environmental organizations that support federal action to achieve “significant reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.
After the press event, Mulva told me that he’d reflected personally on the issue of climate change for about a year or so; he travels about 180 days a year, and has heard government officials, environmental groups and scientists sounding alarms over the issue.
William K. Reilly, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a member of ConocoPhillips’ board, was among those urging the company to act.
Now, Mulva said, there’s no time to waste.
“Voluntary programs are not going to meet the challenge of climate change,” Mulva said. “The longer we wait – two or five years or more from now – it won’t be mitigation, it will be adaptation.”
Yes, that’s the CEO of a Texas-based oil company talking.
I believe that the scientific consensus on global warming is compelling. I believe we need to take steps to reduce our carbon emissions. I am very happy to see ConocoPhillips taking this step. If I happened to work for them, I would say that I am particularly proud of that fact today.
Of course I might also point out that ConocoPhillips was Warren Buffet’s largest acquisition in 2006, and is one of the 10 largest holdings in his portofolio. Seems that Warren and I have something in common.
I just hope the FTCR doesn’t get wind of all of this. I am sure they can spin this into bad news.