Exxon CEO defends the benefits of energy
While this Forbes.com article is looking at natural gas, the pride that Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobile, shows in his company’s ability to provide abundant, affordable, domestic energy to this country, is an excellent pattern for the coal industry.
Tillerson brushes aside environmental concerns as manageable and overblown. He regards the shale surge as unambiguously good news for the U.S. and the world, the latest triumph for an industry that periodically invents new ways to find and harness fossil fuels from the earth. “The most important thing for people to understand about shale gas is it’s just yet the next big resource opportunity for us,” he says. “The world’s economy has a voracious appetite for energy, so thank God we can do this.”
He stands up for the benefits of abundant domestic energy and makes it clear that his industry is managing the environmental impacts of their activities. He also unambiguously points out where the arguments against fracking miss their mark. Furthermore, his points about governing by the precautionary principal are SPOT ON!
Tillerson believes the discourse about shale has been hijacked and distorted. He says that Exxon is transparent about its practices and points out, for instance, that the company was an early proponent of disclosing the chemicals that it uses in fracking. He argues that shale drillers are being held to an unrealistic safety standard. “What’s happened is the tables have been turned around now to where we have to prove it’s not going to happen,” he says. “Well, that is a very dangerous exchange to get into because where it leads you from a regulatory and policy standpoint is to govern by the precautionary principle. And the precautionary principle will absolutely undermine the economy.” He adds, “If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave.”
The article goes on to detail how the gas industry can (and does) deal with environmental impacts associated with fracking and highlights the need for transparency in the reporting process. Of course this is no different than what the coal industry is already doing with over $90 billion invested in emissions reduction technologies since 1990.
There is also no difference in how the coal industry should proceed. We must begin to boldly stand up for our provision of abundant, affordable, and CLEAN, domestic energy. We must stand up and boldly state that we provide hundreds of thousands of direct and well-paying careers/jobs and millions of indirect careers/jobs. We must stand up and boldly state that the royalties and taxes we pay help to fund many of the services that people use every day – roads, rail, ports, and other basic infrastructure, as well as education, police, and fire services just to name a few.
This country has prospered and benefited greatly from the availability of cheap, dependable, clean energy and coal has provided that very thing now for many many decades. Working from Tillerson’s example, that’s nothing to shy away from.