This week was the 33rd Annual CERAweek conference, described as “the energy industry’s preeminent gathering of industry leaders and government officials, offering new ideas, insight, and discussions on major strategic issues facing the global energy industry.”
So what happens when you get the industry leaders together with government officials at an event where tickets costs as much as $7,500?
Well, it’s always good to warm up the crowd with a joke, as Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy did in her remarks to the energy executives. She noted how they were preferable to the environmentalists because “They dress better, less flip-flops.”
And then she got down to business, reassuring industry attendees:
“Let me be clear about one thing: Conventional fuels like coal and natural gas are going to play a critical role in a diverse energy mix for years to come.”
McCarthy also reassured the industry that new power plant regulations would “not put the brakes on business.”
Not to be outdone, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, was giving the industry advice on how they can get the ban on exporting domestically produced oil lifted.
The matter will ultimately lie with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Moniz said. But he indicated that in order to achieve a lifting of the ban the oil industry’s lobbying arms have a ways to go yet.
“To be honest I don’t think the industry has done a very good job of clearly and concisely stating their case,” he said.
Moniz also had advice for the fracking industry. The secretary reiterated advice he has previously given to U.S. energy companies involved in U.S. shale plays — that industry needs to “get out in front” and do more to address concerns over the environmental impacts of unconventional exploration and production.
“It’s evident that environmental issues related to unconventional production have in fact slowed development of resources in certain parts of the U.S. but not others,” Moniz said
From the industry side, Chevron CEO chimed in with his concern about rising income inequality in the US and his ideas on how to fix it.
But Chevron CEO John Watson argued Tuesday that U.S. energy policy is increasing income inequality, pointing to renewable fuel standards and pollution controls as raising energy costs on those who can “least afford it.”
“The relatively wealthy can afford to pay for energy,” he said at the IHS CERAweek energy conference in Houston. “Many of the energy policies we have in place promote income inequality.
Additional deep thoughts from the industry:
Eni's (E) Paolo Scaroni noting that Europe is realizing that renewables are “more a problem than a solution”; Siemens (SI) CEO Joe Kaeser says “using solar panels in Germany is like growing pineapples in Alaska.”
I’ve yet to have an Alaskan pineapple but perhaps in a few decades, thanks to the work of the people who attend CERAweek, they will be available.
Meanwhile, on a sunny day last May, Germany produced 22 gigawatts of energy from the sun—half of the world's total and the equivalent of 20 nuclear power plants.
How do you like them pineapples?
Image credit: Offshore flaring via Shutterstock.