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Chevron's Big BioDiesel Greenwash | Oil Watchdog

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Chevron's Big BioDiesel Greenwash

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Tue, May 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Chevron's Big BioDiesel Greenwash

    5-29-07 by dugan

    Folks, here’s the announcement you definitely won’t hear today:

    Chevron Corp., with the unveiling of a large Galveston Bay biodiesel plant today, also announced the launch of “Chevron Clean D,” a branded biodiesel fuel to be sold initially at about 600 of its Chevron gasoline stations .

    Chevron is a partner in the plant, Galveston Bay Biodiesel LP, which is operated by BioSelect Fuels, a Houston-based developer and operator of biodiesel facilities.

    “Proud as we are of our investment with BioSelect Fuels, we are even more proud of our commitment to commercial development of renewable fuels at our branded stations,” said Chevron CEO David O’Reilly. “We will be offering construction grants and other assistance to our independent station owners who serve areas with demand for diesel, encouraging them to install Chevron Clean D pumps alongside our other products.”

    O’Reilly said that as the commercial market for biofuels expands, Chevron will help finance biodiesel dispensers at more of its nearly 10,000 independently owned stations across the country.

    We can only wish.

    The only true things in that statement are the opening of the plant, and Chevron’s minority 22% investment in it (Though one analyst says that’s as little as $2 million, or even $0.) Chevron has refused to say how much actual money it forked over.

    The biodiesel made at the plant will not be sold for any automotive retail, much less under the Chevron brand. The plant’s small initial output of 20 million gallons a year will go mostly to marine and truck-fleet sales.
    In the real world, Chevron’s dealer contract restrictions on the sale of any renewable fuels make it prohibitively  expensive for a station owner to even test the market for renewables. The lack of a national market for renewables is self-perpetuating until major  players like Chevron get into it.

    One other true thing about this biodiesel plant is the positive PR that Chevron milked from its investment, even as the scheduled late-2006 opening of the plant was repeatedly pushed back. (Sample of the stories here   and here .

    It’s hard to imagine a cheaper way to cloak a corporate identity in green, while continuing to ensure that renewable fuels will remain a fringe market, available only to dedicated motorists who search for back-alley sources. At the same time, Shell Oil and its Big Oil partners now say say the "threat" of renewable fuels will keep them from investing in any new refining capacity to alleviate the gasoline supply crisis. It’s beyond hypocrisy.

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