2-11-08 by dugan
Chevron’s PR whizzes pulled out the stops in 2006 and early 2007 to promote the oil company’s investment in a Texas biodiesel producer. Chevron made sure that every energy reporter and much of the public knew about Chevron’s dazzling green commitment, a "22% stake" in the startup, Galveston Bay Biodiesel. Then Chevron pulled out the rug last December. It now appears that Chevron kept up the PR blitz even as it was getting ready flee.
Lawsuits were of course filed, and are finally shedding a little light on who said what about who, and when.
As reported in the Galveston Daily News ("Texas" Oldest Newspaper’), Chevron accused Galveston Bay Biodiesel of "gross mismanagement." Yet it also accused the company of denying Chevron seats on the board of directors and trying to "usurp" Chevron’s influence over the project. Did Chevron want power, or did it want out? Or did it just want an excuse to look better as it turned its back? Chevron is also trying to take the lawsuits out of the public eye, demanding they go to private arbitration.
The operators of the biodiesel plant say they’ve found new capital, they’re still running (despite a down market for biofuels) and that Chevron used its
participation in the project to convince shareholders, customers and
financial analysts that “it was farsighted enough to invest in alternative
On of the more interesting tidbits is Chevron’s assertion that the alleged mismanagement "began to come to light" in the spring of 2007. Yet on May 29, Chevron issued a press release about the plant’s opening, preening over its commitment:
"Chevron’s investment is a tangible manifestation of the company’s
strategy to invest in renewable energy technologies," said Donald Paul,
vice president and chief technology officer, Chevron. "Biofuels are
playing an increasingly important role in diversifying our nation’s
energy portfolio. With growing demand, the nation needs all the sources
of energy to contribute to supply. Our involvement with BioSelect
Galveston will allow us to apply our world-class capabilities in
transportation fuel manufacturing and distribution while expanding our
knowledge and experience in large-scale biofuels production."
The release named the politicians on hand including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, the largest recipient of oil industry money in Congress during the last Senate election cycle.
If Chevron was already looking for the exits last spring, it had no hesitation about wringing the last bucket of greenwash from the May 29 ribbon-cutting.