Reuters blog archive
By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Stanford’s snub to coal is typical of Silicon Valley. The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 billion endowment, which is bigger than the top five U.S. coal firms combined. But shouldn’t the principle behind it, reversing global warming, also apply to oil companies, including Stanford donor Chevron? Like Valley tech tycoons, the Palo Alto school seems to shun some evils only so far.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike coal. The fossil fuel is dangerous to extract - killing about 300,000 miners through accidents and black lung disease since 1900, according to a 2011 Harvard University study. It generates 130 million tons of waste annually and is estimated to cause 11,000 premature deaths a year from lung cancer and other maladies. Yet Stanford entered morally fuzzy territory by pinning its coal boycott on “the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
In theory, such logic should mean ditching oil and natural gas too. While coal accounted for 32 percent of America’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2013, that was trumped by oil on 42 percent.
By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own
When a chief executive unexpectedly leaves to spend more time with his family, it's usually a cue to start a post-mortem into a failed tenure. Shell looks like an exception. Actually, it is shame Peter Voser is leaving. The Anglo-Dutch oil major could do worse than hope his successor mimics his ways.
from Stories I’d like to see:
The Hagel fiasco:
I can’t get Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel’s awful Jan. 31 Senate confirmation testimony out of my head. I went back last week and watched most of it again. It was stunning, by far the worst performance by a high-level appointee I’ve ever seen or heard about. I’m not referring to Hagel’s gaffes, though there were some. I’m talking about pretty much everything he said after he read his opening statement. He seemed – is there a nice way to say this? – stupid.
Yet from what I’ve read, those who know him say he is far from stupid. I spent an hour interviewing him about 10 years ago and he seemed pretty sharp ‑ though it was for a profile of a friend of his, so the questions were hardly challenging.
By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. Exxon Mobil’s reticence to come clean about fracking makes Chesapeake Energy look good. That’s a rare feat - and hardly one to brag about. The troubled gas firm is infamously opaque. But its openness on the risks of fracking puts larger rivals like Exxon Mobil and Chevron to shame. After another large minority vote from investors for more information on this controversial practice, Big Oil should follow its troubled cousin’s lead.
from Tales from the Trail:
The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create "green energy" jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.
"Obama's clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas," the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that "Big Oil" was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. "It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account," the ad's narrator says.