How will we fuel the economy and drive future growth in the age of climate disruption? Most Americans recognize the connection between fossil fuels and severe weather, but they disagree about how to fix the problem and who will pay the cost. According to Rhonda Zygocki, vice president of Policy & Planning at Chevron, the link between energy and the economy is undeniable. Looking back 50 years, she said, the greatest progress in living standards in recorded history was made possible because we had abundant, affordable energy. "Today in America we are undergoing a fundamental shift in our energy landscape that has the potential to keep energy affordable, keep economic growth going, and address our greenhouse gas emissions for years to come." Zygocki referred to it as an energy renaissance, adding that this renaissance is not driven by policy, regulation, incentives, subsidies, or mandates. "This renaissance is driven by innovation, and this rock, shale." Zygocki went on to say, "In less than 10 years, we have reversed 20 years of domestic decline in the country. We have created 1.7M jobs already with the potential to create a million more before the decade is done." She suggested that American energy independence is within sight through a combination of natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency. "We have to get this right," she cautioned. "It's not very often that a white swan comes along that can offer the combination of societal benefits at a scale that can be felt across the nation, if not the world, in energy development from shale. It's that type of opportunity. Clearly our energy conversation has changed from one of gas imports to exports, peak oil and resource scarcity to energy abundance and opportunity. How we in the nation take advantage of this opportunity to benefit America is the choice before us." She spoke of commitment toward responsible development by energy players and "strong regulation and the enforcement of that regulation by the states. "It's going to take community trust and support. But we know if we work together we can make this happen for the country." Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, agreed that shale represents a big economic opportunity for the country and has created a lot of jobs. But, he added, "there is also no question that if you visit the shale gas fields, as I have, there have been more than a few instances where people who live around these operations have been harmed." He recalled an incident of a family that had to abandon their home because of the noxious fumes. While the economic benefits are obvious, the environmental implications of not doing this right are equally obvious, he said, and while some operators are doing it right, many others are not. It's such a fragmented industry. Krupp explained that the controversy has been misdirected. "For too long, too many in industry said there aren't any chemicals escaping from the fractures. And while that is largely true, there have been thousands of cases of the chemicals going into groundwater because of surface spills, and because the well casings lacked integrity." He suggests that we're at a pivotal moment where we need to do all we can to accelerate the deployment of truly clean energy. We need to get the rules right to protect communities from impacts; guard against fugitive emissions; and prevent the lock-in of new natural gas plants by doing a lot of other things to promote renewables and energy efficiency. He sees the importance of regulations on all levels - federal, state, and local. - Lucy Sanna
Gregory Dalton is chief operating officer at the Commonwealth Club of California and Director of The Club's Climate 1 Initiative. He previously was international editor at The Industry Standard magazine, an editor for the Associated Press in New York, and a correspondent in China and Canada for the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.
Proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese, he is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Fred Krupp is the Executive Director of Environmental Defense, a national environmental organization that links science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost effective solutions to the most critical environmental problems.
Krupp and Environmental Defense have been influential in the series of international climate change negotiations that met in The Hague, Buenos Aires and the Kyoto Protocol where he led Environmental Defense’s delegation. Environmental Defense contributed to the US proposal to use emissions budgets and trading as the structure for the Kyoto Protocol. These ideas were, in large measure, adopted. Krupp was a key figure behind Congressional passage of the Clean Air Act (which employs an innovative and economically sound Environmental Defense designed acid rain reduction plan). He has led Environmental Defense in establishing a series of corporate partnerships on materials use (e.g. McDonalds) and climate change (e.g. BP). He led the successful effort to convince chemical manufacturers to accelerate screening of their high production volume chemicals for health effects. He also led the environmental community in the use of Internet technology, most notably with the zip code specific information site, www.scorecard.org.
Krupp leads Environmental Defense’s teams of scientists, attorneys, engineers, and economists in developing solution-oriented strategies to tackle a wide range of U.S. and international environmental problems including global warming; protection of endangered wildlife and ecosystems; restoration of inland, coastal and ocean habitats; elimination of environmental threats to human health; the protection of tropical rainforests.
Since Krupp joined Environmental Defense in 1984, its annual budget has increased from $3 million to more than $35 million, full-time staff has more than quadrupled from 50 to over 200, membership has expanded from 40,000 to more than 300,000, and new regional offices opened in North Carolina and Texas.
Rhonda I. Zygocki is executive vice president of policy and planning for Chevron Corporation, a position she has held since 2011. She is responsible for Strategic Planning; Policy, Government and Public Affairs; and Health, Environment and Safety. Previously Zygocki served as vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs from 2007 to 2011 and was responsible for global government relations, all aspects of communications, corporate social investment and public policy, and the company's worldwide efforts to protect and enhance its reputation. From 2003 to 2007, Zygocki was corporate vice president of Health, Environment and Safety (HES) and was responsible for HES policy and issues management, compliance and auditing, emergency response, and Chevron's Environmental Management Company. She played a key role in the design and implementation of the company's Operational Excellence Management System. Previous positions include: October 2001, managing director, Chevron Australia Pty Ltd.; 2000, adviser to the chairman of the board and subsequently responsible for oversight of the Chevron-Texaco merger integration planning office through mid-2001; 1999, manager, Strategic Planning; 1997, chief financial officer, Chevron Canada Resources; 1994, profit center manager, Chevron U.S.A. Production Company; 1993, general manager, strategic business services, Chevron Canada Resources. Zygocki serves on the boards of directors of the United States Energy Association and GBCHealth; the board of trustees of the San Francisco Ballet; and the advisory board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Canada Institute. Zygocki was born in St, John's, Newfoundland, Canada, in 1957. She began her career as a petroleum engineer with Chevron Canada Resources in Calgary after graduating in 1980 from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.