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.
In his 28 years as head of Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp has overseen the growth of EDF from a small nonprofit with a budget of $3 million to a recognized worldwide leader in the environmental movement. Under his direction, EDF’s full-time staff has increased from 50 to 350, membership has expanded from 40,000 to more than 750,000 and new offices have opened across America and in China and Mexico. Krupp is widely recognized as a pioneer in harnessing market forces for environmental ends, such as the market-based acid rain reduction plan in the 1990 Clean Air Act that The Economist praised in 2002 as “the greatest green success story of the past decade.” Krupp also broke new ground by engaging companies to lessen their impact on the environment. Strategic partnerships with FedEx, McDonald’s and Walmart, among others, have resulted in the development of hybrid electric midsize trucks, the elimination of millions of pounds of packaging waste and the improvement of energy efficiency across the global retail supply chain. In recent years Krupp has become perhaps best known as an influential leader on climate and energy. In 2007, he played a key role in the $45 billion buyout of the Texas energy giant TXU, then the largest buyout in corporate history. The same year, he helped launch a corporate-nonprofit climate coalition, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He is coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of the New York Times bestseller, Earth: The Sequel – The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming, published by W.W. Norton. In 2011, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu appointed Krupp to the seven-member panel charged with recommending measures to reduce the environmental impact and improve the safety of shale gas production. On the panel, Krupp was a powerful voice for greater oversight and enforcement, strong regulation of air and water pollution, public disclosure of chemicals in fracking fluids and waste water, minimization of land use impacts and reduction of methane leakage.
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.