The American Petroleum Institute who by their gracious effort to get a cross section of bloggers invited yours truly, to attend the Newsweek, Chevron, Woods Institute and Precourt Institute at Stanford University panel discussion. The disclosure is the API covered the travel and lodging, no big surprise, and I see they get a great deal on travel, so I went happily as in truth, the API’s representative is about as sharp of a person as you’re going to find and a formidable lady. So if you hear from Jane Van Ryan – it’s definitely a heads up moment.

The API seems to be the organizer. The panel was filled with a Stanford Law professor, David Victor, PhD., a venture capitalist from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Trae Vassallo, Paul Siegele the VP of Strategy at Chevron. The governator’s Chairman of the California Energy Commission, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, and Newsweek’s LA Bureau Chief Andrew Murr. The moderator was David Jefferson, Newsweek’s Senior Editor, Business and Technology.

Maybe even more impressive was that the API persuaded Bonnie Hulkower from Treehugger and Timothy Hurst of from the “other there” side of things and Maria Surma Manka of who might take offense but is closer to the view here. There was some press about and just a slew of highly educated and well to do folks there to participate.

My impressions were that the API is starting to trial, what might become over time, a useful means to involve many more people and their perspectives in what the future might hold (wmv file video). The API is intensely motivated, to act in support of the largest petroleum companies and are involved in ways we regular folks can only imagine. One thing is clear, the awl bidness knows that the people don’t see them as “of the people” even though we own the companies are lucky enough and enjoy them fightin’ over a penny per gallon to sell us fuel.

The discussion was way too short (transcript in a pdf), by the time the opening remarks by Jeff Koseff, PhD. and the moderator got things going a third of the allotted time had spilled over. Then the panel members offered opening remarks, some questions were answered and poof! Time was up. I think it was a learning experience for everyone.

But the gem in the raw was James Sweeney, PhD whose closing remarks made the most sense. His career is based in engineering and management science so his comments were driving straight to the comparisons of efficiency. When the API catches up, I’ll post the link because Dr. Sweeny’s thoughts are something everyone should take to heart and practice. Efficiency is the shortest, quickest and cheapest way for regular folks to get past high oil prices. It does mean a high mpg car, a high efficiency furnace and every thing you can do to cut the bills down. It adds up.

I’ve checked out the posts by the other bloggers. I’m recommending Maria first. One, she has an almost dumbfounding take. Having met her, she’s definitively a lady and to be so up to speed and interested is a surprise and the view is so, well, human. She offers I think, last I checked, eleven posts about the trip. While they’re not long, they are informative. Good choice Jane, Maria is high value. Maria did about as well as anyone could to inform readers, short of reading a transcript or hearing a podcast or seeing a video.

Tim Hurst at has, I learned in conversation, a wholly different take on things. I take it he’s a political scientist type and his posts are viewed generally from that perspective. Just as gentlemanly as you could hope to meet, Tim is observant and focused. While he hasn’t posted yet about the panel discussion through June 2nd his take is certainly becoming more valid for the raw potential in the political spectrum and will grow over time. His comments are bolded and usually appear at the end of posts. I’m curious about what he’ll say about the discussion, but for him there might not be much meat on those bones.

Lastly is Bonnie Hulkower, another cute petite energetic woman of no small accomplishments. Being a treehugger to open is enough to put one on guard a bit but to learn she is in the ARMY and looks so young and delicate is well discombobulatin’ to say the least. I admit to wishing her post would appear because as I watched her grill Paul Siegele I was thinking “she won’t wait for those notes to get checked.” She didn’t whip ‘em but she could have. I am So Looking Forward to her post. Lets hope something doesn’t blow her off writing about her take on the discussion, as she seems to post about once per week.

That makes the video, audio and transcripts the best sources. Maria offers a lot and chooses quotes as well. What sticks in my mind is the law professor’s chunk of CO2 commentary, and the Newsweek fellows news that his hybrid Prius was stolen.

But in the end I think this was a trial run of a great idea that if big oil backs up the API will generate some real benefits to all Americans and petroleum consumers worldwide. There was a lot of intellectual power up there and time too short, the set up in early growth mode and the results good, but the potential massive. I recall Fred Friendly talking to panelists and learning a lot about the Bill of Rights and other important topics.

I know this, with the experience building with the American Petroleum Institute and the directions they are going that the petroleum industry as a whole as seen in the Institute ‘s work, we’re have good folks working to keep the economy going and growing. It’s been less than 10 years ago that oil was under $10 a barrel. Things are moving fast and the consumer isn’t the only one very concerned about the future and wondering what’s coming next.


4 Comments so far

  1. Tim Hurst on June 8, 2008 4:25 PM

    Good wrap-up, Brian. I’ve been enjoying your writing. Oh, and thanks for the links. I actually posted most of my coverage of the API/Newsweek event at Red, Green, & Blue.

    The first piece I did was just an intro, but here’s a link to the second; and third, which have a little more substance.

  2. Maria Surma Manka on June 9, 2008 7:12 PM

    Great post Brian and gracias for the links and words. It’s been great to read everyone’s perspective on the event.

  3. make real money online on June 24, 2008 11:14 AM

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  4. What is Physics on September 23, 2011 10:54 PM

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