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Exxon chief attacks Senate energy bill

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Doug Krizner: Clearly alternative fuels have become the focus of energy policy in Washington. The head of ExxonMobil says the proposals passing through Congress are playing on the emotions of the America people. For more we bring Ed Crooks, energy editor of the Financial Times. He spoke to Exxon chief Rex Tillerson. Ed why’s Tillerson so negative on alternative energy?

Ed Crooks: I think that the point really it’s about the broad thrust of the bill and about the kind of mindset that people are getting into when they’re debating all these proposals, which is thinking about alternative energy and alternative futures where what I think he’s saying is that there are pretty immediate short-term problems that the U.S. and indeed the rest of the world are facing right now and this bill does nothing to address those problems.

Krizner: So generally speaking then a lot of skepticism here. Did he get more specific?

Crooks: Yes certainly, I mean, take one example: biofuels. The bill is setting this very, very ambitious target of U.S. road fuel to come from biofuels by 2022. Now it’s absolutely clear that with current technology that can’t be done so in order to set that target you have to believe ther’es gonna be some kind of technological breakthrough and there’s all this talk at the moment about cellulosic ethanol, those kind of second-generation biofuels as they’re called. And what Rex Tillerson was saying was, well hang on a minute these are fantasy fuels, this is something which doesn’t exist at the moment. These are kind of lab projects, demonstration projects, they’re being done on a very, very small scale at the moment. That puts proper commercial development of these things somewhere off into the future.

Krizner: Ed Crooks of the Financial Times in London, thanks very much for joining us.

Crooks: Thank you.

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