The 2016 annual meeting of the Montana Petroleum Association went off without a hitch last week in Billings.
With more than 200 attendees, the downturn in oil prices was hardly noticeable. Though MPA saw fewer industry participants than previous years, the Petroleum Industry Appreciation Day Luncheon drew a sizeable audience from the general public.
Keynote speaker Mark Mathis, author, consultant, and filmmaker of spOILed, addressed a full ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel (formerly Crowne Plaza). He’s recently completed a new film, Fractured, which addresses how language is fracturing the energy debate. Showing clips throughout his speech, Mathis urged industry to take control of the message on oil, gas, and coal, offering new ways to educate the public on each.
TECHMAP, he said, could replace the words fossil fuels, which imply an “antiquated” resource. TECHMAP stands for those things which oil, gas, and coal provide; Transportation, Electricity, Cooking, Heating, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Products; all things essential to everyday living. By reaching audiences at a young age, instilling them with knowledge of how these resources fuel our modern lives, Mathis argued they’d find it harder to join movements which call for their end.
He showed a photo which went viral recently of protesters in kayaks wearing synthetic materials, and using other petroleum made products. The photo was intended to point out the ignorance and hypocrisy of the very people supporting the “Keep it in the ground” movement. Clearly, you can’t even have a protest against oil without it.
From a practicality standpoint, ending our use of oil, gas, and coal, said Mathis, would mean some 6 billion people on the planet would have to disappear because of the sheer inability of renewable energy sources to do what non-renewable sources can.
Renewables are terribly incompatible with goals of minimizing surface impacts because of their lack of energy density compared to oil, gas, and coal.
That is, it takes significantly more land area (for solar or wind) to produce the same amount of energy as an oil well, gas or coal powered plant.
Mathis addressed topics similar to those addressed by a previous MPA keynote speaker, Alex Epstein (with the Center for Industrial Progress), all supporting continued use of oil, gas, and coal from a practicality and humanitarian standpoint. He provided alternative ways to steal the energy dialogue back from the well funded “green” industry and celebrity activists, noting that misinformation and ignorance are driving people away from the truth.
Rather than talking about finite resources, Mathis called on the industry and others to highlight the “infinite resourcesfullness” of oil, gas, and coal producers. Instead of climate change, “climate control” is a phrase that more adequately describes how these resources allow us real time control over our surroundings, with the touch of a button (on a fan or thermostat). We are not addicted to oil, as the phrase negatively connotes; we are spoiled because of these resources and all they provide.
Prior to the luncheon, MPA appointed new board members, with President Greg Brown, Environmental Manager-Pipelines, CHS, Inc. presiding over the general session.
The board appointment was followed by an inspirational speech by Paul Babb, Community Relations, Northwestern Energy. The focus of his speech was on “telling the story of our employees”, the real industry heroes, said Babb, who showed a tear-jerking video which asked, “What if we could see inside other people’s hearts?” at the close of his presentation
Three panels then covered topics including landowner relations, community outreach, state and federal regulations, and state permitting.
Panels included a mix of industry personnel from within the membership of MPA and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) based in Denver.