Valero Issues Call to Action on Climate Change

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Valero Issues Call to Action on Climate Change

SAN ANTONIO -- Refiner, marketer and convenience store operator Valero Energy Corp. launched a consumer campaign opposing legislation that would lower carbon emissions. The campaign calls for signs posted at its gasoline stations warning customers about the projected increase in fuel prices, should the U.S. House-approved bill on carbon cap-and-trade becomes law, the San Antonio Express reported.

The campaign began yesterday at all company-owned Valero locations. Pump-topper signs were distributed to both Valero-owned Corner Stores and other retail fuel outlets buying Valero fuels, the report stated. The signs ask customers to contact their congressional representatives through a Web site established by Valero,

The U.S. Department of Energy projects gas prices could increase 77 cents per gallon over the life of the climate-change bill if enacted, the report stated. Valero, the largest U.S. independent refining company, estimates its costs for carbon emissions would total $6 billion to $7 billion annually, depending permit costs.

The bill would require businesses to pay for their carbon emissions, and would hit U.S. refining companies hard since refiners would pay for both emissions from refineries and from vehicles that burn the fuels, Jim Greenwood, Valero vice president for governmental affairs, told the paper Monday.

The minimum limit for permits is $25 per ton of emissions, according to the report. Valero refineries emit roughly 30 million tons per year, and vehicles using Valero fuels emit another 250 million tons of emissions.

Greenwood told the paper the cap-and-trade costs would threaten Valero's competitive ability with foreign refineries not restricted by cap-and-trade permit costs.

The bill—narrowly approved by the House June 26—is sponsored by California Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman, who is also chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, who is additionally chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

Under the bill, U.S. refineries are exempt from 2 percent of their carbon emissions, and would pay for permits for the rest.

Supporters of the bill argue there is ample time to adjust to the carbon emissions goals.

"The bill doesn't even go into effect until 2020," Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar told the paper. The 2020 date is when the carbon emissions reduction goal reaches 17 percent below existing emission levels nationally, from a 3-percent reduction goal in 2012, the report stated.

However, both sides said changes to the climate-change legislation were likely, and Valero's Greenwood said passage is unlikely this year.

"It would be irresponsible for us not to do anything," he said.

In other Valero news, Valero Texas Open officials awarded $2 million to 84 charities in the San Antonio area Tuesday, which was raised during the 2009 Valero Texas Open and Benefit for Children Golf Classic, held earlier this year. The total is up from the $1.3 million distributed to 63 local charities last year, the San Antonio Business Journal reported.

"Valero is especially proud to be able to increase its gifts to these organizations during these difficult economic times, when the need is increasing," Bill Klesse, Valero chairman and CEO, said in the report. "Through the generosity of our business partners and the hard work of thousands of volunteers, additional children will benefit from these gifts."

The Valero Texas Open raises money each year for children’s charities nominated and selected by employees of Valero Energy. The company is the title sponsor of the Valero Texas Open, an official PGA Tour event, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the major energy company's Valero Energy Foundation gave Lamar University $1 million to help the higher learning institute train engineering students, The Port Arthur News reported.

"Our country needs a real scientific approach to many of its issues," Bill Klesse, chairman and chief executive officer of Valero, said during the donation presentation at the John and Mary Gray Library.

The gift will create an endowment to award the Valero Scholarship in Engineering, the report stated.

"The Valero Energy Foundation proudly supports education and is honored to present this gift to Lamar University to establish the Valero Scholarship in Engineering endowment," Greg Gentry, vice president and general manager at the Valero Port Arthur Refinery said in a statement cited by the paper. "It has always been part of Valero's culture to make a difference in the communities where our employees live and work. Valero recognizes the remarkable contributions of Lamar University in the field of engineering, and since many Valero engineers are Lamar University alumni, we are pleased to help future engineering students achieve their goals."

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