WisBusiness: Shell Oil President raps proposed Doyle surcharge

By WisBusiness Staff

MILWAUKEE — Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister says Gov. Jim Doyle’s proposed oil surcharge amounts to corporate discrimination.

Hofmeister, speaking at a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce meeting on Tuesday, said the inability to pass on costs that are incurred in the normal course of business is “changing the economic model.”

But Doyle’s administration secretary, Mike Morgan, rejected that.

Morgan pointed out in a statement that Shell Oil reported a $25.4 billion profit last year.

“The fact that the oil companies are attacking the Governor’s proposal tells me we’re doing something right. Gov. Doyle is simply asking the oil companies – for once – to pay their fair share and give consumers a break,” said Morgan.

“If anyone has been discriminated against, it’s consumers, not a company that made $25 billion last year by charging the public exorbitant prices at the pump.”

Hofmeister also said the nation needs too look beyond using corn as an alternative source of fuel and instead employ technology that can use cellulose to produce ethanol.

“Corn-based ethanol competes for food, and now for fuel,” Hofmeister said. “Who will win – where’s the bigger dollars?”

“We’d rather not be part of that struggle of fuel versus food,” he said.

Instead, Hofmeister called for the use of technology that could use corn stalks, wheat straw and wood chips to produce ethanol.

Hofmeister made his comments at a “Blueprint Briefing” sponsored by the MMAC that featured a panel of energy experts.

Other presenters during the one-and-a-half-hour talk included: former PSC Commissioner Robert Garvin, who said America would likely continue its reliance on coal for many years to come and predicted a resurgence of interest in nuclear power; Michael Loth, director of solutions marketing for Johnson Controls, who stressed the need for energy efficient construction to ensure energy security; and Neal Verfuerth, president and CEO of Orion Energy Systems, who highlighted the need to employ technologies that save energy and money without compromise on behalf of the consumer.