Keynote speaker W.C. “Rusty” Riese speaks with attendees to the Pecos Valley Energy Dinner reception, Wednesday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
American Association of Petroleum Geologists ethics lecturer W.C. “Rusty” Riese delivered a speech titled “Oil Spills, Ethics and Society: How They Intersect and Where Responsibilities Reside,” Wednesday, at the Civic Center during the Pecos Valley Energy Dinner.
Marita Noon, dinner committee member, said the event was put together by a 12-member committee that consists of professionals throughout the community who sought to counter the growing public perception that the energy industry is doing a poor job and does not care about doing what’s right.
Riese, a Houston-based geoscientist, has worked in minerals and petroleum as a geologist, geochemist and manager for more than 40 years. He has more than 30 years of teaching experience at various universities and is presently an adjunct professor at Rice University, Colorado State University and the University of New Mexico.
Riese, who in a series of presentations will speak to more than 3,000 students in the Pecos Valley by the end of today, said that it was important to him that his audience would be made up of “non-scientists and non-engineers.” The Pecos Valley Energy dinner had more than 250 teachers from the Roswell Independent School District, he said.
“When you look at oil spills, you can’t just consider the spills all by themselves,” he said. “Why are we exploring for oil? Why are we exploring for gas? It’s part of our national energy mix — oil, gas, coal.
“From there, you start thinking about what drives our economy. The U.S. provides 25 percent of the world’s GDP. We can do that because we are so well endowed and blessed with natural resources, in particular energy resources. Our carbon-based resources have huge, huge energy density. That’s what lets us compete. So I want to talk about how important it is that we not allow ourselves as a society to get sidetracked with, really, unsupportable claims about what (carbon dioxide) is doing to global warming, when in fact water vapor is more important.”
“Not everyone is going to agree with some of the conclusions I’m going to offer, that’s fine,” he said. “But they will have the data that I base my conclusions on, and then they can go inform others, discuss with others, debate with others, that’s all I want.”
In addition to the data Riese said support how “nature heals” in regards to the magnitude and frequency of big oil spills over the past 40 years, he shared his views on export oil and federal government regulations. He said Saudi Arabia might need half of its production by 2035 and all of it by 2050.
“No export oil. What does that mean to our energy balance and energy mix?” Riese said. “And there are regulations being passed by the EPA that will shut down existing coal plants on one hand, and preclude the building of new ones on the other. So what we’re doing is we’re shipping our energy advantage overseas, and we’re going to destroy our economy.”
Riese will next speak at Pearson Auditorium today from 7 to 9 p.m., where an estimated 650 cadets will attend, leaving 530 complimentary seats available for the general public. No reservations are necessary.