Training the Next Generation of Energy Champions

Last week I got the opportunity to speak to nearly 1000 employees at Pioneer Natural Resources. I have spoken to larger groups before, but this one was unique: every single one of these employees had been given a copy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by their CEO, Scott Sheffield. And in fact, all 3750 employees in the company had a copy.

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I have long believed that the employees of the fossil fuel industry are hungry for a real education about the value of their industry, one that gives them the clarity and confidence to tell their stories to others. One of my goals in writing The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels was to provide a comprehensive and affordable education for anyone who wanted to become an energy champion—someone who can clearly and confidently champion the importance of energy abundance, including the indispensable role of fossil fuels in producing it.

Well, I am happy to report that it is working. Even though the employees got their books only a few days before I came, several came to me and said they had already read the whole thing. One “apologized” for only getting to it the night before—but said he had intended on reading 20 pages and then was kept up for hours.

The highlight of my trip to Pioneer and in fact one of the highlights of my career, was the chance to speak to the young people, the millenials, at the company. Scott Sheffield was clearly passionate about the next generation learning the truth about one of our most important industries, and organized a lunch where I could answer questions from some of the brightest young employees. Well, they had so many questions that we didn’t even come close to covering them during lunch—so they asked me if I’d be willing to attend the company’s happy hour for its younger employees, which happened to be that night. I went, of course, and got to speak to bright mind after bright mind for two hours.

IMG_0708bSpeaking to the employees, I had two takeaways. One, there are hundreds of thousands of employees who are eager to learn the full case for what they do—and not getting it. Two, what they also need, and what I will be creating over the next several months, is a communication education—particularly, how to communicate one on one with friends, family, and neighbors who have been steeped in the moral case against fossil fuels. The Pioneer employees told me they would benefit tremendously from this guidance. I explained to them how I approach different situations, and they said it would be incredibly helpful to have that as a course.

So in the next month or two I will be developing an Energy Champion course that will give any person, inside or outside industry, the knowledge and communications tactics to persuade friends, family, and neighbors.

But my experience at Pioneer tells me this: the people of the fossil fuel industry need the moral case for fossil fuels now. In fact, they needed it 10 years ago. So here’s my proposition: any company that distributes the book to every employee—which, at wholesale prices, costs $11-13 an employee—will get free copies of the energy champion course for all employees.

We are a year away from one of the most important elections in this country’s history, an election where we will be making a fundamental choice between energy abundance and energy poverty. We need to amass an army of energy champions now.

Thanks to Pioneer for exemplifying its name and taking the lead in creating the next generation of energy champions. I hope hundreds of other companies do the same.

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