The Economist Bashes Ethanol While Promoting a Chevron Investment

This sort of thing makes it tough to take the Economist seriously.

I was reading an article on The Economist called Ethanol, schmethanol that explains why ethanol is a poor choice as an automotive fuel:

Economist Article

The article goes on to explain that a new technology being developers by a company called Codexis could provide a true alternative to petroleum as a fuel source.

So, I’m following along thinking they may have some legitimate points about ethanol. Personally, I don’t know if they’re righ tot not since I don’t know enough about the subject. However, I do notice that they mention that ethanol is effective when used in combination with petroleum, which may explain why blended fuels are so common.

But then I start noticing a lot of ads for Chevron on the page, such as this interactive unit:

Chevron Ad

and this interactive skyscraper in the left column:

Chevron Ad

So I wondered, “is there a connection between Chevron, who’s getting a lot of ad play on this article, and Conexis, who’s getting a ton of one-sided play in the article itself.”

Guess what a Google search for Codexis and Chevron returned? You can’t make this stuff up. Codexis is funded by Chevron.

Codexis, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, today announced it has raised $37 million in a Series D financing. The financing was lead by Bio*One Capital Pte Ltd of Singapore. Existing investors CMEA Ventures, Pequot Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures and Maxygen, Inc. also participated in the financing.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this looks like nothing more than a paid fluff piece for one of Chevron’s investments where Chevron said they’d kick some advertising to fund the fluff. Couldn’t they find an opposing opinion for any of the technologies they trashed in the piece? Perhaps that would have hurt the agenda of the piece while better informing readers.

What kind of journalist uses terms like, “Codexis’s technology works with pharmaceutical precision” if they aren’t being paid? How the heck could a journalist from The Economist back up such a cheer leading statement?

I like a lot of the stuff The Economist writes, but after reading this piece, I’m going to be a lot more wary about things I read from them in the future.

2 thoughts on “The Economist Bashes Ethanol While Promoting a Chevron Investment”

  1. Ed, I agree with the seeming conflict of interest. However, the economics don’t lie. The oil companies have a ton of cash on hand and will not be left behind when “new energy” finds its way into the economic (political???) landscape–heck BTU’s are BTU’s and if there is a way to profit from it on a trading/commodity basis, they will be there. Heck, they’ve been efficient at it since the early 1900’s, whey would it be different in a free market economy in the future???

    Dang, I sound like a conservative, don’tI??? Let’s talk off line sometime… I’ll let you buy.


  2. If I was Chevron, I’d make investments in green companies too. Even if the investments didn’t pan out, you could still say that you were “investing in tomorrow’s green energy solutions” with a straight face.

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