Late Friday, a chemical engineer was complaining to me that the U.S. needs to spend an "order of magnitude" more on biofuels research, his field, if the country is to really tackle the energy challenge.
But, I asked, didn't BP just jumpstart the field with a half-billion-dollar, 10-year biofuels research center at UC Berkeley?
"$500 million? Drop in the bucket for them. That's just a nice goodbye present for their CEO, who just left," the engineer said of BP's Lord Browne (left), who was outspoken in his calls for alternative energy and carbon emissions limits and is set to leave the firm in the summer. "Exxon gave their CEO that huge package, and the BP guy got the research on the way out."
ExxonMobil, which made nearly $40 billion in 2006, gave CEO Lee Raymond a $400 million retirement package when he left the firm last year.