I met and interviewed Aubrey McClendon several times over the years. His passion, intelligence and ambition always shone through.
The former leader of Chesapeake Energy, which he co-founded in 1989, is widely credited with being a major force driving the shale gas revolution which has profoundly altered the energy and electric utility universe in America.
He died last week in an auto crash the day after he was indicted on a charge of conspiring to fix bids on oil and gas leases. Despite the shadow hanging over the man, he was eulogized by former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating as “a renaissance man, a man for all seasons.”
Here is an excerpt from an exchange I had with McClendon six years ago, first published in EnergyBiz magazine.
ROSENBERG: As you reflect on your career, at age 50, what gives you the biggest kick about the work you do getting up every day?
MCCLENDON: I've never been asked that question by a journalist, so I appreciate it. I love creating value. The company I co-founded 20 years ago had about a half-dozen people and $50,000 on day one. Today we are the number two natural gas producer in the country, the number one driller and employer of 8,500 people with 400,000 shareholders. We're at the cutting edge of everything that's happening on the environmental side of the world and the energy side of the world. That's a very exciting place to be.
ROSENBERG: What national energy policies should the Obama administration and Congress craft?
MCCLENDON: Embrace natural gas to reduce our importation of oil and embrace natural gas to reduce our consumption of coal. Drop climate change and just talk about improving the environment and people's health. Natural gas is the issue that can unite people. Coal and imported oil are divisive topics, not natural gas.