Bob Barman operates eco-friendly Chevron gas stations across Oregon in Woodburn, Beaverton, and soon in Bethany.
As a gas station owner I worked hard over the last decade to tell every media outlet that will listen about my eco-friendly gas stations. This website lets me dive into the details a bit more. Enjoy.
Location. Location. Location
The first thing I think about when planning my eco-friendly gas stations is location: I want to make the biggest ecological impact possible. Take my proposed Bethany Chevron at 185th and Market which was approved in 2023 for example. Look at this beautiful map:
You may not be familiar with plot of land I own here so let me break it down:
Now, that is the perfect place to put an eco-friendly gas station! Everyone knows oil and water don’t mix but my goal is to prove everyone wrong. I hear some of you saying: “Wait Bob! I think I have heard of gas stations leak all of the time. Isn’t this super risky?”
Well, sure, Oregon DEQ reported a 3% annual leak rate of underground storage tank sites. But, that is only 3%! And since I remember a bit of my Stats 101 class lets break that down: this station will likely operate at least 30 years so that 3% annual leak risk means there is only a 60% chance this station will leak in its operating lifetime! And as a resident of Lake Oswego and not Bethany, that is a risk I am willing to take.
Now, if you aren’t comforted by my math here just make sure you don’t read the news:
Over the years I have taken great care to ensure my chosen career as a gas station owner is perceived as eco-friendly. In 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 I got featured in industry press, the Oregonian, KGW and the Woodburn Independent (twice!) for installing LED lightbulbs at my gas station.
Is a coal fired plant eco-friendly once some LED bulbs are installed in the control room? Well a reasonable person would say no.
Are my gas stations eco-friendly because I installed some LED light bulbs? Well, I say yes. Hey, and some journalists said yes too, so there you go.
Why do I care so much? Well, as I said in the 2012 press release its all about making customers think I am doing something important:
The payoff [of LED lighbulbs] is also intangible – it’s what your customers think of you as a leader in sustainability and how you think of yourself. - Bob Barman, 2011
I don’t want you to think this is all about LED lightbulbs. I also throw some solar panels on the roof of my gas station convenience stores. How big of an impact does that have? Well, for my Bethany Lake Chevron on West Union I told the public that the station will be “near net-zero”:
(source pg 141)
What does “near net-zero” mean? Well, if you forget I am selling gas at a gas station, then yes this station is “near net zero”. If you internalize the gas selling part of the gas station business then it is resoundingly not.
But, saying near net-zero sounds better so that is what I will be saying:
Q: What is meant by “near net zero” for the solar roof? By my calculations the roof would cover a fraction of a percent of the energy of the gasoline sold. So, is this “near net zero” definition covering the electrical requirements for the pumps, lighting, etc.
A: The site will utilize both a geothermal heat pump and solar panels to help mitigate the energy used by the station. These will be used along other green strategies outlined previously. (source)
Lets do the numbers: with a generous solar production estimate that assumes coverage of the entire roof of my proposed Bethany gas station the solar generation will offset 0.01% of the carbon emissions from the gas fuel that is estimated to sell every year based on my application documents.
OK, maybe I confused “near net zero” with nearly zero? I don’t know. Moving on.
Running a business is hard. There are so many pressures to ensure you can pull off a profit. As a owner of Chevron gas stations it is hard to keep things running. Sure, Chevron reported a record doubling of profits in 2023 to $36.5 billion. But, I am just a small cog in that machine.
That’s why I work hard to ensure that each of my businesses is held in a separate limited liability company so that my business assets aren’t suddenly taken from me just because my gas station leaks oil all over someone else’s community.
Q (Brandon Philips): How do you guarantee the stewardship though? Are you prepared to fund a trust or put liens against other properties to guarantee funding in case of an accident?
A (Bob Barman): We are not new: we have been recognized as great stewards. We will not be funding a trust or put liens against other properties. (source)
Now, you might say, Bob, do gas stations really leak and cause disasters that owners walk away from? Well, I will say no, that never happens, don’t worry, trust me! Just, don’t ask me to pay for it. And whatever you do don’t read the news:
Curious about my companies?
Look, as a franchisee of Chevron I have learned from the best on how to push externalities onto local communities, extract profits, and greenwash my way to success. If you need to learn more checkout this Chevron ad (warning, audio contains expletives).
Q: I am beginning to think this isn’t actually a website from Bob Barman of Lake Oswego?
A: No, it is a parody site using direct quotes from Bob Barman to resist the greenwashing of the oil and gas industry at the local level in Oregon. The US Supreme Court recently published an excellent brief from the finest new source in the world if you need a reminder on what parody is.
For more information visit postpump.org or nabgas.com.
Q: Why did you write this website?
I was getting very tired of media outlets continually calling Bob Barman’s gas stations eco-friendly. Notably I threw my hands up and put fingers to keyboard after the Beaverton Vallety Times wrote this on Feb, 1 2023:
This is Barman’s third “eco-friendly” Chevron gas station in the Portland metro area, including one at Southwest Allen and Murray boulevards in Beaverton’s Highland neighborhood.
Q: Isn’t it important for businesses to take incremental steps to improve their eco-friendliness?
A: Sure, absolutely, but lets not delude ourselves. You can’t sell millions of gallons of gasoline, store that gasoline adjacent to creeks, lakes, and groundwater and then think putting in an LED lightbulb or throwing up a solar panel is something to be celebrated. It is the bare minimum and no one should claim doing these things makes any business “eco-friendly” particular an oil and gas business.
Q: What would you like to see Bob and other gas station owners change?
A: First, stop siting gas stations next to public infrastructure and lands. Over and over again we see the negative outcomes of this as damage hits public property and taxpayers pay for the cleanup:
The most responsible thing we can do with gas stations is to carefully select sites where they will be the cheapest and easiest to cleanup. Location. Location. Location. The inevitable financial and ecological disaster of the end of life cleanup varies greatly depending on location. And, worse, all too often those end of life costs get socialized back onto taxpayers.
Second, structure your companies so that they will cover 100% of the cost of cleanup and decommissioning. It is 2023 we know for a fact oil and gas is not the future so prepare for those costs now. Create a trust, divert your profits, and fund that trust fully in the next 20 years in preparation. Because, frankly, all too often the public pays for the cleanups.
What I advocate for is actually changing policies to ensure gas station owners have to take actual financial responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their business. As it is today oil and gas businesses get too much credit for throwing some cool lightbulbs and a solar panel on a project. And we need to stop calling this green, eco-friendly, or net-zero.
Q: Is this domain for sale?
A: Thank you for your interest, unfortunately this domain is not for sale. Contact me if you have questions.
Q: Should I feel bad for buying gas for my car?
A: Absolutely not! Using cars is a reality of society as it is built today. Heck, gas station owners are fine people too. I am sure Bob enthusiastically believes he is doing good and more power to him.
Q: What can I do personally?
A: If you live in Washington County Oregon join our campaign to introduce restrictions on gas station siting. If you live elsewhere checkout great people doing work like Coltura, SAFE Cities, and Con Gas