By Ben Geman - 04/30/12 01:27 PM EDT
But he now claims that he doesn't need to fight coal because he's won the debate. "I probably am not as strident as I used to be because I don't have to be. Natural gas has won in the marketplace and it is continuing to win. And so sometimes you need to dislodge a boulder and let it start rolling. And sometimes people don't notice when you've dislodged it and that's the best of all dislodgements. There are other times people look up the mountain and say, 'Who the hell is that?' And all fingers started to point to me."
Coal remains the country’s largest electric power source, but its share is falling, and that trend is expected to continue, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Domestic coal consumption in the fourth quarter of 2011 fell to its lowest level in 16 years.
Elsewhere in the interview, McClendon slams President Obama’s rejection (thus far) of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that would bring Canadian oil sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries, citing the “sway” of environmentalists.
McClendon says “these are people who have a great deal of influence with the president and I think he had lost some of their confidence and he needed to do something to deliver a victory for environmentalists.”
He also defends the program — which his company’s board is ending — that gives him a personal stake in the company’s wells.
"American business would be run better today if there was more alignment between CEOs' interest and the company," McClendon says.
The arrangement has been under fire amid revelations that McClendon took loans to help finance the stake from a company that was in talks to buy assets from Chesapeake.