MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Recognizing the global energy crisis and the continued use of unsustainable fossil fuels, four experts in the energy field will convene for a panel discussion and brainstorming session with the audience during Middlebury College’s annual D.K. Smith Lecture Series event Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Middlebury College Luce Professor of International Environmental Economics Jonathan Isham, Parthenon Resources President William McConathy and Phoenix Oil and Gas President Pat McConathy will serve on a panel titled “Fuel or Food: Dealing with the Global Energy Crisis” from 4:30-6 p.m. in Room 216 of Middlebury College’s McCardell Bicentennial Hall, on Bicentennial Way, off Route 125. Middlebury College Scholar-in-Residence in Environmental Studies Bill McKibben will be moderator. A reception will follow. Both events are free and open to the public.

The discussion will cover several topics, including dwindling fossil fuel supplies worldwide; how conservation and rising fuel efficiency might ease the crisis; and whether or not the development of crop-based ethanol and biodiesel will pit the energy industry against the food industry.

A 2005 Middlebury College graduate, William McConathy is the founder of Parthenon Resources, an energy venture company that specializes in the production of alternative energies such as ethanol, wind and solar power. His company also focuses on the acquisition and development of oil, gas and alternative energy resources.  

In 1990, Pat McConathy formed Phoenix Oil and Gas, a company that purchases and operates oil and gas properties in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. In 2004, McConathy’s company and its partner Castle Peak Resources began acquiring and operating properties on- and offshore in California. In 2005, they purchased $150 million worth of properties. Together, the two companies now own 11 of the 21 drilling platforms off California’s shore, and operate offices in Bakersfield and Ventura, as well as in Vail, Colo.

Jon Isham has been a member of the Middlebury faculty since 1999, and regularly teaches classes in environmental economics, environmental policy, and introductory microeconomics. His winter term classes have addressed such topics as the role of social capital in Vermont, the challenge of making Middlebury College carbon neutral, and strategies for building the climate-change movement. Isham is currently co-editing a new book, “Ignition: How the Climate-Change Movement can Spark a Clean-Energy Revolution and Restore the Power of Community,” to be published by Island Press in 2007. 

Moderator Bill McKibben is the author of nine books on the environment and other topics. His book “The End of Nature,” the first book for a general audience on global warming, is now available in 20 foreign languages. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, his work appears in Harpers, the Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, and a variety of other national publications. McKibben is the recipient of Guggenheim and Lyndhurst fellowships and the Lannan Prize in Nonfiction Writing. His most recent book is “Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America’s Most Hopeful Region, Vermont’s Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondacks.”

The Professor David K. Smith Visiting Economic Lecture Series is held each year in honor of David K. Smith, professor emeritus of Middlebury College and 1942 Middlebury graduate. While teaching at Middlebury, Smith created a course in environmental economics, and was for many years advisor to all environmental studies majors with an economics focus. A resident of the towns of Middlebury and Pittsford, he served for 23 years as a consultant for the Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, and as a member of the Vermont State Council of Economic Advisors for four Vermont governors. He has served on numerous state commissions advising on energy and tax issues. He is the author of textbooks on money, banking and accounting.

For more information, contact Middlebury College DigitalBridges Program Director MariAnn Osborne at 802-443-5435, or by e-mail at mosborne@middlebury.edu.