Hart Energy's Frederick Potter remembered

By Hart Energy | February 21, 2012

The Hart Energy Board of Directors announced Feb. 21 that the company's executive vice president and board member, Frederick L. Potter, has passed away. 

The White House, Congress, the U.S. EPA , U.S. DOE and leading energy companies worldwide all called upon Potter to provide insightful analysis on motor fuels, refining and air quality issues. He served as chairman of the United Nations Alternative Octane Working Group for worldwide lead phase-down and sulfur reduction as part of the UN – US EPA Partnership on Clean Fuels and Vehicles. In December 2010, he was recognized by the EPA for his life-long contributions to advancing clean fuels.

"This is a sad day for Hart Energy," said Richard Eichler, the company's vice chairman and chief executive officer.  "We have lost a leader and a uniquely inspiring individual."

According to C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel and U.S. ambassador to the European Union, "Fred Potter was one of the most beloved figures in an otherwise tough town. He did more professionally to bring oil and auto industries into the 21st century of clean air, facilitating an era of cooperation unheard of for decades before he came on the scene. "His contribution to the environment was thus singular -- unmatched by any individual I know or, I am tempted to add, any organization," Gray said.  "He was not known to the wider public, but for the world he so influenced he will never be replaced."

Potter directed and provided professional contributions to Hart Energy's global research and analysis team responsible for global crude, motor fuels, renewable fuels, biofuels and refining technology analysis. Throughout a distinguished 30-year career in Washington, D.C., he established himself as one of the world's leading proponents of clean fuels research.

"Fred Potter was so much more than one of the world's top experts on fuels. He was a leader passionately committed to strengthening our industry, the nation, and to serving everyone who relied on Hart Energy as an important source of information and analysis," said Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers -- formerly the National Petroleum Refiners Association (NPRA). "Those of us who worked with him as a professional colleague and, more importantly, knew him as a friend, are blessed and very fortunate," Drevna said. "And both those who knew him and many who never met him will continue to benefit tremendously by his work to build a better energy future for America."

"Fred has been a bridge connecting the environmental needs of our society with the industrial reality of oil refining," said Thomas O'Malley, chairman of PBF Energy.  "His practical approach resulted in more progress on the environmental front than any of us could have imagined. All of us at PBF will miss Fred and will always remember he represented the smiling face of the possible."

Bill Klesse, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president of Valero Energy Corp., said, "His leadership and commitment to our industry and for finding solutions between industry and regulators will be impossible to replace. We have all lost a terrific friend."

"Fred Potter remained a stalwart of peace and sobriety.  He engaged the parties on so many issues involving sensitive and conflicting points of view.  I knew him for years and yet I did not know his politics. Or his critics. Or anyone who disliked or did not respect Fred," said William K. Reilly, former EPA administrator (1989-93).  "Remaining relevant and fully in the game of controversial issues while keeping the high regard of all parties is highly unusual. But then Fred was a highly unusual person. "

Potter founded Information Resources Inc. in 1981, a strategy and analytical consultancy specializing in legislative, regulatory and market issues affecting the global motor fuels and refining industry.  Hart Energy now operates all IRI businesses. As executive vice president of Hart Energy, Potter was responsible for creating many of Hart Energy's publishing products, including FUEL magazine (formerly Fuel Reformulation) and expert newsletters such as Ethanol & Biofuels News, Diesel Fuel News, and Global Refining & Fuels Today. Under his leadership, Hart Energy established its International Fuel Quality Center, a data and consulting service for refiners, automotive manufacturers and policy makers, and its Global Biofuels Center. Potter also launched the company's World Refining and Fuels Conferences in Houston, Washington, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, and adjacent to the NPRA's Annual Meeting (each spring) in the United States.

Potter earned his Bachelor's degree in economics and history from the State University of New York, Oswego (1980). He and his wife Michelle were married in 1991 and have four children. His family resides in Haymarket, Va.