Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates heads the list of corporate leaders scheduled to speak on energy and environmental issues at the fifth annual ECO:nomics conference at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Goleta from March 21 to 23.

Wall Street Journal editors and writers plan to interview Gates before a crowd of about 300 corporate officials during the three-day conference, which will include actress Daryl Hannah, who also is an environmental activist and founder of Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance.

Gates is scheduled to speak at 8:15 p.m. March 22 on “Thinking Big: Getting the World to Zero Carbon Emissions.” Hannah is scheduled to speak the same day at 5 p.m. on “What’s the Role of Celebrity Activists?”

Also scheduled to attend are: John Watson, chief executive officer of Chevron; Robert McDonald, CEO of the Procter & Gamble Co.; David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management; Aris Candris, CEO of Westinghouse Electric; John Pinkerton, CEO of Range Resources; and Jacques Besnainou, CEO of Areva Inc.

A host of experts is scheduled to speak, including: energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens; Tulsi Tanti, chairman of Suzlon Energy; Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy; Edward Cohen, CEO of Atlas Energy; John Paul DeJoria, CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems; and Dara O’Rourke, founder of GoodGuide.

Organizers said ECO:nomics is aimed at guiding corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, and government officials in assessing issues that affect the business world, innovations coming out of the clean-tech sector, the aftermath of the disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and in Japan, and the uncertainty of subsidies, funding, and regulation coming out of Washington, among other topics.

Last year’s speakers included Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co. executive chairman; Ellen Kullman, chairman and CEO of DuPont; William Reilly, co-chairman of the federal commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

In separate interviews before the mostly anti-regulatory crowd, Barbour, then considered a likely Republican Party presidential nominee, and Nichols sparred over the need for solar and other alternative sources of energy. Barbour is not seeking the nomination in this year’s race.

The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of the latest business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada,, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at and


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