Several subjects are difficult for me to write about. At such times, a long-ago professor’s words comes to mind. He advised young writers to take extra care with emotion-charged topics, cautioning that the message could be lost amid the sentiment. Still, I have to try.
The terms fracking, toxic tar sands, genetically modified organisms, carcinogenic chemicals, metallic sulfide mining, acid mine drainage and many others stir fear-filled loathing. I need answers to troubling questions:
• Are the people who run these companies and our government genuinely evil or just exceedingly naïve as they destroy our planet in the name of energy and jobs?
• Why are so many of us, seduced by energy-guzzling lifestyles and the promise of jobs, unwilling to change our wasteful ways? A recent report stated that most people would rather adjust to the negative effects of our actions than change them.
• What are the most effective things people who truly care can do to make a difference before it is too late?
The natural environment, particularly fresh water, is our source of life and livelihood, ultimately more precious than oil and craved by other countries.
Now, Enbridge wants to increase both the pressure within and poisonous content of the oil flowing through this aging pipeline. The existing pipeline should be removed, not made more vulnerable to a disaster of absolutely unparalleled proportions from which there can be no real recovery.
What happened in 1989 in the exquisitely beautiful Prince William Sound, Alaska, thanks to Exxon can never be undone nor can it in the Gulf, due to the negligence of British Petroleum, or here in Calhoun County, compliments of Enbridge.
Major corporations lie willfully, continually and without compunction. British Petroleum pats itself on the back in its public relations for its “commitment that began two years ago” to the Gulf Coast.
Awfully late isn’t it? Where was its “commitment” from the very beginning of any thought of drilling for oil in the Gulf or anywhere else for that matter? Shame on them and shame on those who are swayed by the verbiage.
Likewise, Chevron brags that it is so concerned about the environment that if it cannot do things right, it won’t do them at all. Yet when this hyperbole began airing, the company had been cited for deliberately violating environmental regulations at one of its major operations in California.
To me, Monsanto is a curse word. What would Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movement, say if she were alive today? Might her words be a prophetic: “I told you so”?
Genetically modified crops are already linked to health problems while Monsanto intimidates farmers who want to work with heirloom seeds in sustainable settings. It is seeking government approval to allow more toxic “Round-Up” residue on food crops.
Corporate executives and government officials snuggle up and plump pillows in the same bed. It is all so convenient and cozy for deal-making and favor-swapping.
Yet, my anger isn’t just directed at them. It is also at us, the public. We’re being lied to, our world is being poisoned before our eyes and many of us blithely do nothing constructive or corrective. We are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.
On July 14, we have the opportunity to take steps on behalf of change at “Oil & Water Don’t Mix: A Rally for the Great Lakes” to be held at Bridge View Park in St. Ignace, in view of the Mackinac Bridge. (See http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.
com and the report by the National Wildlife Federation, “Sunken Hazard.”)
Without drinkable water, breathable air, and safe food-bearing soil, we cannot live. Can it be put any more directly than that? I am angry. You should be too. But anger isn’t enough. What will we do?
Corporate Crimes the Villains gallery
Dedicated to those who do not have to serve jail time.
Dedicated to those with the money to buy justice.
Dedicated to those who have the wealth bypass their legal obligations
Dedicated to those who live without ethical obligations to their fellow man
Dedicated to those who destroy the planet for profit alone
Dedicated to the arms dealers who sell their weapons of destruction to all and sundry
Dedicated to all who have abandoned all sense of moral responsibility for what they do
Dedicated to those who look after the 1% of the world’s population
While 2012 might not be a banner year for Big Oil profits, it wasn’t a bad one either. With just BP left to announce 2012 earnings, Big Oil earned well over $100 billion in profits last year, while the companies benefit from continued taxpayer subsidies. Average gas prices also hit a record high last year, showing how a drilling boom may help oil companies’ profit margins, but not consumers’ wallets.
ExxonMobil — now the most valuable company in the world, passing Apple — earned $45 billion profit in 2012, a 9 percent jump over 2011. Meanwhile, Chevron earned $26.2 billion for the year. In the final three months of the year, the companies earned $9.95 billion and $7.2 billion respectively.
Here are the highlights of how Exxon and Chevron spend their earnings:
Exxon received $600 million annual tax breaks. In 2011, Exxon paid just 13 percent in taxes. The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.
Exxon’s oil production was down 6 percent from 2011.
In fourth quarter, Exxon bought back $5.3 billion of its stock, which enriches the largest shareholders and executives of the company.
Exxon’s federal campaign contributions totaled $2.77 million for the 2012 cycle, sending 89 percent to Republicans.
The company spent $12.97 million lobbying in 2012 to protect low tax rates and block pollution controls and safeguards for public health.
Exxon is moving ahead with a project to develop the tar sands in Canada.
In October, Chevron made the single-largest corporate donation in history. Chevron dropped $2.5 million with the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC to elect House Republicans.
The bulk of Chevron’s federal contributions came from the super PAC donation, for a total of $3.87 million for the 2012 cycle. 85 percent went to Republicans.
Chevron spent $9.55 million lobbying Congress in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Chevron paid 19 percent U.S. taxes last year (half of the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent), and received an estimated $700 million in annual tax breaks last year.
Chevron was fined $1 million for a refinery fire that sent 15,000 Richmond, California residents to the hospital. Though the company faces $10 million in medical expenses, Chevron earns it back in a couple of hours.
With Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips reporting $35 billion in combined profit in 2012, BP is the last company left to announce its profits for the year.
Exxon Mobil one of the most irresponsible/corrupt companies in the world has now reached the pinnacle of the corporate world
Exxon overtakes Apple as biggest public company in the world
Apple lost its position as the biggest public company in the world on Friday, amid growing concerns that its extraordinary growth trajectory of recent years is coming to an end.
A 2012 article in The Daily Telegraph says that ExxonMobil has “grown into one of the planet’s most hated corporations, able to determine American foreign policy and the fate of entire nations”. In terms of its environmental record, ExxonMobil increasingly drills in terrains leased to them by dictatorships, such as those in Chad and Equatorial Guinea. Lee Raymond, the corporation’s chief executive until 2005, was “notoriously sceptical about climate change and disliked government interference at any level”. The company was widely criticized for its slow response to cleaning its 1989 Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
ExxonMobil has been a contributor to environmental causes (the company donated $6.6 million to environmental and social groups in 2007 Its environmental record has been a target of critics from outside organizations such as the environmental lobby group Greenpeace as well as some institutional investors who disagree with its stance on global warming. The Political Economy Research Institute ranks ExxonMobil sixth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. The ranking is based on the quantity (15.5 million pounds in 2005) and toxicity of the emissions. In 2005, ExxonMobil had committed less than 1% of their profits towards researching alternative energy, less than other leading oil companies.
Main article: Exxon Valdez oil spill
The March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill resulted in the discharge of approximately 11 million US gallons (42,000 m3) of oil into Prince William Sound, oiling 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of the remote Alaskan coastline. The Valdez spill is 36th worst oil spill in history in terms of sheer volume.
The State of Alaska’s Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council stated that the spill “is widely considered the number one spill worldwide in terms of damage to the environment”. Carcasses were found of over 35,000 birds and 1,000 sea otters. Because carcasses typically sink to the seafloor, it’s estimated the death toll may be 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and up to 22 killer whales. Billions of salmon and herring eggs were also killed.
Oil remains on or under more than half the sound’s beaches, according to a 2001 federal survey. The government-created Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council concluded that the oil disappears at less than 4 percent per year, adding that the oil will “take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely”. Of the 27 species monitored by the Council, 17 have not recovered. While the salmon population has rebounded, and the killer whales are recovering, the herring population and fishing industry have not.
Exxon was widely criticized for its slow response to cleaning up the disaster. John Devens, the Mayor of Valdez, has said his community felt betrayed by Exxon’s inadequate response to the crisis.Exxon later removed the name “Exxon” from its tanker shipping subsidiary, which it renamed “SeaRiver Maritime.” The renamed subsidiary, though wholly Exxon-controlled, has a separate corporate charter and board of directors, and the former Exxon Valdez is now the SeaRiver Mediterranean. The renamed tanker is legally owned by a small, stand-alone company, which would have minimal ability to pay out on claims in the event of a further accident.
After a trial, a jury ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, though an appeals court reduced that amount by half. Exxon appealed further, and on June 25, 2008, the United States Supreme Court lowered the amount to $500 million.
In 2009, Exxon still uses more single-hull tankers than the rest of the largest ten oil companies combined, including the Valdez’s sister ship, the SeaRiver Long Beach.
Exxon’s Brooklyn oil spill
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced on July 17, 2007 that he had filed suit against the Exxon Mobil Corporation and ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company to force cleanup of the oil spill at Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and to restore Newtown Creek.
A study of the spill released by the US Environmental Protection Agency in September 2007 reported that the spill consists of 17 to 30 million US gallons (64,000 to 110,000 m3) of petroleum products from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. The largest portion of these operations were by ExxonMobil or its predecessors. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was approximately 11 million US gallons (42,000 m3). The study reported that in the early 20th century Standard Oil of New York operated a major refinery in the area where the spill is located. The refinery produced fuel oils, gasoline, kerosene and solvents. Naptha and gas oil, secondary products, were also stored in the refinery area. Standard Oil of New York later became Mobil, a predecessor to Exxon/Mobil.
Baton Rouge Refinery pipeline oil spill
In April 2012, a crude oil pipeline, from the Exxon Corp Baton Rouge Refinery, burst and spilled at least 1,900 barrels of oil,(80,000 gallons)in the rivers of Point Coupee Parish, Louisiana shutting down the Exxon Corp Baton Refinery for a few days. Regulators opened an investigation in response to the pipeine oil spill. Local Louisiana residents were not informed until days after the Exxon pipeline oil spill. Needs revision. Inaccurate based upon cited source.
Yellowstone River oil spill
The July 2011 Yellowstone River oil spill was an oil spill from an ExxonMobil pipeline running from Silver Tip to Billings, Montana, which ruptured about 10 miles west of Billings on July 1, 2011 at about 11:30 pm The resulting spill leaked an estimated 750 to 1,000 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River for about 30 minutes before it was shut down.
As a precaution against a possible explosion, officials in Laurel, Montana evacuated about 140 people on Saturday (July 2) just after midnight, then allowed them to return at 4 am
A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said that the oil is within 10 miles of the spill site. However, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer disputed the accuracy of that figure. The governor pledged that “The parties responsible will restore the Yellowstone River.”
Sakhalin-I in the Russian Far East
Scientists and environmental groups voice concern that the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project in the Russian Far East, operated by an ExxonMobil subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL), threatens the critically endangered western gray whale population.In February, 2009, independent scientists, convened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature issued an urgent call for a “…moratorium on all industrial activities, both maritime and terrestrial, that have the potential to disturb gray whales in summer and autumn on and near their main feeding areas” following a sharp decline in observed whales in the main feeding area in 2008, adjacent to ENL’s project area. The scientists also criticized ENL’s unwillingness to cooperate with the scientific panel process, which “certainly impedes the cause of western gray whale conservation.”
Funding of global warming skeptics
ExxonMobil has been accused of paying to fuel skepticism of anthropogenic global warming (i.e. the belief that an increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere is due to the greenhouse effect, caused primarily by increased levels of carbon dioxide released in the burning of coal and petroleum-based fuels).
ExxonMobil has drawn criticism from the environmental lobby for funding organizations critical of the Kyoto Protocol and skeptical of the scientific opinion that global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. According to Mother Jones Magazine, the company channeled more than $8 million to forty different organizations that challenged the scientific evidence of global warming and that the company was a member of one of the first such skeptic groups, the Global Climate Coalition, founded in 1989. According to The Guardian, ExxonMobil has funded, among other groups skeptical of global warming, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute, Congress on Racial Equality, TechCentralStation.com, and International Policy Network. ExxonMobil’s support for these organizations has drawn criticism from the Royal Society, the academy of sciences of the United Kingdom. The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report in 2007 accusing ExxonMobil of spending $16 million, between 1998 and 2005, towards 43 advocacy organizations which dispute the impact of global warming. The report argued that ExxonMobil used disinformation tactics similar to those used by the tobacco industry in its denials of the link between lung cancer and smoking, saying that the company used “many of the same organizations and personnel to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue.”] These charges are consistent with a purported 1998 internal ExxonMobil strategy memo, posted by the environmental group Environmental Defense, stating
Victory will be achieved when
Average citizens [and the media] ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom’ …
Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear out of touch with reality.
ExxonMobil has been reported as having plans to invest up to US$100m over a ten-year period in Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project.
A survey carried out by the UK’s Royal Society found that in 2005 ExxonMobil distributed $2.9m to 39 groups that the society said “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence”.
In August 2006, the Wall Street Journal revealed that a YouTube video lampooning Al Gore, titled Al Gore’s Penguin Army, appeared to be astroturfing by DCI Group, a Washington PR firm with ties to ExxonMobil.
In January 2007, the company appeared to change its position, when vice president for public affairs Kenneth Cohen said “we know enough now—or, society knows enough now—that the risk is serious and action should be taken.” Cohen stated that, as of 2006, ExxonMobil had ceased funding of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and “‘five or six’ similar groups”. While the company did not publicly state which the other similar groups were, a May 2007 report by Greenpeace does list the five groups it stopped funding as well as a list of 41 other climate skeptic groups which are still receiving ExxonMobil funds.
On February 13, 2007, ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson acknowledged that the planet was warming while carbon dioxide levels were increasing, but in the same speech gave an unqualified defense of the oil industry and predicted that hydrocarbons would dominate the world’s transportation as energy demand grows by an expected 40 percent by 2030. Tillerson stated that there is no significant alternative to oil in coming decades, and that ExxonMobil would continue to make petroleum and natural gas its primary products, saying: “I’m no expert on biofuels. I don’t know much about farming and I don’t know much about moonshine. … There is really nothing ExxonMobil can bring to that whole biofuels issue. We don’t see a direct role for ourselves with today’s technology.” However, recently Exxonmobil has announced that it will plan on spending up to 600 million dollars within the next 10 years to fund biofuels that come from algae. On July 14, 2010 Exxonmobil announced that, a year after teaming with Synthetic Genomics, Inc., they had opened a greenhouse to research algae as a possible biofuels
On July 1, 2009, The Guardian newspaper revealed that ExxonMobil has continued to fund organizations including the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) along with the Heritage Foundation, despite a public pledge to cut support of lobby groups who deny climate change.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, was a watershed moment for environmental critics of the oil industry.
Foreign business practices
Investigative reporting by Forbes Magazine raised questions about ExxonMobil’s dealings with the leaders of oil-rich nations. ExxonMobil controls concessions covering 11 million acres (45,000 km2) off the coast of Angola that hold an estimated 7.5 billion barrels (1.19×109 m3) of crude.
In 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets Control reported that ExxonMobil engaged in illegal trade with Sudan and it, along with dozens of other companies, settled with the United States government for $50,000.
In March 2003, James Giffen of the Mercator Corporation was indicted, accused of bribing President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan with $78 million to help ExxonMobil win a 25 percent share of the Tengiz oilfield, the third largest in the world. On April 2, 2003, former-Mobil executive J. Bryan Williams was indicted on tax charges relating to this same transaction. The case is the largest under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This series of events is depicted in the film Syriana.
In a U.S. Department of Justice release dated September 18, 2003, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that J. Bryan Williams, a former senior executive of Mobil Oil Corporation, had been sentenced to three years and ten months in prison on charges of evading income taxes on more than $7 million in unreported income, “including a $2 million kickback he received in connection with Mobil’s oil business in Kazakhstan.” According to documents filed with the court, Williams’ unreported income included millions of dollars in kickbacks from governments, persons, and other entities with whom Williams conducted business while employed by Mobil. In addition to his sentence, Williams must pay a fine of $25,000 and more than $3.5 million in restitution to the IRS, in addition to penalties and interest.
Main article: Accusations of ExxonMobil human rights violations in Indonesia
ExxonMobil is the target of human rights activists for actions taken by the corporation in the Indonesian territory of Aceh. In June 2001 a lawsuit against ExxonMobil was filed in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The suit alleges that the ExxonMobil knowingly assisted human rights violations, including torture, murder and rape, by employing and providing material support to Indonesian military forces, who committed the alleged offenses during civil unrest in Aceh. Human rights complaints involving Exxon’s (Exxon and Mobil had not yet merged) relationship with the Indonesian military first arose in 1992; the company denies these accusations and filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which was denied in 2008 by a federal judge, but then dismissed in August 2009 by a different federal judge. The dismissal is currently under appeal.
When Exxon Corporation merged with Mobil Corporation in 1999, the newly merged company ended enrollment in Mobil Corporation’s domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of employees, and it rescinded formal prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation by removing it from the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy In 2010 the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT lobbying group and political action committee, gave Exxon Mobil a score of “0” in its Corporate Equality Index, a scorecard that rated 590 companies on several criteria including diversity training that covers gender identity issues, transgender-inclusive medical coverage including surgical procedures, and “positively engaging the external LGBT community.” On May 26, 2010 ExxonMobil shareholders voted down LGBT benefits for its employees – only 22% of shareholders voted yes for the issue.
ExxonMobil’s headquarters are located in Irving, Texas.
As of January 2010, the company is conducting an internal study regarding possible consolidation of facilities to the northern Houston suburb of Spring, at the intersection of Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road. Architectural documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle outline an elaborate corporate campus, including twenty office buildings totaling 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), a wellness center, laboratory, and multiple parking garages. Alan Jeffers, a spokesperson for the company, did not say whether the consolidation study includes the Irving headquarters, but definitely includes the Fairfax headquarters. Chris Wallace, the chief executive of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, said that he believed that it does include the headquarters. In October 2010 the company stated that it would not move its headquarters to Greater Houston.
Since then, the corporation has acknowledged a move to a suburb between The Woodlands, TX and Spring, TX. This campus will be built to house 8,000 employees, and will be an environment that is suitable for work, play, and life. Beginning early in 2014, and ending some time in 2015, employees will move into the campus and begin work.[
“A recent analysis by Carbon Brief from 2011 concluded that 9 out of 10 climate scientists who claim that climate change is not happening have ties to ExxonMobil. The results showed that out of the 938 papers cited by climate sceptics, 186 of them were written by only ten men, and foremost among them was Dr Craig D. Idso, who personally authored 67 of them. Idso is the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second most prolific was Dr Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who receives roughly 40% of his funding from the oil industry.”
* “Two days after [this report] was published, [Philip] Cooney resigned his position as chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and got a job at ExxonMobil. However, his resignation was planned months before the memo was leaked and he had already accepted the position at ExxonMobil.”
Imagine if your government gave a company a sweet deal to build your local playground. Then, that company dumped toxic waste underneath where your kids play everyday, just because it was the most profitable thing for them to do.
What would you do? Obviously you’d protect your children and demand that the company fully pay to clean up their mess. You’d demand that the company pay for any medical help needed by your kids. Finally, you’d demand that your government immediately stop sending your tax dollars — subsidies — to that company.
That company is Exxon, the playground is our planet, and the sweet deal they get is by way of massive government handouts. But Exxon is not alone; their competitors and industry friends in the fossil fuel game are all running their businesses in a way that is ruining our children’s futures.
In short, if you judge Exxon and other fossil fuel companies not by the words on their press releases, but by their actions and predictable consequences, Exxon really must hate your children. The facts speak for themselves.