Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Exxon Three Step Guide to Blocking Climate Reform

Regular readers of Really? Seriously? will know that oil giant ExxonMobil's role in America's transformation towards clean energy has been counterproductive, to put it in the most generous terms. Be it through funding sham studies, launching fake campaigns, or plain flat-out lying, we've witnessed an impressive array of misinformation from Big Oil's biggest and baddest member.

We certainly aren't the only ones to notice. Former Fortune magazine managing editor Eric Pooley penned an editorial in which he takes Exxon to task for its dastardly tactics in their attempts to derail clean energy and climate reform. In a piece entitled "Exxon Works Up New Recipe for Frying the Planet," Pooley slams the corporate giant for its lame attempts at greenwashing while exerting their influence in all corners of the globe to block reductions of carbon emissions.

Pooley effectively breaks down their strategy into three steps:

Step 1: Fund said faulty studies while outspending everyone else lobbying Congress.

Step 2: Company outings to protest clean energy, giving new definition to the term Astroturf organizing.

And, in what is a particularly compelling point (via Bloomberg):
Step 3: Offer a seemingly sensible alternative policy. Having caricatured the legislation, Exxon then offers a compromise. That’s what it did in Australia earlier this month, after the legislature shot down Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s climate proposal. Last week the chairman of Exxon’s Australian unit, John Dashwood, called for replacing cap and trade with a carbon tax. Echoing a January 2009 speech against cap and trade by Chief Executive Rex Tillerson, Dashwood said the carbon tax “is more transparent to consumers, will achieve greater environmental benefits and is more difficult to manipulate than a cap-and-trade program.”

Let’s get this straight. Exxon is demonstrating against a climate bill in the U.S. because it is supposedly a hidden tax, and on the other side of the globe it is lobbying for a tax. This may seem contradictory, but it’s not. I believe the company simply recognizes what so many others have missed in the debate over the tax versus the cap: The cap requires economy-wide emissions reductions, and the tax doesn’t.

Exxon doesn’t want to do business in a world where cuts in carbon dioxide are mandatory. It would prefer to pay a modest tax and keep on polluting.

A tax wouldn’t guarantee any carbon reductions, let alone bring about the steep cuts needed to stave off the worst climate changes. By calling for a small tax instead of a mandatory cap, that’s exactly the kind of solution Exxon is proposing.
Of course, Exxon's preferred method of action going forward is retaining the status quo, made possible by eight years of having close allies in the White House and Congress.

With the House passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act, we look forward to the Senate seeing past the pathetic arguments of these powerful interests and transition our nation to a clean energy future that will revitalize our economy, keep our nation secure, and cap harmful carbon emissions by passing legislation this fall.

Then the only question will be: in what other unproductive and harmful ways can Exxon blow more money than most of us will ever see?

No comments: