Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ExxonMobil Contributes $1.5 Million to Climate Deniers

Despite pledges to stop funding such groups, ExxonMobil gave $1.5 million to climate deniers and energy industry front groups last year, according to the Times of London.

Exxon-backed groups used this infusion of oil money to build the frenzy surrounding the “Climategate” non-scandal and other efforts to derail progress towards an international agreement to fight climate change at the COP-15 talks in Copenhagen last winter.

The Times article notes [subscription required]:
Several [of the Exxon-funded groups] made outspoken attacks on climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and argued their leaked e-mails showed that the dangers of global warming had been grossly exaggerated.

The scientists were exonerated this month by an independent inquiry but groups funded by Exxon have continued to lambast them. The Media Research Centre, which received $50,000 last year from Exxon, called the inquiry a "whitewash" and condemned "climate alarmists".

Some of Exxon's largest donations were to groups that lobbied against a global deal on emissions being reached at the climate summit last December in Copenhagen.
The Times then goes on to discuss how Exxon had pledged in 2007 to stop funding climate denier groups:
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, [Exxon] stated: "In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner."

Exxon also gave reassurances last year that it had no funding links with the sceptics' biggest annual conference, the International Conference on Climate Change. But a list published by Exxon this month of its "2009 worldwide contributions and investments" revealed that it had given four cosponsors of the New York event a total of $275,000. It also gave $1 million to 20 other sceptic groups.
Whoops. And how would Exxon respond to the fact that they didn't make good on their pledge to stop funding denier groups? By regurgitating that commitment:
After being contacted by The Times, Exxon announced that it would no longer fund the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Media Research Centre or the Pacific Research Institute. Exxon did not comment on whether it would continue to fund the other 21 sceptic groups to which it gave money last year.

It said in a statement: "We fund a wide range of groups. Every year, we do an evaluation and make funding decisions.

If a group's position on climate change becomes distracting or diverts attention away from this important discussion, we evaluate whether we will continue funding." Exxon said it selected groups because of their work "on a variety of issues, for example Heritage Foundation to further discussion on tax and trade issues".
Riiiiiiight. We believe that, just as we believed BP when they pledged to plug the gaping hole at the bottom of the Gulf in a timely fashion.

Progress Parade: Why Gulf Coast Oysters LOVE Oil Spills!

We talk all the time in this space about how ridiculous groups like the American Petroleum Institute are. As the oil industry's trade association, API spends millions on slick TV ads like these telling us that clean energy and climate legislation is bad and oil is all hugs and sunshine.

Whenever we see these ads, we can't help but wonder how absurd they'll look to people 50 years from now. Now, thanks to a great YouTube find, we know EXACTLY how absurd they'll look.

They'll look just as absurd as "Progress Parade: Oil," a 1960 American Petroleum Institute infomercial about how happy and healthy Gulf Coast oysters are when they're submerged in vats of oil-polluted water:

Look! They even made little baby oysters! Isn't oil great? In fact, according to what API would have us believe about how a noxious, slimy black substance interacts with organic life, Gulf Coast fishermen should be out there RIGHT NOW bringing oil-covered seafood to dinner tables everywhere! YUM.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Oil Mouthpiece

Offshore drilling proponents, undeterred by the evidence that all of their previous claims about drilling safety were completely wrong, continue to push for deepwater drilling in the very region that is struggling to survive the current spill.

Joseph R. Mason, Louisiana State University Chair of Banking, and a highly respected puppet of the oil industry, has just put out a paper claiming that the temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling the Obama administration put in place last week will cost the United States $2.8 billion in economic activity.

While Mason works full time for LSU, the questionable report in question is funded by the American Energy Alliance, on of R?S? favorite polluter front groups. AEA President Thomas Pyle is a powerful lobbyist for Big Oil and a former staffer of Tom Delay. Pyle and AEA have invested in pro-drilling reports like this in the past, and have gotten the misinformation they paid for.

When looking at the bloated estimate of the cost of the moratorium, it is important to remember that Secretary Salazar did not put a temporary moratorium in place as a jobs stimulus plan. He did so because it was his responsibility to only allow drilling if it can be demonstrated to meet minimum safety and environmental standards. If rig owners cannot demonstrate that they can drill without endangering their workers and causing greater damage to the Gulf ecosystem, then they simply should not be allowed to drill.

Mason conveniently ignores worker safety and the environment, or "externalities," when coming up with his sum. Mason's argument is that $2 billion in economic activity is enough to justify an industry's practices. So what if they nearly destroyed the Gulf through negligence, greed, and incompetence? That was, like, one time! (FYI it was one BIG time and a bunch of smaller spills). I suppose Joseph Mason would be just as eager to advocate for drug trafficking because it provides high paying jobs.

Big Oil will likely be using their front groups like AEA to tout this paper in the next couple of weeks as they continue to try to deflect attention and fail to take real responsibility for what they have done.

FOX News: Supporting America's Veterans, Unless Fox Disagrees With Them

As if we needed any more evidence that FOX News essentially functions as the communications arm for Big Oil's congressional allies - opposing any sort of clean energy and climate bill - the network has rejected without explanation a second advertisement from the veterans' group VoteVets.

As reported by Politico's Ben Smith, FOX is refusing to air this spot, featuring retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson, who was the top logistics aide to the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus:

As Smith points out, it's the second time in recent months that FOX has rejected an ad from VoteVets.

For a network whose anchors literally shed tears on the air while talking about their love of country, denying a decorated military leader the chance to speak his mind about a national security issue is -- and these are hard to come by these days at FOX -- a new low.

FAIL: Barrier-Islands Off Louisiana Coast

Classic rock immortal Robert Plant once sang, "When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me." So, maybe Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is just a huge Zepp fan. That's as logical as any explanation for his insistence on responding to the BP oil disaster as he has.

Today, the Washington Post is reporting on one of Louisiana's primary strategies for keeping oil out its sensitive coastal marshes: put solid land in its way. The state has proposed building 128 miles of islands in arcs off the coast - and has already received the federal go-ahead to construct 45 miles worth of these berms - using rocks, sandbags in metal frames, and mounds of dredged sand.

The one problem? These artificial “barrier islands” are already failing. How surprising, considering, “categorically, across the board, every coastal scientistquestioned the wisdom of the program.

The first artificial island project is already showing serious signs of erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army Corps of Engineers show that the artificial island E-4 - from which WaPo reported - intended to reach an 18-mile length, is struggling to survive at 1,100 feet:
berm E4, June 25 berm E4, July 7
Berm E-4, June 25 Berm E-4, July 7
berm E-4, July 8
Berm E-4, July 8

Jindal pushed to build the $360 million project, trying to justify the barrier-island construction back in May by saying it was the “obvious” thing to do:

It makes so much sense. It’s so obvious. We gotta do it

We know it works, we have seen it work, but if they need to see it work, they need to do that quickly,” argued Jindal. On May 27, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attacked President Barack Obama, calling his administration’s caution “absolutely outrageous“:

Here the president doesn’t seem to have a clue. His decision on the emergency dredging barrier island plan is a thinly veiled ‘no.’ Approving two percent of the request and kicking the rest months down the road is outrageous, absolutely outrageous.
Jindal continues to press for the federal government to approve the emergency construction of 125 miles of sand berms, arguing the 0.2 miles constructed are “are doing what they were intended to do” -- even as they crumble into the sea.