Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exxon Is Back in the News—Exactly Where It Does Not Want to Be

ExxonMobil is again in the news, as its pipeline that runs UNDER the Yellowstone River ruptured and more than 1,000 barrels of oil go who knows where.  Of course a company spokesman stated that the company will do whatever it takes to clean up the spill.  Now the company revealed that the scope of the leak is greater than first disclosed.   

The company would much rather quietly reap enormous profits and returns on capital away from the public and policy makers’ attention.  This is the company that for years fought in court to delay the imposition of penalties from its Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which until the BP disaster a year ago, was probably the worst corporate-caused ecological disaster.    This is also the company that runs those friendly TV ads featuring genial scientists who talk about their families and how they want to protect the environment for their kids.  That reminds me of the Chevron magazine ads that purport to show how much they care about indigenous people who are affected by their search for oil.  This is after their Texaco subsidiary poisoned thousands of acres of Amazon rain forest and led to premature deaths of those who were forced to drink and bath in water that had become contaminated by toxic effluents from the drilling process, yet the company vehemently denies responsibility.

The recent decline in national gasoline prices provides relief to strapped households, but from a national policy standpoint, it’s unfortunate.  Subsidized oil and natural gas that do not reflect their true cost to people and the environment will keep people hooked and delay the necessary conversion to renewable, sustainable energy sources.

Steve Lehman

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