Archives for: May 2009
Finally. After years of denying its role in the campaign of climate denial, Exxon has revealed a dirty secret, that it has and likely still is DIRECTLY funding junk scientists.
The ExxonMobil 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report and Worldwide Giving Report were just released by the company ahead of their Annual General Meeting in Dallas tomorrow (May 27th) where the company is once again under significant pressure from Shareholder Activists.
The Worldwide Giving Reports are a key part of the data from which we have derived the ExxonSecrets funding linkages for the past decade. Through the years, most ExxonMobil Foundation and corporate grants (the ones they report to the IRS anyway) have gone to think-tanks, organizations who have in turn propped up the small army of denial scientists, amplified their voices and injected them into the media and policy arenas.
Thanks to Exxon's revealing this little secret, we now have a direct link between the Exxon black bag o' cash and two scientists who have made their careers as global warming deniers.
The new Exxon Giving report shows straight pipe funding, in the odd but specific sum of $76,106 to the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, home of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas. Or we assume the cash went to these two, until Exxon explains itself.
The Observatory is the research arm of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) which has little to do with either the Smithsonian or Harvard at this point, other than in name (founded as a joint venture in 1973). In past episodes, Smithsonian has distanced itself from Baliunas, who discredits their name.
Wait!!? Is that Ben Stiller starring as Willie and Amy Adams portraying a young spry Sally? Maybe they should spend a Night at the Museum...they might learn a few things.
The Observatory has produced some pretty useful publications over time like the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog, originally published in 1966 by Fred L. Whipple. But somewhere along the line they let in the riff raff...
Sally Baliunas built her denial career downplaying the significance of the destruction of the ozone layer, publishing a report entitled "The Ozone Crisis" in 1994 for the George Marshall Institute. Baliunas was, at the time, the chair of the Marshall Institute's Science Advisory Board and Fred Seitz was the Chairman of the Board...a full throttle denial team if ever there was one.
Remember the Marshall Institute? Oh yeah, Exxon announced that they had dropped their funding last year...who needs Marshall when you have their scientists on a leash.
Here is an excerpt from SallyBali's Ozone junk science:
Sound familiar? Talk about lies and misinformation, check out the projected cost estimates of getting rid of CFCs! Wow, was Sally wrong...its a wonder she wasn't so ashamed as to never publish again...but wait, there is no shame for a denier!
During the early Bush years, Soon and Baliunas were back in action, joint authors of a denial classic attacking mainstream climate conclusions.
"Lessons & Limits of Climate History: Was the 20th Century Climate Unusual?" was published by the George Marshall Institute. Jeff Nesmith of Cox News Service, revealed that the study was funded by the American Petroleum Institute. Senator Inhofe of course loved the report!
Soon went on to coauthor another denial classic, Polar Bears Are Doing Just Fine, reviewed by ExxonSecrets back in 2007.
This polar bear paper is key because, old Willie proudly admits both Exxon and American Petroleum Institute funding to support the research. However, Exxon didn't report this funding in its Worldwide Giving Report or to the IRS...they never said a word about it...
After an October 17th 2007 House Science Committee hearing entitled, Disappearing Polar Bears and Permafrost: Is a Global Warming Tipping Point Embedded in the Ice?, Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina penned a letter to Exxon demanding answers. He wrote, “Exxon has the right to fund any research or publications it wishes. However, the Congress and the public have the right to know why ExxonMobil is funding a scientist whose writing is outside his area of expertise to create the impression that expert scientists have conducted rigorous, peer-reviewed work that says the problems with polar bears are unproven or unserious.”
As far as we know Rep. Miller never got answers.
By now, Willie Nilly has emerged from Sally Bali's shadow to become one of the go-to skeptics, appearing as a key speaker at the two recent Heartland Institute's Denial-Paloozas in New York. Soon is again a featured panelist at next week's 3rd Heartland Institute Denial-Palooza (wait, didnt they just have the 2nd one about 2 months ago?) Senator Inhofe and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will join the shrinking but noisy denial crew in DC on June 2nd.The Exxon AGM season is like Christmas for us at ExxonSecrets and this year Santa treated us right. Now, Rex Tillerson, what exactly have you been paying Soon and Baliunas to do and for how long? Clearly it didn't start in 2008. Answers please.....we're waiting...
Greenpeace said the oil giant had a lot to gain by dropping its promise to be green.It's no surprise really, BP has been investing in dirty tar sands and cutting investments in renewables for a long time. Let's just hope that with the new CEO comes a new advertising policy, one that doesn't include spending a fortune on greenwash.
Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace's senior climate change adviser, suggested that the pledge was the only thing holding it back from making further cuts to its green credentials.
"Now that BP is blissfully released from its pledge to invest in clean energy, it has a carte blanche to sell off its unprofitable green energy arm," he told the BBC.
"It can get back to doing what it does best: being a 100% fossil fuels train wreck," Mr Kronick added.
"This is classic smoke and mirrors."
In response to the 60 Minutes report about contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, Chevron apparently hired its own reporter to create its own version of the report. According to the New York Times:
Both videos start with a correspondent appearing on camera and calling it a “bitter” dispute. But from there, they diverge. The “60 Minutes” report visits the rain forest, talks to the Ecuadorean judge and interviews a Chevron manager. The Chevron video interviews the same Chevron manager, as well as five professors who are consultants to the oil company, but none of the plaintiffs.
The Chevron video never directly claims to be journalism. But a casual viewer could be swayed by the description — “Gene Randall reporting” — and the journalistic devices used, including file footage of the rain forest and over-the-shoulder interviews with experts. Chevron declined to answer questions about the video.
Chevron also bought Google ads so that its own website about the lawsuit, which includes the video, appear as the top link when anyone googles "Chevron in Ecuador".
It's unclear how much Chevron spent on the video and website, but it seems that money would have been better spent actually cleaning up oil wells in Ecuador. Surely that would have done more to improve Chevron's image than this bit of greenwash.
We've mentioned in previous posts Chevron's pending legal battle in Ecuador. Well, last Sunday 60 minutes did its own expose on the lawsuit and Chevron's legacy of toxic waste pits that continue to pollute communities in the Amazon.
The people who live in a remote region of Ecuador are suing Chevron, saying reckless oil exploration poisoned the most important rain forest on earth. Soon, a judge in a tiny Ecuadorian courtroom will decide whether the oil company must pay as much as $27 billion in damages. That would make it the largest environmental lawsuit in history. Most everything is in dispute in this bitter struggle except one thing: powering American cars with Amazon crude has left a toxic legacy.
Acording to 60 Minutes, over 23 years, Texaco (now owned by Chevron) pumped out one and a half billion barrels of oil from the Amazon. Hundreds of wells were drilled, and at each site, pits were dug to hold toxic oil waste that comes up during drilling. Generally two or three pits were carved out near the well site. Trouble is, when Texaco finished its drilling, the waste pits were abandoned by the hundreds and for decades. Communities have counted over 900 abandoned toxic wells in the region. One pit 60 Minutes saw has been there for 25 years and was actually designed to overflow into streams.
This new post in GreenCarReports.com nicely summarizes the issue we've taken with GM's "Gas-Friendly to Gas-Free" campaign. It's nice to see that others aren't fooled by the greenwash either:
The trouble with the "more 30-MPG-highway cars than anyone else" claim, though, is that many of those cars are simply different nameplates on the same basic vehicle.
With Obama's auto-industry oversight board insisting that superfluous brands--like Saturn and Pontiac--be axed, those badge-engineered models will all go away. In fact, of the 20 vehicles GM touts with highway mileage of 30 mpg or higher, more than half (12 of them) are doomed.
But we think it's kind of a dumb marketing claim anyway. It doesn't matter how many models you have over 30 mpg; it's how many you actually, you know, sell. With reports of Pontiac G3 and G5 models piling up on dealer lots, plus plummeting Saturn sales, we fear GM isn't doing so well there.
Dan Weiss of the Center for American Progress looked into this and reported that:
" Duke Energy is not alone. It is a member of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity—a front group of 48 big coal, utility, and other companies—which has already spent gobs of money on advertising, but invested little in the development of CCS technology. Like Duke, ACCCE’s other member companies are much more committed to the idea of clean coal than investing to make it a reality—as their research budgets demonstrate. An analysis of their investments found that they spent less than two cents in research on “clean coal” for every $1 of profit. And even though new legislation would fund technology to make clean coal a reality, ACCCE has yet to show any support for it."
Weiss' analysis of current CCS projects does list Duke as a participant in three CCS research projects, however Rogers comments would lead us to believe that this participation is minimal.
The legislation referenced by Wiess is the "America Clean Energy and Security Act" sponsored by Reps Henry Waxman Ed Markey which offers huge subsidies to CCS research and development. Sounds to me like Rogers and ACCCE are waiting on the government to invest taxpayer dollars before they will shell out any green.
So what are Duke and other ACCCE members willing to spend their money on? ACCCE has a communications budget for 2009 of $40 million. Right, and lets not forget the $9.9 million spent last year on lobbyists. Oh- and the combined $15.6 million spent by ACCCE member firms to federal campaigns.
So the question that remains unanswered is, if Jim Rogers won't invest in CCS why should the US taxpayers?
Used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.