A few quotes paint ExxonMobil into a corner

The movie “Merchants of Doubt,” took a satirical and accurate look at the lengths the fossil fuel industry have gone to promote climate change denial. Last fall, the New York State Attorney General began an investigation of ExxonMobil regarding their purposeful misleading of shareholders and investors on the impact of climate change on their business. Lying to the public and customers is one thing, but lying to investors is a fraudulent crime.

In the recent issue of the Sierra Club magazine, the case against ExxonMobil is very compelling and follows some excellent investigative reporting by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News, a Pulitzer Prize winning new site. And, one more state Attorney General has added his state’s weight to the investigation.

Apparently, ExxonMobil was very prolific in investigating the impact of burning fossil fuels on the environment dating back to the 1970s. Yet, they shelved that work in the late 1990s, as it did not fit in with their  climate change denial charade, per the Sierra article called “Big Oil in the Hot Seat.” A few quotes from ExxonMobil internal meetings and external statements paint the picture as quoted from the Sierra article. Note Exxon is referenced below as it predates the merger of the two oil giants.

In a 1982 memo circulated to Exxon executives – “Exxon’s environmental affairs manager reported that addressing the greenhouse effect ‘would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion’ and that without the reductions ‘there are some potential catastrophic events that must be considered.’

At a 1991 conference, an ice researcher with Exxon’s Canadian division told a group of engineers “Greenhouse gases are increasing ‘due to the burning of fossil fuels. Nobody disputes that fact ‘

Yet, during a 1999 Exxon shareholders meeting, then CEO Lee Raymond “waved away climate science as ‘sheer speculation.’

It should be noted that ExxonMobil has been a leading funder of groups who are polarizing the debate over climate science.  Per Greenpeace USA, the company has contributed over $30 million to such groups between 1998 and 2014. These are the groups that were portrayed in the movie “Merchants of Doubt.”

It is ironic that this is how the tobacco industry was exposed after eight CEOs lied to a Congressional Committee in the 1990s that tobacco was not addictive, when internal memos dating back to the 1960s said it was. Pun-intended, the smoking gun was there in the files all the time. It should not be lost on anyone that the same PR people handled both the tobacco and fossil fuel industry’s disinformation campaigns.

This is serious stuff for ExxonMobil. If they misled shareholders, this is fraud. But, it is not just the investors who are harmed. Climate change is real and is man-influenced. We must now move to address these issues as we are behind the curve on this. Please consider the stances on climate change of each candidate. It is that crucial, as we can no longer tolerate denial and we cannot unwind progress in the move toward renewable energy. We cannot afford a President who does not recognize climate change for the danger it represents today and for our children.

29 thoughts on “A few quotes paint ExxonMobil into a corner

  1. Great post, Keith! Yes, for sure there is still a lot to do in every country in this world. But for sure one of the most ignorant places regarding renewable energy are the US. A president who even supports that attitude is poison to the whole world already only because of that!

    • Erika, if it is not entertainment, our attention span here in the US is limited. We do have some good things happening in renewable energy, California, if measured as a country, is the 7th most prolific one in solar energy, e.g., but too many don’t see the progress.

      The difficulty which this post attempts to address is what Mark Twain once said, “It is easier to fool someone, than to convince them they have been fooled.” Thanks for your wisdom and support. Keith

    • Robert, we both know we cannot wait for Superman. We need reasonable people to pay attention to what 97% of scientists are telling us. To me, having GOP led states suing to block the Clean Power Plan is poor stewardship and very shortsighted. Keep shouting from the rooftops. Keith

      • There is a positive note. There is a group called Conservatives for Clean Energy which advocates renewables, yet stops short of using the term climate change. But, at least they are talking about the solution. I did see a conservative voter survey that said 75% conservatives favor more renewable energy. As with other issues, the industry funded leaders tend to look past this. Yet, the key is to elevate the importance of this issue – only three of the five candidates note climate change is real and man-influenced. The two that don’t lead the pack in the GOP primary. Which means this is yet one more important reason not to vote for DT or TC.

  2. After the Exxon Valdiz dumped thousands of gallons of crude oil into Proudhon Bay (sp?) they cleaned up about a mile of the beach and sent in a camera crew to record the “fact” that they had cleaned up their mess — despite the fact that there were miles of beach out of the pictures that weren’t still filthy. It would appear this company is like so many other companies in spending their money on creating images for the public to mistake for the truth!

  3. They know our earth is dying and being used up. Like the water is disappearing, the one who controls the water will have the power like Exon has the oil power. Nothing matters to the 1% except money and more money.

  4. Well argued. And yet despite this truth we STILL hear climate change decriers, a friend just yesterday intelligent too, said we were heading for a natural cycle of colder weather and it’s all part of nature. I think NOT!

    • Candice, many thanks. You may want to ask your friend then why have 195 countries come together in Paris to do something about climate change and why does the World Economic Forum cite inaction on climate change one of the two greatest risks over the next ten years?

      Folks that speak with such certainty against man-influenced climate change need to defend their position as they are an outlier. We still need to move away from fossil fuels due their limitation, environmental degradation and water impact which is an equal concern.

      Thanks for your support. Keith

  5. Recently, an oil industry executive stated that in 2040, electric vehicles will still only represent 1% of the auto market. Funny… Tesla pre-introduced the Model 3 and now has almost 400,000 eager buyers (including my husband and me) willing to put down a $1000 reservation fee and wait the expected two years to get our hands on one. And, of course, other manufacturers are developing their own electric vehicles. I think the fossil fuel industry is in total denial and – by 2040, if not well before – will be left holding the barrel.

    • Janis, if you get a chance watch the recent episode of Vice on HBO which focuses on the Future of Energy. Dr. Steven Chu (former Secretary of Energy) said in the US, we should have 50% of our energy from renewables by 2050. Right now, we have three cities in the US which are completely powered by renewables and the country of Denmark is 100% powered by wind energy.

      The three main components of our energy picture long term are renewables, grid storage and nuclear (clean fusion not dangersous fission). They are successful on a small scale on the nuclear fusion, but right now they are not getting more power out of what they are putting in. Yet, there is a huge facility going up in France which is bigger than the models that exist in England and California. They are about ten years away.

      On the grid storage, Elon Musk (Tesla) has an industry in solar panels plus better battery storage. This second part is as exciting, as there are some homes that are off the grid, and it has the potential to put utility companies out of business as the battery storage improves. That is the future that should scare the pants off the oil industry executive. As for the cars, you are right on the electric car front. It will be far more than 1%. This train has left the station and we have passed the tipping point. Thanks for your comment, Keith

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