Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Are Oil Companies Out To Destroy Our Environment?

Known for their corporate bullyism in keeping the renewable energy business model stillborn for the past 40 years or so, are crude oil companies really out to destroy our environment?

By: Ringo Bones

Since the disastrous crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in April 20, 2010 became headline news, crude oil companies has recently spent millions of dollars in advertisement and political spin on how caring they are of our environment and on how they spent millions in search of alternative and renewable eco-friendly sources of energy. Sadly, those millions might have been put to better use in preventing tragic spills – like April’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill from ever happening in the first place.

Exxon Mobil is the main supporter of climate change and global warming denial groups like the Competitive Enterprise Group and the Heartland Group. Exxon Mobil is also not investing enough of its profits into renewable energy research. Even though it is true that major oil companies do spend millions of their own money into renewable energy research. On average, major – make that big – oil companies invest on average 0.01% of their annual profits into renewable / alternative energy research.

Big oil companies’ number one –and oft quoted – excuse for not investing in renewable energy research: “Renewable energy still has to reach a point of economic viability. Thus making everybody ask – if you don’t invest in renewable energy, how can it ever become economically viable? Do these companies exist just to make money for their shareholders with utter disregard to the negative social impact of their company’s profit-making schemes?

Corn ethanol was pushed by the Corn Lobby on Capitol Hill as a response to the OPEC Oil Embargo shock of 1974. With billions of dollars in US government subsidies – courtesy of the American taxpayer and millions more spent in aggressive promotion / ads on TV, is corn-sourced ethanol truly green?

Corn-sourced ethanol may even increase the overall amount of carbon dioxide dumped into our atmosphere given how corn is grown in the US – i.e. extensive use of chemical fertilizers and energy intensive irrigation, etc. Worse still, less than 1% of US gas stations offer E85 ethanol. Given that the corn and oil lobby in the US tend to put profit first at the expense of us at the bottom of the corporate food chain, will a crude oil company product boycott be the answer?

Back in 1995, the environmental group Greenpeace managed to organize a boycott of Shell’s petrochemical products because back then the petrochemical company plans to sink its own decommissioned offshore oil rig platform into the North Atlantic. The Greenpeace organized protest action nearly brought Shell to its knees. Could Greenpeace organize another crude oil company boycott these days to make oil companies take better care of our environment?

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