Viridian Note 447 - Exxon Greenwash  

Posted by Big Gav

Having declared Bruce Sterling week here at Peak Energy Down Under, as well as repeatedly discussing a lot of the subject matter, I thought his latest Viridian Note was relevant enough to quote in its entirety (I would link to it, but he's a few weeks behind with updating the web site).

Key concepts: Exxon-Mobil, Lee Raymond, American Petroleum Institute, Bush Administration, climate change, Philip Cooney

Attention Conservation Notice: Rehashes Exxon-Mobil's machinations at quite some length, but it's nice to have the details.

Links:

Those who think that GE, Shell and BP have been greenwashing need to witness the true masters of disinformation at work in this loathsome act of self-serving Exxon-Mobil PR.

USA Today denounces the flat-earth brigade.

Thomas "Geo-Green" Friedman thinks that General Motorsis likely doomed. Sounds pretty plausible.

Unless, that is, General Motors somehow succeeds in selling Londoners a whole bunch of "Chelsea Tractors".

Unafraid of public-private scandal? Hey, just buy everything, Boss Tweed style!

Tom DeLay's got fifty grand in Exxon-Mobil stock.

As the World Burns.

Source: Guardian newspaper

"Revealed: how oil giant influenced Bush

"White House sought advice from Exxon on Kyoto stance

by John Vidal, environment editor
Wednesday June 08 2005
The Guardian

"President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian. (((I can't understand why British journos somehow imagine that the Bush cadre, which is made up of American oil people, needs lots of pushing from Exxon. The Administration is a petrocracy. It'll do anything and everything for oil == or rather, for its own weird ideas about oil. Given how hard they've struggled for oil supplies, it's amazing how little we've gotten.)))

"The documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month's G8 meeting, reinforce widely-held suspicions of how close the company is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate
US policy. (((I also find it curious that the British press thinks that Tony Blair has more clout inside the Beltway than Exxon-Mobil does.)))

"In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, (((Paula, a longtime Viridian bete noire))) between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's 'active involvement' in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.

"Other papers suggest that Ms Dobriansky should sound out Exxon executives and other anti-Kyoto business groups on potential alternatives to Kyoto.

"Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto.

(((Why does Exxon even bother with this charade? Exxon could proclaim in the streets that the Bush Administration is a wholly-owned Exxon subsidiary. Who would do anything about that? The Justice Department? The Congress? Come on.))) But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case. ((("Suggest"? Read on.)))

"'Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you and the Global Climate Coalition,' says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon. (((The GCC no longer exists, which is not too surprising as the Global Climate Coalition was an odious astroturf sock-puppet from the get-go. They're gone, but the briefing notes still remain!)))

"The papers further state that the White House considered Exxon 'among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches like Kyoto to cut greenhouse gas emissions'. ((("Among" the companies? Okay, as a matter of strict accuracy, there may be a coal company or two who are even more reprehensible than Exxon. But they're all so much smaller.)))

"But in evidence to the UK House of Lords science and technology committee in 2003, Exxon's head of public affairs, Nick Thomas, said: 'I think we can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States government or any other government
to take any sort of position over Kyoto.' (((Does Parliament plan to extradite this Exxon guy for perjury somehow? He's the head of their PR department! They should have counted the spoons before he left the dining hall in the House of Lords.)))

"Exxon, officially the US's most valuable company valued at $379bn (L163bn) earlier this year, is seen in the papers to share the White House's unwavering scepticism of international efforts to address climate change. (((It isn't 'skepticism,' it's deliberate, long-term obstructionism.)))

"The documents, which reflect unanimity between the company and the US administration on the need for more global warming science and the unacceptable costs of Kyoto, state that Exxon believes that joining Kyoto 'would be unjustifiably drastic and premature'.

"This line has been taken consistently by President Bush, and was expected to be continued in yesterday's talks with Tony Blair who has said that climate change is 'the most pressing issue facing mankind'. (((Well, then there you have it: America's Biggest Corporation Versus Mankind's Most Pressing Issue. Unfortunately for Exxon, the laws of physics are not subject to repeal. So it'll take a while, but Exxon-Mobil gonna get pressed to death. I wonder if, in the end, they'll simply fold their tents and scamper from the scene of the crime like the Global Climate Coalition, or try somehow to go down loudly fighting.)))

Link: It may be that they'll die of old age. Oil is an old guy's business nowadays, and the numbers of employees, especially in America, are dwindling.


"'President Bush tells Mr Blair he's concerned about climate change, but these documents reveal the alarming truth, that policy in this White House is being written by the world's most powerful oil company. This administration's climate policy is a menace to humanity,' said Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace's executive director in London last night.

(((It's so pleasant to hear sentiments like this in major news media. Exxon is becoming ever more blatant, arrogant and clumsy, transforming its temporary dominance over one American administration into a devastating future role as a vast global hate-object. Exxon will probably become the fall-guy for climate change. The downfall of mighty Exxon be enough to cause most other climate obscurantists to recant and/or flee. After that act of lustration we could get on with the hard work of climate restoration.)))

(...)

"ExxonMobil, which was yesterday contacted by the Guardian in the US but did not return calls, (((surprise))) is spending millions of pounds on an advertising campaign aimed at influencing politicians, opinion formers and business leaders in the UK and other pro-Kyoto countries in the weeks before the G8 meeting at Gleneagles." (((Why talk to reporters in the tiny 'news hole' when you can just
fill the paper with vaunting full-page ads? Mobil discovered that decades ago.)))

(((So, how did the Exxon-White House operation work, exactly?)))

Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/09/white_house_climate_report/

"White House sexed-down climate change reports

By Lucy Sherriff

Published Thursday 9th June 2005 10:36?GMT

"Official White House policy documents on climate change were altered by a former oil-industry lobbyist to play down the link between greenhouse gases and global warming, it emerged yesterday.

"Philip Cooney, the chief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality, altered several draft reports in 2002 and 2003, after they had been approved by government scientists, despite having no scientific background himself. Much of his editing made it into final versions of reports.

"Many of the changes were very simple. For instance, in one case he added the words 'significant and fundamental' before the word 'uncertainties.' In another, he added the word 'extremely' to the sentence: 'The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult.'

"Others were more blatant. According to the New York Times, Cooney deleted an entire paragraph dealing with the impact of global warming on glaciers and the polar ice cap from a 2002 report that discussed the effect global warming might have on flooding and water availability.

Cooney noted in the margins that the paragraph was 'straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.'

"In all cases, the amendments cast doubt on scientific results that are increasingly accepted as robust by the scientific community, and by the general populace.

(((Who's Philip Cooney? Well, he was instrumental in getting Exxon's favorite think-tank, Competitive Enterprise Institute, to sue the Bush Administration over global warming while he, Cooney, was in the Bush Administration.))

"Cooney is a lawyer by training, with a degree in economics. Before going to work at the White House, Cooney was the climate team leader at the American Petroleum Institute, a trade body that represents the oil industry's interests.

(((In case you are losing track of the multiple facades here:)))
Link: http://www.exxonsecrets.org

"The documents came to light via a non-profit organisation that provides legal assistance to government whistle blowers. The Government Accountability Project is representing Rick Piltz, formerly a senior associate in the office that issued the reports. Piltz resigned from his position in March.

Link:
http://www.whistleblower.org/template/index.cfm

"'Each administration has a policy position on climate change,' he wrote in a document reported by The New York Times. 'But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program.'

"White House officials deny that they are politicising science. (((I wonder why they still bother. Why not simply declare that science should be subservient to religion and politics? It sure works for Islam.)))

"At a press conference this week, President Bush told reporters he believed America is at the forefront of research into climate change. Asked whether he thought climate change was caused by man, he replied: 'I've always said it's a serious long-term issue that needs to be dealt with. My administration isn't waiting around to deal with it; we're acting. We want to know more about it. Easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it.' (((A blatantly oxymoronic utterance, but after so many,
who's counting?)))

"Meanwhile, academics from 11 countries, including the US and Britain, distributed an open letter saying: 'The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.' (((The academics are so over; from now on, it's all about frightened CEOs demanding the very same thing.)))

"UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has been in the US trying to persuade Bush to commit the US to reducing its greenhouse emissions. The president has called for voluntary measures, but has made no firm promises."

(((Here's the payoff == after Cooney scampered from the glare of the public limelight, Exxon simply hired him immediately. We're living in a true Gilded Age == except that Exxon's heaps of gilt are so thoroughly splattered with oil, blood and soot.)))

Source: New York Times

"Former Bush Aide Who Edited Reports Is Hired by Exxon

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Published: June 15, 2005

"Philip A. Cooney, the former White House staff member who repeatedly revised government scientific reports on global warming, will go to work for Exxon Mobil this fall, the oil company said yesterday.

RELATED: Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links toGlobal Warming (June 8, 2005) (((Nice of the New York Times web team to do the linking for us.)))

"Mr. Cooney resigned as chief of staff for President Bush's environmental policy council on Friday, two days after documents obtained by The New York Times revealed that he had edited the reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between the emission of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.

A former lawyer and lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobbying group for the oil industry, Mr. Cooney has no scientific training. The White House, which said on Friday that there was no connection between last week's disclosure and Mr. Cooney's resignation, repeated yesterday that his actions were part of the normal review process for documents on environmental issues involving many government agencies. (((Really? Wow! How convenient!)))

"'Phil Cooney did a great job,' said Dana Perino, a deputy spokeswoman for the White House, 'and we appreciate his public service and the work that he did, and we wish him well in the private sector.' (((In point of fact, the guy never left the private sector in the first place.)))

"An Exxon spokesman, Tom Cirigliano, declined to describe Mr. Cooney's new job. Mr. Cooney did not respond to e-mail or phone messages. (((I kinda hope that Phil is retiring to a Florida beach home that gets swiftly washed away.)))

"Exxon Mobil has long financed advertising and lobbying efforts that question whether warming caused by humans poses risks serious enough to justify curbing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by smokestacks and tailpipes.

"Mr. Cirigliano said yesterday that the company was committed to acting responsibly on the issue.

"'Exxon Mobil has taken, is taking and will continue to take tangible actions to reduce emissions in our operations, as well as in customer use of our products, and to better understand and prepare for the risks of climate change,' Mr. Cirigliano said. (((They are evil and belong in prison. And they're getting wilder and scarier as they themselves realize that this is true.)))

(((The British take on matters is pleasingly wry.)))

Source:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/oil/story/0,11319,1507555,00.html

"Bush's climate row aide joins oil giant

Jamie Wilson in Washington
Thursday June 16, 2005
The Guardian

"A senior White House official accused of doctoring government reports on climate change to play down the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming has taken a job with ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company.

"Philip Cooney, who resigned as chief of staff of the White House council on environment quality at the weekend, will begin work at the oil giant in the autumn. (((I wonder why the Bush Administration even HAS a "council on environment quality." It's not like the cadre around the Oval Office would pay any attention to a council's counselling.)))

"Politicians and environmental groups in Washington condemned the move yesterday. 'At a minimum it creates a terrible appearance,' said Henry Waxman, a Democratic Congressman who sits on the committee for government reform. 'This is one of the fastest revolving doors I have seen.' (((The secret? There's no door there.)))

"Kert Davies, the US research director for Greenpeace, said: 'The cynical way to look at this is that ExxonMobil has removed its sleeper cell from the White House and extracted him back to the mother ship.' (((I don't see why that's 'cynical.' It does
sound a tad science-fictional.)))

"It emerged last week that Mr Cooney, who has a law degree and no scientific training, watered down scientific papers on climate change and played up uncertainties in the scientific literature.

"He had previously worked for the American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group that was vocal in countering the virtual consensus by scientists that manmade emissions are warming the planet.

"A White House spokeswoman told the Associated Press his resignation was 'completely unrelated' to the disclosure in the New York Times two days earlier that he had made changes in several government climate change reports issued in 2002 and 2003. (((I guess it's also completely unrelated to Dr. Piltz, a whistleblower who sacrificed his
14-year government science career to expose this malefactor.)))

"'Mr Cooney had long been considering his options following four years of service to the administration,' she said.

"Bush administration policy on global warming has generally echoed that of the oil lobby, emphasising doubt over climate change science and focusing on the need for further research.

"An ExxonMobil spokesman said Mr Cooney had been hired before the doctoring stories broke." (((I don't doubt they promised Cooney that job four years ago. To abandon such a highly-placed agent in his time of woe would only discourage the others.)))

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
DID YOU SAY "COONEY" OR "CANUTE"?
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

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