Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conserving a Private Empire


Steve Coll’s recent book about Exxon Mobil, “Private Empire,” exemplifies the lobbying might of big oil. As so sadly how we may be robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The company’s profits were $21.3 billion first half of last year shows how money talks in DC.  


Such a special interest hires some 20 additional former senators, representatives, legislative aides and others to influence decisions. When a corporation operates in over 200 nations how do you separate it from our own foreign policy? This firm would rank among the top 30 countries if revenue were counted as gross domestic product

Americans’ belief in climate change also was reframed as a hoax by Exxon Mobil executives. This book documents the undemocratic power of wealth determining our future carbon economy.  Also how our environmental leaders are sleep at the wheel.

ExxonMobil used the argument of lessening poverty in the third world instead of addressing global climate change as the most pressing environmental problems.  Years ago, the ExxonMobil chief said in Beijing. “Addressing these problems will require economic growth, and that will necessitate increasing, not curtailing, the use of fossil fuels.” Coll portrays how in a speech to the Chinese Communist government they show its self-interest at being on top when it comes to annual profits and revenue.

While this Irving, Texas-based oil giant is the one of the most secretive major public corporations in the world, Coll uncovers evidence how ExxonMobil’s dangerously risks with the future of world’s natural resources so to individually profit.

More strike in this book shows how major environmental leaders (e.g. Carol Browner gave no consideration to such an alternative) ignored the opportunity of adopting a favored carbon tax instead for a “cap” and “trade” scheme that was poorly devised.  ExxonMobil cites that cap-and-trade would create a bureaucracy bigger than the IRS.  Here the number one corporation was not brought into some consensus-building compromise on this vital policy.  It is sad the so called “environmental” lobby was out to lunch. 

Also this book tells how former CEO Lee Raymond’s was rewarded with a retirement package of just under $400 million as well as other lucrative packages given to senior managers and executives.

Interesting is how the current CEO  Rex Tillerson revises this company’s position on climate change with showing maybe there is a link between greenhouse gas emissions and raising temperatures when he said, “We know our climate is changing, the average temperature of the earth is rising, and the greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.”  ExxonMobil has done a massive multi-million dollar ad campaign to recruit children to learn science. While ironically this firm has spent similar amount in opposing the findings from 97% of climate scientists about global warming.

Finally Rex Tillerman second assignment as Exxon engineer was working on a drilling technique  recently the rage of Wall Street called hydraulic fracturing or ”fracking”.   Presently, we have an inexpensive, unregulated way to get gas with little understanding of its environmental risks thanks to big oil’s influence.

Gasoline expenses where as little as 2 percent of the American pretax household income in the late 90’s while last summer this has approached 10 percent of household income.   While changing gasoline pricing with impose heavy costs on working- and middle-class homes such apparent economic pains must be balanced with environmental costs if we do not create some type of long term safeguards for our planet.  Who is minding the store?

Interestingly, Standard & Poor’s gave ExxonMobil AAA mark superior to the United States AA meaning our ability to repay lenders is in question.  The greater question who is going to repay future generation’s environmental debt since big oil is quickly cashing in now on what we humans will have to pay latter. 

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