Given that global warming pollution has officially fallen from the agenda of the Senate, legislative proposals on the table to reduce the political, economic, and environmental impact of the oil industry provide an opportunity for Congress to slightly vindicate itself. On Friday the House passed legislation that finally removes special protections that oil companies have received for decades, such as limitation on liability for the damage caused by oil spills, exemptions from environmental review, and the ability to avoid US safety standards altogether. In light of the BP oil disaster, passage of these policies should be a forgone conclusion.
The Senate is expected to vote soon, maybe tomorrow, on it’s own package of policies in response to the Gulf disaster. The House passed the bill 209 to 193. With an astounding 30 Reps not voting, including 21 GOP, it is possibly a good sign for the Senate vote this week, as it may mean many conservative Representatives felt it politically impossible to vote no.
At the same time, it was not a disappointment, but a relief, that the Senate Majority Leader concluded the Senate should take a break from proposals to cap global warming pollution. It is shocking that this announcement to end the effort to solve the world's most dire and pressing problem comes with five months left in 2010. However, the Senate level of ambition to pass effective climate policy has waned from weak to damaging. With the gluts of industry giveaways, the latest bill drafts proposing a carbon cap exemplify that the legislative effort is carjacked by polluting industry lobbyists. If they have truly stopped trying for now, Congress must not think that they can simply pick up where they left off, because they are nowhere near producing legislation to overhaul America's economy to become modern, competitive, and sustainable.
This election season, members of Congress owe it to their children's future to use their campaigns to build momentum for energy policy that keeps the planet livable. What this Congress will have failed to produce is a set of policies that contains three broad elements that dissipated from legislative proposals in the Senate.
First, Congress must campaign for slashing global warming pollution in a manner that is fast and furious. We need to do whatever it takes. This is not about balancing the required efforts and bail outs of polluting industry. It is about taking deadly serious the pollution that made 2010 the hottest year on record. It is about stopping perverse subsidies that provide seven times more public funding for coal, oil, and gas than for renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.
Second, Congress must campaign for significant financial assistance to help poor countries adapt to the devastating climate changes occurring already, and to develop cleanly, so that our efforts at home to protect the planet are not in vain. International climate financing is part of a fair and reasonable commitment from the United States, a wealthy country with the greatest historical share of global warming pollution, and is vitally necessary for achieving an effective global climate change agreement.
Third, Congress must campaign to protect and encourage the use of all existing tools for reducing global warming pollution, which includes laws they passed decades ago like the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act is the reason why the administration can now require long-overdue pollution abatement technologies for the nation's dirtiest smokestacks, and why efficiency standards for America's cars will not be pitifully behind requirements in China. Members of Congress who are serious about stopping climate catastrophe will provide encouragement and support for other public officials, such as in state legislatures, the EPA, and the White House, to act quickly on this global emergency.
ExxonMobil gave approximately $1.3 million to climate denial organizations last year.
This has been reported by The Times (London) after being provided information by the Greenpeace Research Department. (The Times is unfortunately a subscription-only paper online, but a version of the story can be found syndicated at The Australian).
Greenpeace tabulated this figure - as we have done every year - from Exxon’s annual corporate Worldwide Giving Report. This year's Giving Report was way late on arrival, only published online in late June rather than the customary delivery in May before Exxon's annual general shareholders meeting. Download pdf of Worldwide Giving Report here
The Times concluded that Exxon had broken its pledges dating back to 2005 to stop payments to climate change deniers. After significant pressure from numerous bodies including ExxonSecrets, the Royal Society of London and Senators Snowe and Rockefeller, Exxon admitted its campaign of diversion.
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008, the oil giant stated,
“In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner.”
And indeed, over the past four years, Exxon has reduced its grants to prominent climate change deniers from the peak spending in 2005 of over $3.5M. Greenpeace’s research shows a $2.2 million reduction in annual funding to these organizations, down to roughly $1.3 million in 2009. The number of groups known to be funded has dropped from 51 to 24 between 2005 and 2009.
So they are down to about half the organizations and about one third of the funding. But is that good enough? Does this mean Exxon gets credit for finally ditching the deniers?
In 2009, Exxon was still giving significant contributions to organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Annapolis Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Harvard- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Washington Legal Foundation, each of which has a long history of climate change denial. (see complete list of 2009 funding below).
Exxon has told The Times that it is no longer funding Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute and the Media Research Center, the former nest of Marc Morano (ex- Sen. Inhofe staffer and now CFACT blogger).
The 2009 funding to these groups was:
- $100,000 to Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- $75,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
- $50,000 to the Media Research Center
Exxon drops denial groups, but picks up denier scientists instead
Importantly, during the same period where Exxon bent to the pressure on its campaign of denial and cut all funding to hard core deniers like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and others...
Exxon began funding (at least publicly) the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in 2005.
The 2009 ExxonMobil funding to SAO was $ 76,106, for a grand and odd total of $417,212 since 2005. SAO is the home of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas, two scientists who have worked both together and as individuals on publishing junk science for nearly two decades. Both have been heavily involved with many of the groups running denier campaigns today.
For example, Soon and Baliunas’ article “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years,” concluded (incorrectly) that the warming of the globe experienced today is not at all unique and that the twentieth century is not the warmest on record, contradicting well established science. This paper was partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute. The flawed peer review process that led to its publication caused several editors at Climate Research (where it was published) to resign.
In 2007, just ahead of a crucial decision by the US Federal Government about whether to list polar bears as "endangered" from climate change, Soon was funded by ExxonMobil for his work in a paper that argued that polar bears were not under threat (because climate change wasn't happening). Soon is an expert in astrophysics, not polar bears, but Exxon saw fit to fund this work.
Baliunas has individually authored a 1994 report entitled “The Ozone Crisis,” claiming that science denies CFC’s affect on the ozone. She has been a resident expert at the George C Marshall Institute for years, alongside other serial deniers such as S Fred Singer.
So much more is detailed in our "Dealing in Doubt" report. It is a campaign of denial that goes back some 20 years. It continues to this day as the stakes get higher and higher. 2010, so far, has set global records for high temperatures. Corporate and private funders of the organizations who continue to deal in misinformation about climate science and climate policy will someday be held accountable for their destructive actions.
24 organizations in ExxonSecrets database were funded in 2009:
- AEI American Enterprise Institute $235,000
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation $100,000
- National Taxpayers Union Foundation $80,000
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory $76,106
- Annapolis Center $75,000
- Communications Institute $75,000
- National Black Chamber of Commerce $75,000
- Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy $75,000
- Heritage Foundation $50,000
- Manhattan Institute $50,000
- Media Research Center $50,000
- ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council $47,500
- Mercatus Center, George Mason University $40,000
- Washington Legal Foundation $40,000
- Center for American and International Law $33,50
- Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $30,000
- American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research $25,000
- American Spectator Foundation $25,000
- National Association of Neighborhoods $25,000
- Texas Public Policy Foundation $20,000
- Federalist Society $15,000
- Pacific Legal Foundation $15,000
- Landmark Legal Foundation $10,000
- Mountain States Legal Foundation $10,000
CEOs for some of the world's largest coal companies testified before the House Select Comittee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on April 14th, and it was quite a show.
There was plenty of predictable hype and misniformation about Carbon Capture and Sequestration, as the coal CEOs demanded more taxpayer dollars to pursue the myth of "clean coal" while ignoring all the reasons why CCS is a dangerous distraction from real clean energy solutions.
The real action came when youth activists confronted the coal CEOs with lumps of coal and blackened hands to show everyone in the hearing room that despite the industry's lobbying and propaganda, young people know that coal is dirty, and has no role in our clean energy future.
I hope that the efforts of the youth activists to challenge the coal CEOs with their dangerous and dirty fuel reminded the policymakers in the room and beyond who is behind the efforts to block solutions to climate change, and that young people will not sit quietly while our future is treated as though it were just another bargaining chip between polluter lobbyists and Congress.
The action was also captured by CNN:
Another interesting part of the hearing came when Chairman Ed Markey asked Gregory Boyce, the CEO of Peabody Coal, about his company's efforts to block the EPA's ability to protect the public's health and safety by cutting global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. Congressman Markey pointed out that Peabody Coal explicitly states in their petition,
"Peabody’s petition is based primarily on the release of email and other information from the University of East Anglia (“UEA”) Climatic Research Unit (“CRU”) in November of last year."
Chairman Markey then asked the coal CEOs if their companies will now back away from their efforts to block the EPA's endangerment finding since the British House of Commons cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing.Of course, the responses from the coal CEOS just reinforced that the efforts of polluting industries to undermine the Clean Air Act is really about protecting their profits at the expense of the planet and public health, and they will continue to use fake scandals to push their polluter agenda.
UPDATE: check out the video of the action and some selections form the hearing
And the video is also getting attention on Capitol Hill, as Anne Mulkerne reports in her NYTimes/Greenwire article:
Sen. Murkowski, Greenpeace Exchange Barbs Over EPA Regulations
Greenpeace and Sen. Lisa Murkowski's office are in a battle of words over her effort to block U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
An aide to the Alaska Republican condemned Greenpeace yesterday after PolluterWatch, a project of the environmental group, launched a Web site called PolluterHarmony.com, a take-off on the matchmaking site eHarmony.com.
"If she objects to the scrutiny her conduct has received, she should consider putting her constituents ahead of Washington lobbyists," Davies said. "Until then, we will continue to hold her accountable for her close ties to influence peddlers like Jeffrey Holmstead."
News reports earlier this year revealed that Holmstead, an industry lawyer who served in the George W. Bush administration, advised Murkowski's office on a failed amendment last year to block EPA regulations. Environmentalists have pointed to Holmstead's involvement as a signal that Murkowski is working on behalf of industry interests, but the Alaska senator has said her staff consulted a variety of outside experts, including environmentalists and Republican and Democratic lawmakers, when drafting that amendment.It's great that more public officials and lobbyists for coal and oil companies might now get a chance to learn about Polluterharmony, so they too might find a match made in Washington. Happy Valentines Weekend!
According to an internal memo leaked in August, Gerard directed API’s nearly 400 member companies to mobilize their employees to attend “Energy Citizen” rallies in 20 states to protest a cap on carbon pollution. To ensure the success of the fake grass-roots protests, Gerard bragged that he had also enlisted a bevy of polluting allies — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. “Please treat this information as sensitive,” Gerard cautioned in the memo. “We don’t want critics to know our game plan.”Greenpeace has been taking on the American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil’s top lobbying group, and other powerful corporate interests with a vested interest in keeping America addicted to fossil fuels for years. After we exposed API’s astroturf campaign to fake “grassroots” opposition to climate legislation, we’ve kept up the pressure as the lobby group paid Newsweek to host an energy forum with lawmakers inside the Capitol Building. On his way out, we confronted Gerard, demanding to know how much he paid for access to the halls of power:
And no list of polluter lobbyists would be complete without the US Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Donohue. From the Rolling Stone article:
As the de facto chief of American business and industry, Donohue has turned the biggest lobbying presence on Capitol Hill into the biggest friend of climate polluters. In the first nine months of last year, the Chamber spent $65 million — three times more than ExxonMobil — mounting a campaign to block Congress from placing limits on carbon pollution.Under Donohue’s leadership, and at the behest of a few coal company CEOs on its board of directors like Massey Coal’s Don Blankenship (yep, also on the list), the US Chamber’s campaign against global warming solutions has led major companies like Apple to quit the industry group. And when the US Chamber toured the country this past summer, Donohue’s CEO agenda was confronted with protests again and again.
Anne Mulkern wrote an interesting article in today's New York Times/Greenwire about Big Oil's efforts to greenwash their dirty image with misleading advertisements. As the article details, giant oil companies like BP, Shell, Exxonmobil, and their industry trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, are spending millions to convince Americans and policymakers that they are investing in clean energy, even though in reality, "...for all three companies, the alternative energy investments still are a small part of their overall business. BP, for example, puts $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion a year into alternative energy projects. That's about 1 percent of the company's total $20 billion investment this year in future business prospects."
Last week, we looked at some of Shell's ads, some of which were so misleading that they were forced to stop using them in the UK.
In Mulkern's article, Chevron attempts to explain their PR push:
Chevron's ads are aimed at getting people to think about conservation while also expanding their view of the company, said Helen Clark, Chevron's manager of corporate marketing.
"Oil and gas is a majority of our business, but there's a lot else we do that's important," Clark said.
"We want people to see past the rhetoric and past the view of 'Big Oil,'" she added. "We want to make sure it's showing all sides of the corporation."
All sides of the corporation? OK, let's check out some sides that you might not hear about on a giant billboard or full page ad in the Washington Post. How about the side that's been accused of extortion on Capitol Hill for their lobbying efforts to avoid responsibility for dumping billions of gallons of toxic wastewater in the Amazon? Or the side that just settled a lawsuit requiring them to cough up millions of dollars for unpaid lease royalties to state, federal and American Indian governments?
No amount of focus group-tested advertising is going to fool the people living nearby Chevron's massive polluting refinery in San Ramon, California, hundreds of whom marched on the facility this summer:
But maybe that's not the point. As marketing expert Bob Kenney points out in Mulkern's article, it's important to look at just who Big Oil is trying to fool:
Many of the ads have run in Washington, D.C. Those are less about reaching customers and more about reaching Congress,
"It's concerned with contributing information in the public debate at a governmental level," Kenney said. "It may look like a public campaign sometimes, but sometimes it's not."
As Big Oil pollutes local communities from the Bay Area to the Amazon, their massive PR and lobbying efforts pollute the understanding of what they are doing to this planet, and they're especially focused on policymakers here in Washington DC. You can find Chevron's ads all over our nation's capitol, at bus stops, on the sides of buildings and in the newspapers and magazines read by our legislators and their staff.
In fact, there's a Chevron banner ad right on Mulkern's article itself, inviting us to "Join the Discussion" about the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen:
As the US Senate takes up energy and climate legislation, we'll be watching what kind of "discussion" polluter lobbyists are really interested in.
A new Guardian arcticle today confirms what we wrote back in may: Exxon is still secretly funding global warming junk scientists.
According to the Guardian report:
Records show ExxonMobil gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to lobby groups that have published 'misleading and inaccurate information' about climate change. These include the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas, which received $75,000 (£45,500), and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, which received $50,000.
According to Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, both the NCPA and the Heritage Foundation have published "misleading and inaccurate information about climate change."
On its website, the NCPA says: "NCPA scholars believe that while the causes and consequences of the earth's current warming trend is [sic] still unknown, the cost of actions to substantially reduce CO2 emissions would be quite high and result in economic decline, accelerated environmental destruction, and do little or nothing to prevent global warming regardless of its cause."
The Heritage Foundation published a "web memo" in December that said: "Growing scientific evidence casts doubt on whether global warming constitutes a threat, including the fact that 2008 is about to go into the books as a cooler year than 2007". Scientists, including those at the UK Met Office say that the apparent cooling is down to natural changes and does not alter the long-term warming trend.
Ward said, "ExxonMobil has been briefing journalists for three years that they were going to stop funding these groups. The reality is that they are still doing it. If the world's largest oil company wants to fund climate change denial then it should be upfront about it, and not tell people it has stopped."
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...
ExxonSecrets is hanging here in the Big Apple with DeSmogBlog, as the Heartland Institute, flush with cash from anonymous planet hating foundations and corporations, is putting on the second annual global warming Denial-Palooza.
The Guardian led with a description of the keynote address by Czech president, Václav Klaus, whose country holds the important rotating presidency of the EU. Klaus' alarmist message to the cheering denier throng was that European nations plans for climate solutions hide a nefarious plot to ruin human society... "They probably do not want to reveal their true plans and ambitions to stop economic development and return mankind several centuries back"
How's that for optimism and hope in troubled times? Yo Vaccie, chillax and enjoy the Energy Revolution.
The New York Times panned the conference in Monday's paper, documenting several cases of peer to peer disagreement on how to best deny global warming - MIT's Richard Lindzen slamming the sun-spot people and Fred Singer correcting fellow skeptics understanding of physics. ExxonSecrets loves it when the skeptics eat their young.
But the best salvo of the Times article was a recitation of last year's Exxon Corporate Citizenship report blockbuster sentence by ExxonMobil spokes Alan T. Jeffers, who wrote the Times in an e-mail, saying that the company had ended support “to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion about how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Ending Exxon's diversion campaign being the primary goal of ExxonSecrets, seeing these immortal words from last May in the NY Times warmed our hearts....
Heartland, the free-marketeers, went on...attacking corporations who now express some consciousness of the threat of global warming: "Joseph L. Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, said Exxon and other companies were just shifting their stance to improve their image. The Heartland meeting, he said, was the last bastion of intellectual honesty on the climate issue." Last bastion of antireglatory extremists more like.
“Major corporations are painting themselves green around global warming,” Mr. Bast said, adding that the companies have shifted their lobbying and public relations efforts toward trying to shape climate legislation in their favor."
Well they have a point there, we have noticed a spike in climate greenwashing. Maybe Heartland wants to join our StopGreenwash campaign?
Despite Exxon unceremoniously kicking them to the curb in 2007, Heartland seems to have raised a lot of money bashing Al Gore over the last few years. In a promo brochure handed out at the conference, the Heartland Institute's funding looks like the much maligned Michael Mann hockey stick graph. Their funding more than doubled from 2005-2007 rising from $2.5 million to $5.2 million after hovering at less than $2 million from 1999-2003.
Today, Guardian writer Ed Pilkington took a fresh swat at Governor Sarah Palin's use and defense of Exxon-funded junk science on polar bears in the State of Alaska's attempts to to kill the listing of the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.
Much has been made of Palin's denial of global warming since she was nominated as the GOP Veep candidate, but no one has questioned her credibility for using 'research' that was funded by ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute and Charles Koch Foundation.
We are wondering if Gwen Ifill of PBS will ask Ms. Palin a pointed question tomorrow? or if Senator Biden has read the Guardian story?
This classic ExxonSecrets map of the junk science authors from the Dyck, Soon, et al article shows once again the tentacles of the Denial Machine (see page 9 for acknowledgement of funding from Exxon and friends). Palin's goon squad cited the Dyck, Soon paper 6 times and even attached a copy of the article (pre-publication) to their 49 page submission to the Department of Interior.
All the background documents can be found on Greenpeace Investigations:
- Exxon funded junk science
- rebuttal by real polar bear scientists
- Alaska's submissions to Department of Interior
No reporters have questioned Exxon or API about funding this research and no one has gotten the scientists themselves on the record as to how much money they got from Exxon and friends and the marching orders attached to that funding.
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