Exxon Mobil Exxposed- Lobbying, the key to success?!

According to Pulitzer Prize -winning journalist Steve Coll, Exxon Mobil makes over  $ 450 billion a year which is equivalent to the size of Norway’s GDP and 3% of the U.S. GDP.

In his book Private Empire:Exxon Mobil and American Power  which was published this year in April, Steve Coll examines how Exxon Mobil uses money and influence to wield power in Washington D.C. but also in every other part of the world where this publicly traded company pumps or sells oil and gas.

He interviewed more than 450 people including lobbyists to throw light on Exxon Mobil’s lobbying activities and other issues since the oil giant has a continuously bad reputation on climate change.

Contributing Editor Brian Merchant from treehugger.com states:

Exxon spent more on lobbying the entire clean industry combined”

in 2009. $14.9 million– that’s the amount of money that the oil corporation shelled out for the climate change bill in just six months, 23% more than the $12.1 million the wind, solar and biofuel companies spent altogether.

What Exxon Mobil  annually spends on lobbying

In fact, Exxon Mobil’s public attitude towards climate change has changed since 2006 when Rex Tillerson became the new CEO replacing the combative Lee Raymond, former CEO of Exxon Mobil.

Oil companies now more often invest in biofuels to meet alternative-energy demands so Exxon reacted on that ,too ,seeking to improve their public image.

Bloomberg wrote:

Earlier this month, Exxon said it would seek to create a “new source of oil” in a $600 million project to make gasoline from algae.“

However, this seems a mere drop in the ocean. In 2009, Exxon Mobil spent $27.5 million for funding global warming sceptic groups. Lobby groups like the National Center for Policy Analysis(NCPA) in Dallas,Texas which received $75,000 or the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. which received $50,000 question the existence of global warming and thereby forward Exxon Mobil’s interests.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grentham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics argues that both the NCPA and the Heritage Foundation have released “misleading and inaccurate information” about climate change.

NCPA remarks on its website:

 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.“

Under Lee Raymond, Exxon Mobil donated $5.6 million to public policy organizations in 2002 that agreed with their agenda on climate change denial. These include:

  •   Acton Institute, ($30,000)
  •   American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research ($200,000)
  •   Atlas Economic Research Foundation ($50,000)
  •   Cato Institute ($30,000)
  •   Center for Strategic and International Studies ($145,000)
  •   Committee for Economic Development ($75,000)
  •   Competitive Enterprise Institute ($405,000)
  •   Foundation for American Communications ($175,000)
  •   Frontiers of Freedom ($233,000)
  •   George C. Marshall Foundation ($90,000)
  •   Reason Foundation ($50,000)

Rex Tillerson seemed to have softened Exxon Mobil’s tone when declaring:

Exxon will not contribute to some nine groups in 2008 that it funded in 2007…The groups Exxon has stopped funding include the Capital Research Center, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Frontiers of Freedom Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Institute for Energy Research,the Competitive Enterprise Institute…“

However, in the same year the Center for Science in the public interest revealed :

Each group continued to receive Exxon funding in 2007 after the company’s first announcement that it would discontinue the payments.“

The  so-called U.S. think-tank Competitive Enterprise Institution is one of the Weather Channel’s “2006 Hot List“ winners. This list focuses on people on organizations that most influenced climate policy,science and public opinion in the year 2006. In this particular year CEI told the U.S. public:

Carbon Dioxide. The call it pollution. We call it life.“

It seems weird that the Hot List considers CEI as an organization that influenced climate policy. Actually one would assume that  the idea of a Hot List is choosing organizations that influence the climate change issues in a postive way, but that is not the point.

The point is that CEI continued to receive money from Exxon Mobil, so why isn’t Exxon Mobil on this list?

This video shows Myron Ebell from CEI explaining why he thinks they received finacial support from Exxon Mobil.

Exxon Mobil doesn’t only fund climate sceptic groups but also the U.S. Government. During the Bush and Obama legislations Exxon Mobil allocated its PAC(political action committee) donations primarily to Republican legislators who were suppossed to assure that no damaging laws would go through. About $52 million were spend on lobbying during the first three years of Obama’s presidency. That’s 52 % more than during the Bush presidency.

Exxon Mobil can be considered as the financing arm of the Republicans although it pays for both Republican and Democratic candidates.

The bar chart below on the left indicates how much money Exxon Mobil gave to Democrats and Republicans from 1990 until now.

Here is short abstract of the bills lobbied by Exxon Mobil.

Even though, the numbers and lists seem overwhelming or alarming, Exxon Mobil is not an exception as far as lobbying is concerned. And even though Exxon Mobil claimed to stop lobbying, the end is not in sight.

What is your opinion on Exxon Mobil’s lobbying activities? Do you think they will reduce the number of think-tank groups and invest more money in alternative energies?

Mai will inform you about Exxon Mobil’s efforts to invest in alternative energies in great detail on Friday. So stay tuned!

This entry was posted in Business, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Exxon Mobil Exxposed- Lobbying, the key to success?!

  1. Pingback: This week on FastExposure « fastexposure

  2. Nicpic says:

    Hi Mirella,
    wow!! This is a great post, you truly managed to expose a part of Exxonmobil.
    I thought the idea to add two Xs to exposed was genius and I am amazed at how many different expert’s opinion you introduced! Your pictures and charts were very informative but did seem like you said a bit overwhelming.
    Nonetheless I really enjoyed the diversity you brought to the table! Not only did you use pictures, but also charts and a video!
    In addition your usage of bold fonts to emphasize certain sentences or words was in my eyes very well chosen!
    Even though I was prepared for being shocked I did not anticipate the extent to which Exxonmobil conducts lobbying activities! It is outrageous that they not only support global warming skeptics to further their own business, but also continue funding those organization even though they stated otherwise! Again great job! This post really got me thinking.
    If you’re really interested in lobbying I can only recommend a great movie I watched on the topic. It’s called “Thank you for not smoking” and although it deals with the tobacco industry instead of oil companies the underlying principle is the same. It’s simply incredible how big enterprises manage to manipulate and buy people, don’t you think?!

    Just a few hints on your post. It had a few mistakes in them, especially in the quotations (one was missing a “than” and in another one you used “the” instead of “they”). In addition the quote by Bloomberg repeated itself. This can be misleading to your readers. Why not send the text to one of your team members next time and ask them to proof read 🙂
    Lastly it would have been great if you had included some more links (to treehuggers.com and the Bloomberg article for example). Other than that very nice post!
    I’m looking forward to your next post!
    Cheers Nicky

    • mirkalilka says:

      Thanks for this positive feedback. I really appreciate your hints and I already edited my post and tried to consider what you wrote:) I know the movie that you recommended me, but I never watched it. Actually this could be quite interesting. I’m thinking about going deeper in the topic of lobbying and the movie is probably a good opportunity to compare Exxon’s lobbying activities with those of other companies or industries, maybe even the tobacco industry. It’s indeed really incredible to see how far companies go to win people for their ideas.

  3. lilmeu says:

    Hey Mirella,
    I really like your blogpost about the lobbying issue of ExxonMobile. It contains lots of visuals and diagrams which makes your article more interesting! I was really impressed by the video as well!
    With regard to the content of your blog post I also have to admit that I now understand the lobbying issue better. Although I did not heard anything about what lobbying actually is in general, I think that I finally get the point. I was somehow shoked by the quotation “Exxon spent more on lobbying the entire clean industry combined”. In general, I really like that your blog post consists of lots of quotations, too. This gives an interesting overview about the different opinions. I also love that you use the bold style to point out the most interesting terms! However, it would be nice, if you explain the bill abstract of the company more detailed because it´s hard to understand the first time.

  4. Pingback: How ExxonMobil influences the environment « fastexposure

  5. Pingback: ExxonMobil and the value of CSR « fastexposure

  6. Pingback: Why algae is not only used by sushi masters but also by Exxon Mobil « fastexposure

  7. katharinakueppers says:

    Hey Mirkalilka,
    I just love how diverse your post is!
    It doesn’t get boring, still has a lot of facts in it and is hence very informative.
    I feel like an expert about this topic now!
    But I think that some of these diagrams were just too much and contained too much data, it was difficult working my way through them.
    I think it was awesome that you even found a book about this topic, which shows that it definitely has some importance.
    Never the less I wish that you would have answered the question from your title… what do you think, was lobbying really the key to success for ExxonMobil?
    I would love to hear your opinion about that:)

  8. Pingback: Exxon Mobil exxposed – External influences « fastexposure

  9. Alycia Betit says:

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi, after reading this awesome piece of writing i am too glad to share my familiarity here with mates.

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