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.
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!