In the Black
Ah, but uneasy rests the crown. The public -- still stung by Enron and now feeling pinched at the pump -- has taken notice of the company's windfall. So, too, has Congress, with some legislators now clamoring for new taxes on oil earnings or at least pushing to end subsidies.
That's not all. At the same time, ExxonMobil is in the news for another reason: The company is back in court, still refusing to pay punitive damages stemming from the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. In this Bleak House saga, thousands of plaintiffs have literally died waiting for recompense. Exxon swears it's a good corporate citizen (primarily because it makes a fat profit for shareholders), but Alaskans, by and large, see it differently.
If Exxon really wanted good PR, it could take some of its newfound profit and turn it to the good; for starters, by settling up accounts in Prince William Sound. Even more importantly, it could show some foresight by investing in energy alternatives like wind and solar before the petroleum gravy train runs dry and its days in the black are over. The timing for such a shift could be good, as the company has a new CEO -- a man with the appropriately magestic- and Texan-sounding name of Rex Tillerson. You can help us by sending Mr. Tillerson a message here.
Do it before they toast the earth.