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In This Section
PDF September/October 2005
e-mail September 29, 2005
e-mail August 15, 2005
 

 

SEPTEMBER 2005
Democracy Breaks Out
Highlights from Sierra Summit
Taking Money from Criminals
   
  WHO WE ARE
John Swingle
Betsy Bennet
Larry Fahn
 
AUGUST 2005
Hot or Not?
Judgement Day at Hand for Arctic Refuge
Designing the 'Next Industrial Revolution'
Exxpose Exxon
What Would John Muir Drive?
Maybe This SUV?
Happy Birthday Alaska Wildlands
Big Box Boondoggle on the Ropes
Save the Great Bear Rainforest
 
  WHO WE ARE
Mark Johnston
Joni Bosh
Gordon Nipp
   
From the Editor: Paper to Pixels
ClubBeat
 
  JULY 2005
Protecting the Environment is Patriotic
Tilting At Windmills
The Ultimate Bad Hair Day
Meet the New Sierra Club President
Lucky Seven—One-on-One with Six Summit Speakers and One Delegate
From the Editor
Who We Are
ClubBeat
   
PDF July/August 2005
   
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Back Issues
   

The Planet

Exxpose Exxon

Coalition launches campaign against company that “exemplifies what’s wrong with our energy policy and energy politics”

by John Byrne Barry

On the day of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit, says Sierra Club organizer Leigh Fifelski, local volunteers kicked off the Exxpose Exxon campaign at a Mobil station in Royal Oak, just outside the city, waving signs at passersby like “Exxon—High Prices, Big Polluters” and “Pay back the Fishermen.”

 
  Bad Gas: The Sierra Club has joined 11 other public interest and environmental groups to encourage Americans not to purchase ExxonMobil’s gasoline or invest in ExxonMobil stock. That’s Northwest field staffer Roger Singer smiling in front of a Seattle Exxon station.

“Right after we got there,” she says, “a woman pumping gas asked what was going on. After we explained, she stopped pumping gas and said, ‘Oh, I won’t come here anymore,’ and drove off.”

Fifelski and her colleagues were among more than 50 groups across the country who rallied against Exxon this summer, urging their members and the public not to purchase ExxonMobil’s gasoline or other products, invest in ExxonMobil stock, or work for the company.

Why? For starters, there’s the $12 million ExxonMobil has spent to fund “climate skeptics” who proclaim that global warming science is “uncertain.” And then there’s ExxonMobil’s active support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Last but not least, ExxonMobil has refused to pay $4 billion in punitive damages to fishermen, natives, and others harmed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

Exxpose Exxon grew out of discussions after the elections, says Dave Hamilton, the Sierra Club’s director of global warming. “With the Congress even worse than last year, we wanted to take a new look at what people could do and Exxon absolutely exemplified what’s wrong with our energy policy and the politics around energy.”

Hamilton says the campaign is not a boycott, which specifically intends to affect the bottom line of a company, but it’s aimed at educating the public about all the ways “Exxon is working in their own interest and against the national interest.”

“For example, it’s in our national interest to reduce dependence on oil and protect the environment,” says Hamilton. “Exxon is actively working against those goals.”

In a May Reuters story, Exxon spokesperson Scott Nauman dismissed renewable energy as “an uneconomic niche” that the company would not be investing in.

Like other Club organizers, Fifelski started her day by delivering a letter to the manager of the gas station to let him know why the protesters were gathering. “He was just ‘whatever,’ but after a bunch of people came and went and we handed them our literature, he called me inside and said the station owner was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. The owner was unaware that ExxonMobil was part of Arctic Power and in support of drilling the Arctic, and when I asked him if he’d be willing to write a letter to Exxon, he said he would.”

Club organizers all over the country garnered positive responses from passersby. In Atlanta, says organizer Natalie Foster, protesters leafleted at a downtown Exxon station, chanting, “The word is out, the heat is on. We want the truth, expose Exxon.” In Colorado, where the only two Exxon stations are near Durango, the coalition focused on a “Don’t Invest in Exxon” theme, rallying in front of Union Station at the foot of Denver’s “Wall Street.” In Little Rock, the Exxpose Exxon campaign mounted an oil derrick on the Capitol steps. The Exxpose Exxon coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Alaska Wilderness League, and nine other groups, also released a report—“ExxonMobil Exposed: More Drilling, More Global Warming, More Oil Dependence.”

A few days after the Exxpose Exxon campaign kicked off, ExxonMobil announced second quarter earnings of almost $8 billion. “Don’t ask ExxonMobil what we should do about global warming or oil dependence,” says Hamilton. “They like things just fine the way they are. Meanwhile, Americans continue to lack real energy alternatives and ExxonMobil continues to pull the strings of America’s energy policy.”

In August, ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond announced he would retire at the end of the year. Whether this will make a difference in Exxon’s practices is too soon to tell, but as Andrew Logan, oil program manager at CERES, a coalition of investors and environmentalists, told Reuters, “You couldn’t imagine anyone worse on the issue of climate change than Lee Raymond, so there’s really nowhere to go but up with his successor.”

Find out more about Exxpose Exxon and sign a petition to CEO Lee Raymond at sierraclub.org/exxposeexxon.

 

photo by Jennifer Rudolph Nance


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