A group of environmental and social justice organizations have launched a coordinated campaign in protest of petroleum giant ExxonMobil’s efforts to cast doubts on the science of global warming and attempts to lobby for opening the still-pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.
“On arctic drilling and global warming, they are the worst of the worst,” said Athan Manuel of U.S. PIRG, an environmental group that has teamed up with the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, MoveOn.org and others to mount the protest campaign. Last week the groups held press conferences in 50 U.S. cities to announce a global boycott of ExxonMobil’s service stations and products. They also launched the website exxposeexxon.com to publicize their cause and gain support for the joint campaign.
The groups claim that ExxonMobil spent $15 million since 1998 to fund organizations that publicize junk science in order to cloud the international debate about global warming. They also accuse the company of failing to invest in clean energy technology, and berate it for not paying $4 billion in punitive damages to fishermen and others harmed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. The groups are also appalled by the company’s open desire to drill in ANWR, even though other major oil companies have pulled out support for drilling in the disputed area.
In response, ExxonMobil spokesperson Russ Roberts told reporters that the company recognizes global warming risks and will be investing $100 million over the next decade in climate research as such. Regarding ANWR drilling, Roberts said his company supports environmentally responsible development there. “We believe that with more than 30 years of industry experience on Alaska’s North Slope and with recent technological advancements, ANWR can be developed with little threat to the ecology of the Coastal Plain,” he said.