birdOne week’s revenue. That’s what a judge, and a jury, have three times decided is a fair price for ExxonMobil to pay for the Exxon Valdez disaster fifteen years ago, one of the worst ecological catastrophes in the history of the world, which resulted in the permanent destruction of one of the world’s most beautiful and fragile ecosystems. And now this week for the third time the corporation, with its army of high-paid lawyers, has vowed it will again appeal these paltry damages, essentially waiving any and all responsibility for this despicable atrocity. Their lawyers confidently predict they will eventually ‘prevail’ and will end up paying next to nothing. In America, if you have money, you can get away with anything, even, it seems, a holocaust.

ExxonMobil is a disgrace, a perennial resident on most social and environmental boycott lists. If you’re not already boycotting these robber barons, please start. Include subsidiaries Ancon, Esso, Delhi, Fina, Superior, Columbia Resources, Standard, Duke Energy, Imperial, and Paxon. This organization demonstrates with stunning clarity how desperately we need radical reform of corporate charters, the revocation of ‘rights of persons’ for corporations, and an end to indemnification of officers and directors of corporations for company wrong-doings. If we had these reforms in place, the corporation, on being found guilty of such outrageously negligent behaviour, could have its charter revoked, its officers imprisoned, and fines a hundred times larger could be imposed, and made to stick. The fines could used to shake the rest of the industry into proper environmental safeguards, and to provide a fund for protection and remediation of natural sites despoiled by the oil oligopoly the world over.

Here is just a partial list of the long litany of ExxonMobil corporate misdeeds, other than the Valdez disaster:

  • human rights violations (providing facilities and equipment for torture and murder of political opponents in Indonesia, Chad & Cameroun)
  • toxic discharges (into NY harbour, from a pipeline spill in California, a spill of carcinogens into Long Island groundwater, radioactive contamination of residential area in Louisiana, disregarding the dangers of carcinogenous oil additive MBTE contaminating the drinking water in several states, and toxic discharges from a waste storage facility in Kazakhstan)
  • testing of its petrochemical products on laboratory animals
  • shareholder disclosure violations (failure to disclose required information on diversity, environmental breaches, executive compensation, lack of investment in alternative renewable energy and human rights violations)
  • abuse of power and public trust (high-powered and heavily-financed opposition to the Kyoto Accord, denial of the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. and trying to get scientists concerned about global warming removed from government advisory bodies)
  • disregard for health and safety (negligence resulting in death of refinery workers in Australia)
  • threat to endangered species (seismic testing in areas inhabited by rare whales in Asia)
  • discrimination (a score of 14 out of 100 on equality and discrimination against gays and lesbians in hiring practices, refusal to provide benefits to unmarried couples, violations of the international embargo against apartheid in South Africa)
  • ethics violations (price-gouging of independent retailers, reneging on price agreements with franchisees, cheating state governments out of royalties)
  • complicity in the coal-for-arms trade between the US and Colombia (Exxon built the huge, devastating coal strip-mine in Tabaco, Colombia, and then spun it off to a consortium of other multinational oil companies, so that those suing the mine cannot get satisfaction from either “we’re no longer involved’ Exxon or the “this happened before we were involved” consortium that now owns the mine — a classic corporatist tactic)
  • reports from several countries also allege that Exxon/Esso engages in price-fixing with competitors, and has the dirtiest burning gasoline available

Of course ExxonMobil denies virtually all of this. They’re fighting, have been fighting, and will continue to fight most of these charges until the litigants die or run out of money. They are listed as one of the Top 10 ‘Greenwashers’ in the world — companies that spend huge amounts on PR, advertising and litigation to misrepresent themselves as socially and environmentally responsible, while investing next to nothing on remediation, research or any other programs that could actually make them more responsible.

A new report commissioned by Friends of the Earth, just out today, shows ExxonMobil is single-handedly responsible for 5% of all the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere in modern history, earmarking it as the world’s single largest contributor to global warming. The company is the object of literally hundreds of boycotts worldwide, and is absolutely remorseless for what they are doing to our planet.

We need to stop these bastards. Please support a renewed boycott of all ExxonMobil products, companies, and suppliers, and spread the word to others. ExxonMobil and the oil barons may have the Bush Administration in their back pockets, but we can use our back pockets to make an example of them, until it hurts their bottom line.

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  1. Susan says:

    If you’re ever in Homer, Alaska, as I was two years ago, they have a fantastic museum dedicated to the big exxon valdez spill. A real eye-opener. Total indictment of Exxon in every possible way.

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