Gas and Oil Corporation Deception? What a Surprise!

Photograph Source: Andrew MercerCC BY-SA 4.0

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a trove of documents last week that show while gas and oil mega-corporations have been mouthing their commitment to clean energy “transition,” they’ve actually been peddling what, in the West, would be called “bull pucky.” In the common vernacular of our time, it’s a practice known as “greenwashing,” which amounts to putting lipstick on the pig of their planet-killing pollution.

Right out of the chute, let’s be clear that these enormous mega-corporations are not in business to break even or save the planet. They are wholly dedicated to making as much money as possible as quickly as possible. They don’t do that by “transitioning” to clean energy, they do it by selling gas, oil, and petroleum products.

Anyone who thinks these corporate giants didn’t know that fossil fuels would threaten the very existence of mankind on the planet might want to consider this article in the Washington Post that opens with: “In November 1959 Edward Teller, ‘the father of the hydrogen bomb,’ told a group of oil company executives and scientists gathered at Columbia University that continued burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet, potentially melting the ice caps and submerging New York and other coastal cities — posing a threat to civilization comparable to a global nuclear war.”

Going on 64 years later, Teller’s chilling analogy is coming true. Only instead of instant annihilation from nukes, we’re experiencing a slower, but no less deadly, self-immolation as the Earth overheats. Now we’re wiping out a record number of species at a breakneck pace in the 6th Great Extinction Event, the predicted sea level rise is accelerating, and huge areas of the planet are running out of fresh water and facing desertification.

Much like the tobacco companies whose scientists and doctors knew their products were killing people — but fought tooth and nail to deny it for decades — the oil and gas giants knew what their products were causing and would continue to cause long into a bleak future.

Of course it’s not exactly a revelation that the fossil fuel industry is predatory in every sense of the word. Take, for example, the outrageous price gouging that recently took place under the excuse that blamed the Ukraine war for skyrocketing fuel costs. Then our “friends” the Saudis added to the trauma at the pump by declaring a cutback in output. I mean, why not kick us when we’re down?

But here we are, after record-breaking profits have swelled the corporate coffers, the war in Ukraine is still going on, and the gas prices are coming down. What happened to all the handy excuses for gouging the public? What happened to the blatant attempts to viciously manipulate the market — and make the public pay?

Adding insult to injury, another Washington Post article reports the House documents “reveal oil company executives dismissing the potential for renewable energy to quickly replace fossil fuels, while working to secure government tax credits for carbon capture projects that might relieve them of the need to drastically alter their business models.” Gotta love that — not only hosed at the pump, but ripped off for tax credits for phony “carbon capture” projects they privately dismissed as futile.

We could go on being played for fools. Or the predatory corporations implicated in perpetuating this charade could immediately become ineligible for the “transition” tax credits as well as requiring full restitution for their most recent price gouging. And finally, it’s time to publicly condemn their “greenwashing” — after all, at this point in the climate crisis, we’ve got nothing to lose by exposing these shameful, destructive frauds.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.