Exxon Secrets

Last May I mentioned Josh On’s website They Rule, and lately I’ve been exploring his newest creation, Exxon Secrets. Produced with his wife for Greenpeace, Exxon Secrets details how funding from the ExxonMobil corporation funds influential institutions and think-tanks that promote anti-environmental agendas. In particular, these groups challenge at every turn all scientific proof of global climatic change. Since 1998 ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, has given over $12 million to organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the neocon American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (which has enormous ties–some might say a stranglehold–on the current Bush administration).

I should point out that these organizations not only strive to influence national environmental policy, they have also provided much of the ideological justification for the war in Iraq. Freedom! Liberty! Of course, whatever ideology says, the real reason for the war is oil. Exxon Secrets reveals, for example, the little remarked-upon fact that Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s National Security Advisor, is a former director on the corporate board of Chevron, the world’s fourth largest publicly-held oil and gas company, with drilling facilities as far away as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. (Kuwait? Didn’t America do something there a few years back? Can’t remember what. But whatever it was, ChevronTexaco’s “production in the Partitioned Neutral Zone, between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has more than tripled since 1990.”)

Chevron was so impressed with Rice, who served as a director from 1991 to 2001, that the company even named an oil tanker after her in 1993. Alas, in May 2001, shortly after Rice left Chevron to become Bush’s National Security Advisor, Chevron quietly renamed the Condoleezza Rice tanker to Altair Voyager. Chevron’s spokesperson said that this was simply “to eliminate the unnecessary attention caused by the vessel’s original name.”

They’re so modest, those oil companies.

Josh On provides a few more insights to Exxon Secrets in this online interview with the online zine Kopenhagen.