(CNSNews.com) - A coalition of environmental and public interest groups Tuesday launched a campaign to expose and change ExxonMobil's "irresponsible and deceptive behavior," but a spokesman for a conservative group said the real goal of the effort is to create political, not environmental, change.
The "Exxpose Exxon" campaign was launched outside ExxonMobil service stations in cities across the country and at a rally in Washington, D.C., where activists called on the world's largest oil company to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), support mandatory caps on pollution and "stop funding junk science to cloud the debate on global warming."
"For years, ExxonMobil has intentionally put its own profits above a clean environment and the health of America's families," the coalition said in a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond. "As a result, we are asking all Americans not to accept a new job at ExxonMobil, invest in the company or buy ExxonMobil's gas and products.
"Our nation can chart a course towards a cleaner, healthier energy future by harnessing the American ingenuity that has marked this country throughout its history," the coalition added. "ExxonMobil can be a part of that solution or continue to fight it tooth and nail."
Signing the letter were the leaders of 12 liberal-leaning organizations, including the Alaska Wilderness League, Friends of the Earth, the National Environmental Trust, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Speakers at Tuesday's rally in the nation's capital included Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen, Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando, U.S. Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Gene Karpinski and David Tuft of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The activists displayed a large "Exxpose Exxon Discredit Card" to show their dissatisfaction with the company, which they said has continually worked to make the U.S. more dependent on oil and failed to invest a significant sum of its considerable profits into clean sources of energy, unlike competitors such as BP and Shell.
Also on Tuesday, the coalition posted on its \ul website\ulnone a report entitled \ul "ExxonMobil Exposed: More Drilling, More Global Warming, More Oil Dependence,"\ulnone which details "how the Texas-based oil giant has consistently moved the U.S. backward, not forward, on energy policy."
According to the report, ExxonMobil gave more than $15 million to organizations working to "hide the facts about global warming" between 1998 and 2004.
The report also noted that increased demand for "dwindling" world oil and gas supplies earned ExxonMobil a record $25.3 billion in net income in 2004, but at the same time, company executives refused to invest in renewable energy, calling it 'uneconomic.'
The coalition criticized ExxonMobil's pledge to spend $100 million over 10 years for research at Stanford University into new energy technologies.
The company's commitment is "just two days' worth of its 2004 profits and is dwarfed by its spending on oil and gas exploration in 2004 alone -- more than $1 billion," the report charges.
"In addition, the Stanford project has no goals and no guarantee that ExxonMobil will apply any of the technology it helps develop."
'This is a charade'
On its own \ul website\ulnone http://exxonmobil.com/corporate/Newsroom/NewsReleases/Corp_NR_response_071205.asp , ExxonMobil responds that its commitment to the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford is "the largest-ever investment in independent climate and energy research."
Addressing charges that the company is putting profit over the environment regarding drilling in ANWR, the site states: "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."
Regarding global warming, ExxonMobil said it "recognizes the risk of climate change and its potential impact on societies and ecosystems, and we continue to take actions and work with others to address that risk."
"Relative to 1999, our energy-saving initiatives have had a greenhouse gas effect equivalent to removing over 1 million U.S. cars from the road," the website says. "We continue to invest in new technologies and establish new processes that reduce emissions."
Despite its quick response to the coalition's accusations, ExxonMobil will never satisfy its critics in the campaign, said H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow of the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, who called the effort "a massive public relations campaign" to bring about political, not environmental, change.
"All groups and individuals are free to express their views in the marketplace, but consumers should also understand that this is a charade," Burnett said.
"Contrary to environmental lobbyists' claims, there is still lively scientific debate concerning the extent to which human activities contribute to the Earth's current warming trend.
"Exxon recognizes that the question is still open, but these environmentalists want to shut off public debate and muzzle any research that undermines their political goals," he added.
Branding Exxon-Mobil an outlaw corporation because the company supports responsible oil and gas exploration and production on such public lands as ANWR may be harmful to the U.S. economy and irresponsible for national security, Burnett said, especially at a time when both gas prices and oil imports are at near-record highs.
"If consumers support the boycott and Exxon-Mobil decides to make conciliatory gestures on global warming, that will be a business decision," Burnett said. "But it will not be driven by a change in the basic understanding of the science of climate change."
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