'Fossil Fools' Protests Target Oil Industry
"Our political and corporate leaders have been fooling around with our future by refusing to take the bold action needed to avert a climate crisis," said Brianna Cayo-Cotter of the Energy Action Coalition, which has billed the event as "Fossil Fools Day."
Tuesday's protests will take place as chief executive officers (CEOs) of five major oil companies testify before a committee of the U.S. Congress that has called a hearing on energy issues and the threats caused by global warming.
The oil companies' representatives have been subpoenaed by Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) who chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Markey is excepted to raise questions about record increases in oil companies' profits and the soaring prices at gas pumps.
"We will send a powerful message to these oil executives and the Select Committee that demands reinvestment of oil subsidies to fuel America's clean energy future," said Cayo-Cotter in explaining the Coalition's protest plans, which include a major rally in Washington.
The Coalition, a network of 48 nongovernmental organizations, said its day-long activities will include a comedy show called "Billionaires for Oil." It will also arrange a mock awards ceremony to depict the oil executives as greedy characters who do not care about climate change.
"Fossil Fools Day" is also being observed by environmental groups in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. In the United States, actions include green job rallies, block parties, and demonstrations at state capitols, car dealerships, and proposed coal plant sites.
The groups involved in organizing efforts for Tuesday's protests include Americans for Informed Democracy, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, and the Sierra Student Coalition.
"Our future is at stake and we demand an immediate transition away from fossil fuels and towards a just, clean energy revolution," said Cayo-Cotter, adding that the Coalition and other groups have planned more than 100 actions across the nation.
Activists said they want dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climatic changes. They say that is not possible without a rapid transition away from fossil fuels.
Of the 10 largest corporations in the world, five are oil companies. Industry watchers say the economic dominance of the oil companies translates into unprecedented political power, which they regularly use to block environmental legislation that would increase their costs.
Critics say that ExxonMobil, currently the world's second largest corporation, has not only caused environmental destruction across the globe but is also sponsoring junk science groups that deny the existence and causes of climate changes.
The company continues to dismiss calls to invest its record profits in renewable fuel sources.
"Though it is the most profitable corporation in the United States, ExxonMobil's endless thirst for more oil, power, and profits has led it to aggressively join its peers in lobbying for more than $6 billion in oil industry subsidies," according to Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International, a nonprofit watchdog group that keeps track of corporate wrongdoings towards the environment and labor.
In 2006, ExxonMobil spent $14.5 million in lobbying expenses, twice as much as it spent a year earlier. However, it has failed to relinquish its image as one of the worst abusers of the environment.
In Louaillier's view, the company's name "will forever be associated with the worst environmental spill in U.S. history," the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, which despoiled large parts of Alaska's Prince William Sound and killed more than a quarter of a million seabirds and thousands of seals, otters, and orcas.
On Tuesday, along with the other oil companies' CEOs, ExxonMobil's representative is expected to take heat from both the elected officials inside the Capitol building and the activists outside.
© 2008 One World