[Back to diaries … great info! I also urge you to read Soj’s diary: “Venezuela & Robertson – The Rest of the Story.” – susanhu]

For several weeks now, there has been a boycott of Exxon/Mobil. If you want to see what has already been done, read my first and second diaries on this topic. Since the start of this so-far pretty successful boycott, suddenly Venezuela, one of the main alternative sources of oil to the Middle East, is under a broad attack by the right. Coincidence? Possibly. But Citgo, a Venezuelan oil company selling Venezuelan oil, has been touted as the main alternative to Exxon/Mobil. More below.
First off, why boycott Exxon/Mobil? Here are some examples of what Exxon/Mobil does (excerpted from Truthout.org):

-Despite making a record profit of $25 billion last year, ExxonMobil is still shirking payment of the full amount it owes fishermen and natives hurt by the Exxon Valdez oil spill sixteen years ago.

-ExxonMobil is the only oil company that’s still part of Arctic Power, the group lobbying Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. The rest bowed out due to public pressure.

– ExxonMobil has spent more than $15 million since 1998 to deny the existence of global warming by funding junk science groups to cloud the debate. BP, for example, not only admits we have a problem but is investing in solar energy research and selling real solar panels today to help deal with the problem.

I next want to address some comments made regarding this boycott by a reader of my Progressive Democrat Newsletter. These comments are well thought out and deserve a retort.

You say that BP and Chevron has better overall environmental records.  Are you sure? Where did you get that from? I hope not from their  glitzy PR blitz. Their “beyond petroleum” commercials are pretty, but  they’re a smokescreen. My father works for ExxonMobil – very, very  high up. He’s probably the only liberal in that high of a position in  the company. I’ve talked to him about these things a LOT. I boycott  ExxonMobil – and my father knows that I boycott them – because  they’re one of the few remaining oil companies that do not recognize  the scientific community’s nearly unanimous conclusions on global  warming.

But you should be careful about the hype. Did you know that of all the oil companies, ExxonMobil has the highest efficiency in their production/refining processes? Did you know that no other oil company spends as much as they do on funding research to improve the efficiency and reduce the emissions of combustion processes? They recently gave $100 million to Stanford to “engage in research to develop technologies that foster the development of a global energy system where greenhouse emissions are much lower than today”. Here’s an article on it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2496293.stm

Some good points here. I have looked into which oil companies are good and bad and BP does NOT live up to its hype, but it still measures up better than most oil companies. My comments on Chevron being a good alternative come mainly from Jared Diamond’s observations in his book Collapse where Chevron comes off very well in terms of environmental care.

But my reader’s comment prompted me to look again.  So I checked Co-Op America’s Responsible Shopper site, a pretty comprehensive consumer’s resource. Roughly, their ranking of gas stations is as follows: (from best to worst)

Sunoco: neutral social and environmental rankings

BJ’s Wholesale Club: neutral social and environmental rankings

BP: neutral social, mildly bad environmental ranking

Albertson’s: mildly bad social, neutral environmental ranking

Amerada Hess: mildly bad social and environmental rankings

Shell: very bad social, mildly bad environmental ranking

Chevron/Texico: very bad social and environmental rankings

Exxon/Mobil: very bad social and environmental rankings

Citgo is not ranked. If you go to the link above to see their table, you can click on each company to see the good and bad practices of each.

They agree that Exxon/Mobil ranks lowest. They disagree with me that Chevron/Texaco is much better. This may be due to the fact that I was not considering Texaco (which is now part of the same company) and partly may be simply that Chevron DOES do alot of good, but also does just as much bad.

Using the above chart, BP, BJ’s and Albertson’s are the best. I have never seen the latter, so they must be regional and hence BP is the best of the national stations. I would add Citgo, which is too small a company to be on the list. Please check out the their ranking of gas stations chart and look in detail at each company rather than just going by my summary.

But let us turn to Citgo for a moment. Here is another comment from the same reader:

Also, I don’t want to discourage you from buying Citgo, but if you  think that’s going to make a difference in terms of where our oil  comes from, you’re wrong. The thing is, if everyone started to buy  Citgo, they wouldn’t be able to supply all the oil they needed from  Venezuela. They can do it because they’re relatively small.  Inevitably, they would have to start drilling in the Middle East, or  Alaska, or Asia, or wherever else there is oil. All you’re doing is  playing musical chairs with oil companies. You’re just changing where  they have to drill, but unless demand went down (which the sad  reality is it won’t – it always goes up), the same amount of oil  would be drilled. If this type of protest worked, the only change  would be that Citgo would be drilling in Saudi Arabia instead of the  other oil companies.  

Interesting point. But I think for right now, encouraging the Venezuelan alternative, particularly because Chavez is now such a thorn in Bush’s side, is the right thing to do. So, again, I encourage buying Citgo. Chavez is a popularly elected leader of a nation. We have tried interfering in their elections, tried destabilizing them and now Pat Robertson is advocating assassination. I can think of no better way of objecting to the right’s attack on Venezuela than buying Citgo gas. It is an immediate message and it, in the short term, sends less money to Saudi Arabia, a REAL dictatorship.

So, back to the boycott. Not only do we need to continue boycotting Exxon/Mobil, but we have to tell them we are doing it and we have to spread the word. If you are a member of any progressive or environmental organization, PLEASE spread the word to that organization regarding the boycott and offer Citgo (and BP? Albertson’s? BJ’s? Chevron?) as possible alternatives. If you really want to pitch this to a group, emphasize that Exxon/Mobil leads the effort to open the Arctic refuge to drilling and the effort to suppress global warming research. These alone are reasons to boycott.

And, as everyone points out, Exxon/Mobil are just PART of the problem. Of course we all have to find ways to cut back on oil consumption. Join the national eRideshare program. Or form a carpool system at work or with your local progressive/environmental group. Turning away from cars for the moment, I have found that changing to compact fluorescent bulbs not only saves the environment, but we save lots of money. They cost more to buy, but they last much longer than regular bulbs, and we saw our energy bills drop dramatically when we switched. Buy compact fluorescent bulbs if you do nothing else to save the world.




That is my call to arms for you all.

Update [2005-8-25 10:56:30 by mole333]:It has been pointed out that BJ’s and Albertson’s are not the producers of the gas they sell. They more than likely sell Exxon/Mobil gas. So we are left with BP and Citgo. And, talking about retail stores, 7/11 mainly sells Citgo.

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