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Monday, September 21, 2009

Joseph Romm: Newsweek publishes the worst major media story on energy this year

Newsweek gets duped by Big Oil — for real — in worst Big Media story of the year

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, September 20, 2009

Big Oil Goes Green for Real

So blares the Onion Newsweek headline.

Forget that Big Oil’s product is a principal cause of the gravest environmental threat to the health and well-being of humanity (see “Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“). Certainly forget all the other environmental impacts of oil.

Forget that Big Oil is a principal funder of disinformation aimed at blocking action on global warming — see “Leaked Memo: Big Oil is manufacturing ‘Energy Citizen’ rallies to oppose clean energy reform and “Even fantasy-filled American Petroleum Institute study finds no significant impact of climate bill on US refining.“

Newsweek says we should focus on the truly small stuff:

So how should we take the spate of new green announcements from the world’s major oil firms?

Uhh, not BP: “BP stand for ‘back to petroleum’ — oil giant shuts clean energy HQ, slashes renewables budget up to $900 million this year, dives into tar sands.”

And not Shell: “Shell shocker: Once ‘green’ oil company guts renewables effort.”

And not everyone else: “Big oil made $600 billion under Bush, but invested bupkis in clean energy, Part 2: Details on BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Shell and ExxonMobil.”

Here is the basis of Newsweek’s nonsensical spin:

In July, ExxonMobil announced big plans to grow green algae to fuel cars. In July, ExxonMobil announced big plans to grow green algae to fuel cars; last week, Chevron unveiled the world’s largest carbon-sequestration project in Australia; and in recent months, Valero, Marathon, and Sunoco carried out a series of acquisitions that resulted in Big Oil controlling 7 percent of the U.S. ethanol business.

The list goes on. And this time it’s the real deal.

[Pause for laughter to die down. Pause longer for subsequent crying jag to end.]

Since when was corn ethanol green?

And ExxonMobil is green … for real? Seriously, Newsweek?

Yes, forget the country’s biggest oil company has funneled millions of dollars to fund the disinformation campaigns of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, all of which continue to advance unfactual anti-scientific attacks as I have detailed recently (see posts on Heritage and CEI and AEI). Chris Mooney wrote an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign. A 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report looked at ExxonMobil’s tobacco industry-like tactics in pushing global warming denial (see “Today We Have a Planet That’s Smoking!”).

The oil giant said it would stop, but that was just another lie (see “Another ExxonMobil deceit: They are still funding climate science deniers despite public pledge“). Newsweek should read this excellent commentary by award-winning journalist, Eric Pooley, “Exxon Works Up New Recipe for Frying the Planet.“

But what about nouveau-green Valero? A recent story notes:

San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp. is launching a campaign against proposals to lower carbon emissions by posting signs at its gasoline stations warning customers about the projected increase in fuel prices if the U.S. House-approved bill on carbon cap-and-trade becomes law.

And don’t get me started on Chevron:

And the piece ends with this whopper:

Big Oil is going to be an increasingly important investor in alternative energy. Venture-capital money has dried up.

Not. In fact “Venture capital funding for renewable energy and cleantech startups (which plunged from last October through March) rebounded in the second quarter” with a staggering “$1.2 billion invested in 67 countries.”

This is the worst major media story on energy this year.

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