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I couldn't believe it either when I read this on MSNBC, but it looks like ExxonMobil will stop funding the astroturfing groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

NEW YORK - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is engaging in industry talks on possible U.S. greenhouse gas emissions regulations and has stopped funding groups skeptical of global warming claims —  moves that some say could indicate a change in stance from the long-time foe of limits on heat-trapping gases.

Exxon, along with representatives from about 20 other companies, is participating in talks sponsored by Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit. The think tank said it expected the talks would generate a report in the fall with recommendations to legislators on how to regulate greenhouse emissions.

Mark Boudreaux, a spokesman for Exxon, the world’s biggest publicly traded company, said its position on climate change has been “widely misunderstood and as a result of that, we have been clarifying and talking more about what our position is.”

More after the fold....

This is almost too good to be true.  Could the oil giants finally be going the way of the cigarette companies when the link between smoking and cancer finally proved too great to deny anymore?

Boudreux said Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and other groups that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions.


Some see Exxon’s participation in the talks, coupled with its pledge to stop funding CEI, as early signs of a possible policy change.

The fact that Exxon is trying to debate solutions, instead of whether climate change even exists, represents an important shift,” said Andrew Logan, a climate expert at Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists that works with companies to cut climate change risks.

Exxon’s funding action was confirmed this week by its vice president for public affairs. Kenneth Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Exxon decided in late 2005 that its 2006 nonprofit funding would not include CEI and "five or six" similar groups.

Cohen declined to identify the other groups, but their names could become public this spring when Exxon releases its annual list of donations to nonprofit groups.

And yes, this does seem to have quite a bit to do with Democrats retaking Congress.

Since Democrats won control of Congress in November, heavy industries have been nervously watching which route the United States may take on future regulations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists link to global warming. Several lawmakers on Friday introduced a bill to curb emissions.

President Bush has opposed mandatory emissions cuts such as those required by the international Kyoto Protocol. He withdrew the United States, the world’s top carbon emitter, from the Kyoto pact early in his first term.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Senate majority leader, has said he wants new legislation this spring to regulate heat-trapping emissions. Other legislators also are planning hearings on emissions.

Some are very encouraged.

Philip Sharp, president of Resources for the Future, told the Wall Street Journal that he was impressed by Exxon. “They are taking this debate very seriously,” said Sharp, a former Democratic congressman. “My personal opinion of them has changed by watching them operate.”

Others, however, are taking a more cautionary route.

In a report last year on how oil majors are addressing global warming emissions, Ceres gave Exxon a 35 — the worst of any company. Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell got 90 and 79, respectively.

“Given how large and influential Exxon is and that they are basically the last big industry climate skeptic standing, even small moves can have a very big impact,” said Logan.

But he said it was too early to tell the substance of the change. “The devil is in the details,” he said.

I think this is where we come in.  It will fall upon us to keep shining the light on them to see if they are serious about this, or if this is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig, or some other form of lip service.

I leave you with something I got in an e-mail from a good environmentalist friend of mine, when told about this change by ExxonMobil:

The people who tried blinding the eyes of the public, the business leaders who raped our world and forced us to partake in that rape, the politicians who followed big business's money like rats following cheese on a string, the media that failed utterly in its responsibility to accurately and honestly report must not be forgotten and they must be held accountable.  They are truly despicable. Even the misguided conservatives, the naive and self-important, the brainwashed and braindead must be remembered for who they are and must always be held in deep scrutiny.  They must be reminded always of their lack of foresight and understanding.  The environmental problems the world faces are far more numerous than global warming alone and talk is pretty cheap.  Those who opposed initiatives to mitigate global warming will no less likely stand in the way of other important measures that need to be taken and so these people must be remembered for the backwards thinking, myopic, selfish, self-serving liars and morons they are.

Bravo.  Couldn't have said it any better.  We don't know yet how serious Big Oil is on this yet.  But even if they are, does that mean we simply forget all the ills they've done to us over the last couple years, if not decades?  I say we continue to hold their feet to the fire, even more so now that they've shown weakness and are acquiesing at least a little on the global warming front.  Now's the time to change the frame of the debate nationally on global warming, and to make sure none of the others get any bright ideas to fuck over our country like they've been doing ever again.

Originally posted to BruinKid on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 11:53 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Small victory tip jar. (22+ / 0-)

    Hey, that Exxon is even admitting this is a small victory in our cause.  They were one of the biggest impediments to fixing the problem, and if that obstacle is removed, then so much the better.

  •  Yeah, right. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Wake me when the Exxon CEO testifies under oath that combustion of fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming.

    Parallel to the tobacco companies, anyone?  

    this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

    by horsewithnoname on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 11:52:51 AM PST

    •  But that's the point. (0+ / 0-)

      The tobacco companies lost the public debate, and now it's really no longer up for debate that smoking can cause lung cancer and a host of other diseases.  We need Americans as a whole to understand that global warming is a very REAL problem, that IS being exacerbated by what Man is doing.  There's still a significant chunk of our population that still lives in a state of denial on this.  And those people will throw every obstacle in our path to stop us from helping the planet.  We need to relegate them to the dustbins of history.  This is a first step.

  •  Great News (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, TomP

    They have to have scientists working at Exxon, and they KNOW there is Global Warming. I guess they didn't want to be a BIG target when investigations start. See? Elections matter!

    This President is in a league of his own. The BUSH league!

    by Tuba Les on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 11:54:33 AM PST

  •  As John Malone said of the current (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, Silent Lurker

    post-conglomeration media sell-off:

    "We are disaggregating in order to consolidate."

    They're retooling for a new day, one where they still fully intend to remain on top.

    "No man should have to clean up after another man's dog." --President Gerald R. Ford

    by Mogolori on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 11:58:19 AM PST

  •  it's a start...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Is it for real, or is it just Greenwashing? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Exxon needs to do something really substantial to convince this skeptic.

    What about their shoveling money into the Cheney/Bush campaign?

    The occupation of Iraq is being prolonged indefinitely to save face for Duhbya and his crew of NeoCon nitwits.

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 12:19:29 PM PST

  •  And UCS report (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    last week (Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to "Manufacture Uncertainty" on Climate Change ... was this a prompting for the shift?

    According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

    "ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy & Policy. "A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years."

    The Energy Conversation: Learn - Connect - Share - Participate: For a new dialogue on Energy issues.

    by A Siegel on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 12:46:45 PM PST

  •  Hopefully Michael Chrchton will... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, libnewsie, lale

    will step up to the plate and help fill the gap that Exxon has left in the Climate Change Denialist lobby's budget. It would only cost him a few million dollars, annually.

    If not, the corporate polluter appologists at CEI may be forced to go get a real jobs.

    Just like the Tobacco lobby of old.

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

    by greendem on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 12:53:32 PM PST

  •  I totally agree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, libnewsie, North Central

    In fact, I have almost finished my first novel, which has a large-scale conspiracy to cover up global warming as a backdrop. (Take that, Crichton!)

    But...if we are trying to change the frame of the public debate, we need to lose some of the attitude displayed by your understandably upset friend.

    "backwards thinking, myopic, selfish, self-serving liars and morons" may be pretty accurate, but it's not a line to move forward with.

  •  I got this in an email this am (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie, lale

    sorry, don't have a link:


       Jeffrey Ball.
       The Wall Street Journal. 2007/01/11. Page A2.

       Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company by market value and a leading opponent of government limits on the emission of gases linked to global warming, has ended its funding of outside groups that have questioned the scientific validity of arguments claiming that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the atmosphere. Environmentalists and U.S. Democrats have criticized Exxon's executives for questioning the links between these emissions and global warming and for funding groups that support their opposition to limits. The company now acknowledges the increasing reliability of climate-science models showing a correlation between the concentration of greenhouse gases and global warming.

       Exxon officials have agreed to meet with the representatives of other large corporations in Washington, D.C., to consider the form of potential U.S. carbon regulation they could support. Exxon continues to call attention to the uncertainties of climate science and maintains its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.

  •  Fall? (0+ / 0-)

    The think tank said it expected the talks would generate a report in the fall with recommendations to legislators on how to regulate greenhouse emissions.

    Exxon wouldn't have far to look for recommendations on how to regulate greenhouse gases.  Hello?  How long have we been gnashing our teeth over this crisis?  Did even one of their flunkies bother to see Al Gore's movie, even if just to see what the "opposition" was up to?  Why wait till fall to issue recommendations?

    Good diary.  Any whiff of a change in course is a happy thing.

    Now today's weather: unseasonably warm. Tomorrow: unseasonably warm. The day after...

    by North Central on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 02:35:07 PM PST

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