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.