As Congress debates what actions to take to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” perhaps no programs are less worthy of government support than those which subsidize Big Oil, Gas and Coal. Read on to understand:
- How oil, gas and coal companies undermine your children’s futures,
- Why these subsidies are a waste of taxpayer dollars, and
- What you can do to stop them.
Imagine if your government gave a company a sweet deal to build your local playground. Then, that company dumped toxic waste underneath where your kids play everyday, just because it was the most profitable thing for them to do.
What would you do? Obviously you’d protect your children and demand that the company fully pay to clean up their mess. You’d demand that the company pay for any medical help needed by your kids. Finally, you’d demand that your government immediately stop sending your tax dollars—subsidies—to that company.
That company is Exxon, the playground is our planet, and the sweet deal they get is by way of massive government handouts. But Exxon is not alone; their competitors and industry friends in the fossil fuel game are all running their businesses in a way that is ruining our children’s futures.
In short, if you judge Exxon and other fossil fuel companies not by the words on their press releases, but by their actions and predictable consequences, Exxon really must hate your children. The facts speak for themselves.
Consider the following:
Exxon must hate your children because their business model depends on drilling for more and more of the fuels that cause climate disruption, even though fossil fuel companies have already discovered significantly more oil, gas and coal than scientists say we can safely burn. They are creating climate chaos every day—and they’re getting rich doing it.
Even the International Energy Agency now agrees that in order to have even chances of limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius (beyond which the worst impacts of warming will kick in), two-thirds of the current proven reserves of fossil fuels must remain in the ground by 2050.
Exxon must hate your children because, for years, they spent millions funding a coordinated campaign to create confusion about climate science, which slowed the move towards a more sustainable future. Now Exxon (finally) admits that climate change is a problem, but…
- They say they can’t predict what will happen, and
- Therefore they will continue business as usual.
In June 2012, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to “adapt”. Tillerson blamed a public that is “illiterate” in science and math, a “lazy” press, and advocacy groups that “manufacture fear” for misconceptions around the oil and gas industry.
Exxon must hate your children because they and other fossil fuel companies send campaign contributions to candidates for Congress, and in turn, they get massive subsidies … at the expense of more important causes. For every one dollar Big Oil spends on political contributions, they get $59 back in subsidies—a 5,800 percent rate of return. Meanwhile, they make record profits—in 2011, just the five biggest oil companies alone (including Exxon) made roughly $135 billion in profits. The at least $10 billion annually in our tax dollars that goes to supporting these rich fossil fuel companies should instead go to building a safe future for all our children.
Exxon must hate your children because climate change threatens the future of all of our children, and they seem to just ignore it. Even before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast of the U.S., we were witnessing climate impacts on a daily basis, and they’re only getting worse. Just this summer, we’ve seen drought engulf the breadbasket of America. We’ve seen freak storms ravage the Midwest and east coast. All of these impacts are consistent with scientific predictions of climate change. Yet Exxon continues drilling and funding Congressional campaigns, in order to get more subsidies to feed their addiction to their climate-destroying profits.
So, to Exxon, your children’s safe futures stand in the way of their massive profits. They peddle influence, throw their money around and lobby their way to more subsidies, more obscene profits … and a more dangerous future for the rest of us.
Exxon, and all other oil, gas and coal companies, talk a good game. Their slick ads—which they have the money to place almost everywhere thanks to record profits supplemented by government handouts—promise jobs, prosperity, energy security and a brighter future. Unfortunately, the only promise that they are likely to deliver on is the promise of profits—which won’t matter for your children, who will have to pay the price.
This is not a problem we will solve overnight. To start though, we can demand that Exxon, and all other oil companies, stop using our money to fund climate destruction.
Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.