Big Oil: Tax Me Before I Kill Again
December 8, 2015
Exxon Mobil Corp., a favorite target of global warming activists, said Wednesday that it’s hopeful for a deal out of the climate-change talks in Paris and still thinks the best solution is a tax on carbon pollution.
As the United Nations negotiations moved into a third day, the world’s biggest oil explorer said in an blog post that it supports “meaningful action to address the risks of climate change” as long as it preserved access to the reliable and affordable energy.
“The long-term objective of climate-change policy should be to reduce the risks of serious harm to humanity and ecosystems at minimum societal cost, while recognizing shared humanitarian necessities,” Exxon Mobil General Counsel Ken Cohen wrote in the post.
In the run-up to the Paris talks that began Nov. 30, Exxon has been under heavy assault by environmentalists and politicians who say it misled the public by promoting uncertainties about climate science. New York State’s attorney general has subpoenaed company records about its research going back decades, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a Rolling Stone interview published Tuesday, said Exxon’s actions would amount to “a betrayal” of humanity if it’s found to have suppressed knowledge about climate risks.
Given your characterization of climate change as a national-security threat, when you look at what the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil are doing – as you know, Exxon Mobil is being investigated by the New York state attorney general for lying to investors about what it knew about climate change—
Absolutely. It’s tobacco – it’s R.J. Reynolds all over again.
Given what’s at stake, do you consider Exxon Mobil or the Koch brothers an enemy of the state?
Well, I’ll leave it to other people to assign metaphors or allegories. I would prefer to try to build the consensus necessary, and we don’t get there if we start accusing people of things. So we need to try to bring people into an understanding. I don’t think we’re going to do it with the Koch brothers. But I think that Exxon Mobil stands potentially to lose billions of dollars in what I would imagine would be one of the largest class-action lawsuits in history.
And would you support that?
Yes. I would support the investigation into what happened, and, based on the facts, I’d pursue the facts. You pursue the truth in this kind of a situation. But if indeed they were ignoring internal memos and proselytizing in direct opposition to what they were being advised, there’s a certain culpability in that. It would be a very serious thing.
How do you feel as a human being about a company like Exxon Mobil profiting by misrepresenting its knowledge about the damage its product is doing to the planet?
Well, if it turns out to be true, I’d be outraged, furious. I mean, I would be as angry as I was about people selling cigarettes and pretending they don’t know it gives them cancer. It’s the same thing. It’s immoral and incredibly damaging to everybody’s global interests. It’s a betrayal.
Well, it’s pretty clear that they’ve been subverting the political debate for a long time. And you know this better than anybody.
I do. They have lobbied for their interest. I just don’t know if they pushed aside, falsified and turned away from clear information they were given. I’ve read the articles that say that they did and were, and it has to be investigated. That’s appropriate. But I can’t draw a final conclusion about it.