How funds from major fossil fuel corporations help control police departments

A recent investigation from the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its LittleSis database partners breaks down some of the ways that oil producers such as Chevron, Shell, and Wells Fargo are closely intertwined with police departments in cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City. None of this is particularly surprising — whether you've been paying to environmental justice and its disproportionate impact on Black and Brown Americans, or you're just generally aware of corporations who like to bend the laws to their will and enforce a hierarchical structure on the communities around them — but it's still interesting to see spelled out so clearly:

  • Marathon Petroleum, the nation’s largest oil refining company, has a history of environmental pollution that disproportionately impacts the health of Black and Brown communities where their refineries are based. Sine 2000 Marathon has been fined over $1.4 billion for various environmental, consumer, and workplace violations.The company operates 16 refineries around the country, including a notorious 250-acre refinery in a Detroit, Michigan community that is 71% Black. Since 2013 Marathon’s Detroit refinery has received 15 violations from the state environmental regulator for surpassing state and federal emissions limits. In 2019 the refinery leaked a “gasoil” mixture that created a toxic vapor cloud that sent workers to the hospital.Marathon’s Security Coordinator sits on the board of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, the city’s police foundation. Marathon is also listed as a “Commanding Sponsor” of the foundation’s fundraising event “Above & Beyond” and a “Bronze Sponsor” of their “Women in Blue” event.
  • Shell, one of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world and a major global emitter of carbon pollution. It is building a huge ethane cracker plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that some feel could start to turn Appalachia into the next “Cancer Alley” – the nickname for the New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge corridor of Louisiana refineries, where Shell is also a major polluter. Cancer Alley runs through several Black communities that face extremely high rates of pollution and cancer – largely believed to be caused by refining and petrochemical operations.Shell is a “Featured Partner” of the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation and a sponsor of the Houston Police Department’s Mounted Patrol.
  • Valero is the second biggest oil refining company in the US. Its Corpus Christi East refinery – part of the city’s “Refinery Row,” where a slew of refineries sit near predominantly poor, Black, and Brown communities – is a top emitter of benzene. Valero has a board seat on the Corpus Christi Police Foundation’s board of directors, and it is a sponsor of the Houston Police Department’s Mounted Patrol.
  • Hilcorp, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is one of the largest privately-held oil drillers in the country and is best known for buying older oil and gas fields from other producers in order to extract any remaining product. The company is also known for racking up environmental violations. From 2012 to 2015 Hilcorp’s Alaska operation had 25 documented violations of environmental regulations including allowing a gas pipeline on the seafloor to leak methane rather than stop production until a repair was possible. In Ohio, Hilcorp’s drilling practices were blamed for dozens of earthquakes, while in Louisiana they have been responsible for several oil spills and destroyed oyster beds in an already vulnerable coastal community.Hilcorp’s billionaire co-founder and Chairman Jeff Hildebrand has a board seat on the Houston Police Foundation and is a notable attendee of their fundraising events.

More at the link, if you're not already feeling outraged enough at police abuses of power.

Fossil Fuel Industry Pollutes Black & Brown Communities While Propping Up Racist Policing [Gin Armstrong and Derek Seidman / Public Accountability Initiative / Eyes on the Ties / Little Sis]

'Protesters as terrorists': growing number of states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime [Susie Cagle / The Guardian]

Image: Public Domain via PxHere