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.
Read the rest

I just learned about the strange history of Exxon-sponsored showtunes

The other day, I retweeted a post from my own band about a collaborative playlist of songs about conspiracy theories. It seemed like a fun promotional exercise, ya know?

A friend of mine responded with something much more surprising: the revelation that Exxon Corporation released an album of showtunes in 1976. I certainly knew that the oil industry pumped money into all kinds of strange avenues of propaganda, but this was not something I had ever heard about or expected. Even more bizarre is that they weren't the only oil company to get into the musical business, either.

There's not a lot of information available about these musicals, but the best I found came from a Tiny Mixtapes blog:

Produced to entertain, inform, and mildly indoctrinate employees at the 1976 Exxon Convention, The Spirit of Achievement is something of a pro-corporate conservative manifesto set to music. As you can guess, it’s not a project steeped in subtlety. Tracks like “America’s Way” gives a full-throated endorsement of laissez-faire economics with lines like “America’s way, the free enterprise way / that’s what got us here today.” Backed by a triumphant slice of sunshine pop, the Singers deliver these hummable slogans with a straight-forward sincerity.

Read the rest

Oil consumption "just fell off a cliff"

CNN reports that the spread of the coronavirus has greatly reduced demand for oil, "as schools and offices close, airlines cancel flights worldwide and a growing number of people hunker down at home."

"This is a sudden, instant demand shock — and the scale of the decline is unprecedented," said Jim Burkhard, vice president and head of oil markets at IHS Markit.

The warning comes ahead of a critical meeting Thursday for OPEC members and allied producers in Vienna. The cartel, is under pressure to announce yet another round of coordinated production cuts, its preferred method of propping up prices.

Coronavirus fears have already driven oil into a bear market, with Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, trading at $52.65 per barrel, more than 23% below their recent peak in early January. US oil is trading at $48.22, nearly 24% below recent highs.

Read the rest

US Navy: By 2050 Arctic Ocean ice will all melt in summers

Many troubling stats about climate change's effect in the North Pole region are tucked into Newsweek's article on the geopolitical gold rush taking place up there. Read the rest

Chronology of the Canadian Conservative government's war on science

No government in Canadian history has been as hostile to science as Stephen Harper's Conservatives. John Dupuis has assembled a brief, brutal chronology of the ways that the Tories have attacked Canadian science. It's no coincidence that this government is so hostile to science, seeing as how its funding and grassroots support come from the tar sands and related Big Oil interests, who want as little known as possible about the impact of their dirty industry on the planet we all share.

This is a brief chronology of the current Conservative Canadian government’s long campaign to undermine evidence-based scientific, environmental and technical decision-making. It is a government that is beholden to big business, particularly big oil, and that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that fundamentally doesn’t believe in science. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting the environment.

As is occasionally my habit, I have pulled together a chronology of sorts. It is a chronology of all the various cuts, insults, muzzlings and cancellations that I’ve been able to dig up. Each of them represents a single shot in the Canadian Conservative war on science. It should be noted that not every item in this chronology, if taken in isolation, is necessarily the end of the world. It’s the accumulated evidence that is so damning.

The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment

(Thanks, John!)

(Image: US Tar Sands exploratory mission, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from beforeitstarts's photostream) Read the rest

How to turn a PR nightmare into a dream

Ever since the Keystone XL Pipeline (originally slated to transport Tar Sand bitumen from Alberta to Nebraska) was stalled, the attention on finding a new delivery route for this tar sand oil has focused around my own neck of the woods, British Columbia. And it seems like every time I open the paper, there's some new story about big oil PR shenanigans [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. All of this, of course, makes you wonder what a big oil PR session actually entails, and whether a memo like the fictitious one below (a.k.a. me having a little fun), is not so far from the truth... Read the rest