Jewish World Review April 18, 2001 / 25 Nissan, 5761
BP Amoco: Green or greenbacks?
A LITTLE story in The Wall Street Journal illustrates
that there's just no pleasing some
environmentalists. Appeasement just whets their
appetite for further concessions.
BP Amoco, an evil oil company, is gradually
discovering this the hard way. In 1997, the
company's CEO, Sir John Browne, took a public
position that carbon emissions should be reduced
even though a convincing scientific case had yet to
be made linking global warming to such emissions.
But Sir John didn't stop with mere symbolic
statement, he took action. He caused the company
symbol to be changed from a shield to a sunburst
and adopted the slogan, "Beyond Petroleum." The
company also actually began to reduce its own
emissions and started to promote solar power. It
cut its carbon emissions by 5 percent from 1998
through 2000 and is planning to cut another 5
percent by the end of 2003.
Environmental groups are hardly satisfied with
these developments. They are demanding that, at
its annual meeting, BP take major steps to prove
itself even greener. For example, it must agree to
reduce and eventually phase out its production of
oil and gas -- which is roughly the equivalent of
requiring Krispy Kreme to stop selling doughnuts.
"Let's take the 10 percent emissions reduction
target," wrote one incensed zealot. "It sounds like
quite a nice stride, until you consider that BP
Amoco's direct emissions are almost irrelevant. Its
main role in causing climate change is not from
company emissions, but from the oil and gas it
Greenpeace UK is one of the environmentalist
groups insisting on BP's complete capitulation.
Stephanie Tunmore, climate campaigner for the
organization, says that BP has "built their brand on
how environment-friendly they are. That's given us
the impetus to push them to fulfill the implicit
promises they've made."
Showing further ingratitude for BP's overtures,
Greenpeace "honored" Sir John Browne with an
award for "Best Impression of an
"Behind Browne's portrayal of BP Amoco as a
leader in solar energy," said Greenpeace, "lies a
company with far greater investment in dirty fossil
fuels that are causing global warming."
Earth Day 2000 is also targeting BP for special
harassment, despite its efforts to accommodate. The
group engaged in a campaign to pressure BP to
curtail exploration and drilling for oil along the
coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In a letter to BP, Earth Day said, "Any effort to drill
for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is
simply unacceptable behavior, especially from a
company that has worked for progress in other
areas of environmental concern." Next came the
"As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth
Day," continued the letter, "consumers' concern for
the environment is piqued. We are now prepared to
take that concern into the buying, investing and
working arenas through our Green Pledge
Campaign. We are already organizing consumers,
investors and college students to withhold their
working power from BP should BP fail to take
action. Should you continue to attempt to drill for
oil in the Arctic Refuge, we will ask consumers,
investors and college students to take their business
Regardless of your position on these issues, you've
got to give BP credit for its world-class sense of
humor. As part of its effort to cultivate solar
energy, BP announced that it would install solar
panels in 200 gas stations around the world. This
nearly sent environmentalists over the edge. One
activist lamented: "No one denies the importance of
developing solar energy. Still, solar-powered gas
stations are deeply ironic for the climate protection
movement. BP Amoco hopes you will feel you are
putting 'some sun in your life,' even as you put
greenhouse gases in your tank." Isn't that rich?
In fairness, though, it must be conceded that the
evil BP committed the unforgivable act of merging
with another evil oil company, Amoco Corp. of the
United States. Following the merger, the evil
conglomerate purchased the United States' Atlantic
Richfield Co. and Britain's Burmah Castrol PLC.
The sinister mega corporation has also achieved
record profits, partially as a result of higher oil and
natural-gas prices. After all, isn't producing a profit
a greater sin than producing greenhouse gases in
the eyes of certain radical environmentalists?
Conservatives are often criticized for being
unreasonably resistant to environmental measures.
But what about extreme environmentalists?
Wouldn't it be nice if American environmentalists
just once acknowledged their commitment to this
nation's tradition of capitalism? The
indispensability of economic freedom to political
freedom? The importance of our national
Don't bet on
David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney apracticing in Cape
Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released
exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice
Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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