5. Massey Energy
As you'll read below, there
are energy companies that are far bigger than
Massey Energy, that throw
around hundreds of millions more in lobbying and have more
But Massey does have something that
has earned it a spot on this list: a track record of
environmental abuse and safety failures that rival the big
players. And it is not afraid to jump into playing politics
either, including buying off a judicial election to ensure a win
At the time of the Upper Big Branch disaster in 2010, Massey was
the fourth largest coal company in the country and the largest
operating in Appalachia. While Upper Big Branch was the most
deadly mining accident in the U.S. in the last 40 years, it was
not the only time Massey's negligence has resulted in
fatalities. Two miners were killed in a fire in
the company's Aracoma Alma Mine in January 2006.
It was later
determined the men lost their lives because of Massey's
"reckless disregard" for safety, according to a report. In fact,
an investigation afterward by the Mine Safety and Health
Administration (MSHA) doled out more than
1,300 citations for
violating safety regulations.
Upper Big Branch and Aracoma were not isolated incidents for
Massey; simply business as usual.
A study done by American University
found that between 2000 and 2010 Massey had the
record of any U.S. coal company. During that decade 54 miners
lost their lives, compared to just six miners who died between
2000 and 2009 at Peabody, the largest coal company in the
country. Massey earned over 62,000 violations during that
decade, 25,000 of which were deemed "significant and
substantial." The company also raked in the most fines at nearly
An investigation ordered by then-governor Joe Manchin after the
Upper Big Branch disaster found Massey's culture of profit over
people was entirely to blame for the loss of 29 lives.
Investigators found that Massey's
modus operandi was the "normalization of deviance." It was not
one single thing that went wrong on April 5, 2010 resulting in
fatalities of such a magnitude.
A whole number of things had to fail
- and did fail on that day. Here is what the investigation
Such total and catastrophic
systemic failures can only be explained in the context of a
culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable, where
deviation became the norm...
The same culture allowed Massey
Energy to use its resources to create a false public image
to mislead the public, community leaders and investors - the
perception that the company exceeded industry safety
And it became acceptable to cast
agencies designed to protect miners as enemies and to make
life difficult for miners who tried to address safety. It is
only in the context of a culture bent on production at the
expense of safety that these obvious deviations from decades
of known safety practices make sense.
Behind every money-hungry CEO and
his corporate machine are public leaders willing to be bought
and regulators willing to bend.
As the Upper Big Branch
As the largest coal producer in
the Appalachian region at the time of the disaster, Massey
Energy used the leverage of the jobs it provided to attempt
to control West Virginia's political system.
Through that control, the
company challenged federal and state oversight agencies,
including MSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the
West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.
Many politicians were afraid to
challenge Massey's supremacy because of the company's superb
ongoing public relations campaign and because CEO Don
Blankenship was willing to spend vast amounts of money to
It's not just the people who work
for Massey who've suffered their abuses; everyone and everything
nearby has been threatened as well.
In an interview for "Living on
Earth" Michael Shnayerson, author of Coal River, explained,
"Massey routinely racks up far,
far more violations than any other coal companies in the
region - and there are some large companies in the region,
like Peabody or Consol. Massey just doesn't seem to care
about the environment, frankly."
In 2008 Massey agreed to pay $20
million after years of Clean Water Act violations.
the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, Ken Ward Jr.
"alleged more than 60,000 days
of violations over a six-year period, or about 10,000 days
of violations per year."
It was thought the record $20
million fine and the threat of more penalties would help Massey
clean up its act, but just the opposite proved true - Massey's
pollution increased after the settlement.
Massey has drawn the ire of many Appalachian residents for its
practice of mountaintop removal mining which uses explosives to
blow the tops of off mountains, dumping the waste into rivers
and streambeds. The sludge waste from the practice is often
stored in makeshift lakes that can leak, contaminating
groundwater, or worse, rupture entirely.
One such containment pond sits just
above the Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, West
"If that lake happens to bust
through its earthen barrier, it can just roll down a
hillside and there's a distinct danger... that the 240
children of the Marsh Fork Elementary School could be
drowned," Shnayerson told "Living on Earth."
In fact Massey had the exact same
thing happen in Kentucky and the spill was roughly 30 times the
magnitude of the Exxon Valdez spill, says Shnayerson.
So how does Massey do it?
Unlike the big oil and gas companies,
Massey has actually spend little on direct lobbying at the
federal level, shelling out just $20,000 on lobbying in 2004 and
little since then. Although, the company does have some overlap
between government and industry.
a 2010 report in the
Washington Post, former Massey CEO Stanley C. Suboleski served
on the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission during
the George W. Bush administration only to return to Massey as a
In all, the Post found,
"nearly a dozen former MSHA
district directors who recently took jobs as executives and
consultants with Massey or Murray Energy" - two companies
with among the worst safety records in the industry.
analysis done by the CRP before
the 2010 midterm elections found that Massey has also been
shuttling money to federal politicians.
In all, people associated with Massey Energy, along with the
company's political action committee, have together contributed
more than $307,000 to federal political candidates since the
1990 election cycle, the Center finds. Of that money, 91 percent
went to Republican candidates.
People and PACs associated with Massey Energy have collectively
donated five-figure sums to three federal-level candidates since
the 1990 election cycle:
failed 2008 Republican U.S. Senate
candidate Jim Gilmore of Virginia ($17,600), Senate Minority
Leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell ($13,550)
failed 1998 Democratic U.S. House candidate James MacCallum
of West Virginia ($13,500)
In 2010 Massey gave $112,700 to federal candidates - all of
which went to Republicans.
In fact, beginning in 2000,
that donations to federal candidates from people or PACs
affiliated with Massey have gone exclusively to Republicans.
Follow the Money, which tracks money in state
politics, Massey Energy has given $344,200 in state elections
from 2003 to 2010, and employees have added another $261,450 -
99 percent of which has gone to Republicans, including climate
denier Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli III.
And during the last decade CEO Don Blankenship himself has given
$60,000 to Republicans and GOP-related organizations at the
federal level. But the CEO is most notorious for
tipping a state
After losing a $50 million lawsuit filed by
Harman Mining which alleged that Massey forced the company out
of business, Massey appealed.
But not for four years. In the
interim, Blankenship funneled $3 million to help elect Brent
Benjamin to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Two
years later Benjamin was the deciding vote on the appeals court
that ruled in Massey's favor.
In December 2010, Blankenship grabbed his golden parachute and
left Massey to a host of lawsuits, many relating to the 2010
disaster. About six months later, the company was acquired by
Alpha Natural Resources for $7.1 billion. ANR has invested
$174,449 so far in the 2012 election - the second highest of any
coal company in the country. Over 90 percent of its money has
gone to Republicans.
ANR spent $600,000 in lobbying
during the 2010 election and it's shelled out nearly $400,000 so
far this year.
Despite being housed under ANR, Massey is still kicking and it
is unclear if the culture of greed will change. Considering its
track record of environmental and human health abuses, critics
are calling for the revocation of Massey's charter.
How much, really, does a company
have to do wrong in order for it to be shut down?
4. Koch Industries
By now you likely already
know about how the billionaire
Koch brothers, Charles and
have their fingers in just about everything, from funding
union-busting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to trying to take
down public education to insider dealings with Iran.
The brothers run one of the largest
privately held companies in the world, Koch Industries, and one
of its key business targets is energy. The company's crude
refineries can process up to 800,000 barrels of oil per day; its
pipelines stretch 4,000 miles, carrying oil, natural gas and
chemicals; and it's in the business of supplying and burning
coal as well - all
under a variety of subsidiaries.
As a privately held company, there is much we don't know about
the Kochs - like exactly how much money their empire pulls in.
Estimates are somewhere around $100 billion in annual revenue
and Forbes estimates the brothers' worth at $43 billion. But
what's crystal clear is that the more we know (and we're
learning every day), the higher this company is going to move in
Let's start with its environmental impact.
Wonk Room estimates
Koch Industries belches 300 million tons of CO2 pollution
"The immense profitability of
their carbon holdings depends on their freedom to pollute
without consequence - a toxic freedom they have sold to the
American public, and particularly the Tea Party faithful
organized by the various Koch front groups, as inherent to
the American dream," writes Brad Johnson on
"If their pollution was fairly
priced in a free-market system such as the cap-and-trade
markets the Koch successfully demonized in Washington (but
failed in their attempt to do so in California), the Kochs
would be facing costs of anywhere from $1 billion to $40
billion a year."
In order to keep the money machine
oiled, the Kochs have worked to slander the EPA and weaken
environmental protections, contort public opinion on the science
behind global warming and roll back regulations.
All of this has been done by lining
the pockets of politicians and lobbyists.
From 1989-2012 CRP
found that more than
$12 million of Koch money went to federal
candidates (90 percent to Republicans), making them the second
highest in that category on our list.
Additionally, from 1998-2011 CRP reports that Koch Industries
spend $59 million on lobbying (fourth highest on our list) and
just this year they have hired 26 lobbyists (also fourth highest
on our list). In 2008 alone they spent $20 million on lobbying.
an investigation by the
Center for Public Integrity,
"Koch's lobbyists are known on
Capitol Hill for maintaining a low profile. There are no
former U.S. Senators or House committee chairmen on the
However, many of Koch's registered
lobbyists on its payroll,
"are Washington insiders with
previous experience as congressional staffers or federal
For instance, Greg Zerzan served as
senior counsel for the House Financial Services Committee and
later as deputy assistant secretary for financial institutions
in the Department of Treasury during the Bush administration.
In 2010 he became a lobbyist for
Koch Industries after a stint at the International Swaps and
When it comes to political campaigns,
CRP reports that,
"Koch is also one of the
Republican Party's most reliable donors. In every election
cycle since 2000, people and political action committees
associated with the company have donated at least 83 percent
of their cash to Republican candidates and committees."
In 2010, the number was more than 92
percent for Republicans. In that election, Koch Industries gave
more than $1.6 million to federal candidates or their PACs.
Their darling that year was Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, who sits on
the Energy and Commerce committee, raking in $79,500. Pompeo's
voting record on energy is in keeping with someone who's
received large donations from the energy industry. This year, he
voted in favor of barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse
gases as well as for opening up the Outer Continental Shelf to
And now he's grandstanding against
Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, on the Banking and
Appropriation committees received $41,050 and has also voted
against enforcing limits on CO2 emission limits in 2009 and was
in favor of authorizing construction of new oil refineries in
2005. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, got less money ($20,000) but put it
to good use. Hatch has been vocal in
his support of tax breaks
for oil companies.
Likewise, he generally supports
legislation that would benefit the oil and gas industries, for
example voting in favor of drilling in the Outer Continental
Shelf (2011), opposing EPA regulations (2011), and supporting
the elimination of the Kyoto Accords in 2000.
In December 2006, the Campaign for
America's Future rated Hatch's support for energy independence
at a mere 17 percent.
The highest paid Democrat on
the roster was Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln with
Representative Mike Ross, who sits on the Energy and
Commerce Committee, got the second highest amount for a
Democrat at $10,000.
As you'll read later, Arkansas is
key to the Kochs' dirty business.
The brothers haven't been sitting back in the 2012 election
Already Koch money has tipped,
Mike Pompeo $27,500
Scott Brown, R-Mass.,
Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.,
...among others. Outlays to federal
candidates for 2012 has already hit $433,750 and less than
$17,000 of that has gone to Democrats.
Senate Democrat Joe Manchin of
coal-friendly West Virginia got $5,000.
And that's not all.
A report from the Center for American
Progress Action Fund reveals more about the 2010 election:
The Kochs have contributed
significantly to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In fact, they are the
single-largest oil and gas donor to members of the
committee, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee's 31
Republicans and $32,000 to five Democrats.
Tim Phillips, the head of
Americans for Prosperity, even co-authored an op-ed with
chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), detailing how Congress could
stop the EPA from ensuring a cleaner environment.
Upton, who received $10,000 that
year, made Koch proud.
The Los Angeles Times
In recent months the congressman
has made a point of publicly aligning himself with the
Koch-backed advocacy group, calling for an end to the "EPA
Last week the chairman released
a draft of a bill that would strip the EPA of its ability to
curb carbon emissions. The legislation is in line with the
Kochs' long-advocated stance that the federal government
should have a minimal role in regulating business.
The Kochs' oil refineries and
chemical plants stand to pay millions to reduce air
pollution under currently proposed EPA regulations.
The Kochs are also active at the
state level fighting environmental initiatives.
Their subsidiary Flint Hills
Resources spent $1 million for Prop 23, a (failed) attempt to
block a clean energy law in California. And they've donated to
gubernatorial campaigns, including funding climate denier Rick
Perry to the tune of $50,000.
While ExxonMobil has come under scrutiny for its work funding
the anti-science climate denying movement, the Kochs have been
just as diligent.
A report from Greenpeace revealed that from
1997 to 2008, the Kochs helped fuel bogus think tanks,
organizations and "experts" with $48.5 million.
"In 2009, they contributed over
$6.4 million dollars to some 40 organizations that continue
to deny the scientific consensus on global warming while
attempting to slow or block policies to solve the climate
Here is what the report also found:
Of the eleven freshman senators
who publicly question settled climate science, ten received
funding from Koch Industries in 2010, and eight of them
signed the Americans for Prosperity "No Climate Tax Pledge"
to obstruct policy solutions to climate change.
Of the 38
freshman Representatives who deny climate science, 22
received Koch PAC funding in 2010, and all 38 signed the AFP
So, what has the impact of this been
on communities across the U.S.? Pretty horrific.
Brave New Films recently released a
new video as part of its Koch Brothers Exposed project that puts
a human face on the way the Kochs do business.
At least 11
people from just 15 homes on Penn Road in Crossett, Arkansas
have died from cancer, and others in the neighborhood are sick.
The cause of their deaths and
illnesses is believed to be a toxic open sewer filled with
millions of gallons of wastewater that runs by their homes. The
source of the wastewater is Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia
Pacific. So far the EPA has done nothing to address the issue
even though it is a violation of the Clean Water Act.
Remember, those congress members
from Arkansas the Kochs have been funneling money to?
The people of Crossett are among a long list of victims. Two
17-year-olds were killed in 1996 in Texas when a leaky pipeline
caused their truck to explode as they were going to seek help.
The company knew the pipeline was faulty, but didn't bother to
Koch Industries has long been known for causing environmental
harm. In 2000, over 300 spills they were responsible for in six
states finally caught up with them, resulting in a $30 million
But Koch Industries often manages to get away with
paying chump change and getting a slap on the wrist.
As Lee Fang
Koch funneled large amounts of
donations into electing George Bush in 2000 (even sending
Koch-linked lobbyists to help disrupt the Florida recount).
At the time, Koch Industries
faced a 97-count federal indictment charging it with
concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene,
known to cause leukemia, from its refinery in Corpus
When Bush took office, his
Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges and settled the
case for a small amount of money.
And in Minnesota, Bloomberg Markets
"The company used fire hydrants
to pump more than a million gallons of wastewater
contaminated with ammonia out of the ground. Koch also
increased its dumping of wastewater on weekends when it
didn't monitor discharges, circumventing the reporting
requirement of its permit, the EPA said.
Koch also admitted that it
negligently released between 200,000 gallons and 600,000
gallons of aviation fuel into a nearby wetland."
The list goes on, but you get the
idea. There is a blatant disregard for human life, the health of
the environment, and the air and water we all need to survive.
And Koch Industries is able to get
away with it because of its Yes Men in Washington, who are
greasing the wheels of their greedy machine.
No list of the worst energy
companies would be complete without British Petroleum.
The company catapulted into the
national headlines in 2010 after the
Deepwater Horizon drilling
rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and
causing a months-long gusher that would dump 200 million gallons
Just this fall, a comprehensive
report by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy
Management Regulation and Enforcement placed the blamed for the
disaster clearly on the shoulders of BP, which managed the Macondo well. (Rig owner Transocean and contractor Halliburton
received a small share of the blame.)
The report concluded that BP
violated federal regulations, ignored crucial warnings, was
inattentive to safety and made bad decisions during the
cementing of the well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico...
In the report, the primary cause of
the disaster was identified - again - as the failure of the
cement seal in the well.
While it was Halliburton's job to
mix and test the cement, BP had the final word and made a series
of decisions that saved money but increased risk and may have
contributed to the cement's failure, the panel said.
The report said BP, and in some cases its contractors, violated
seven federal regulations at the time of the disaster. ...
In the report's 57 findings, only one person - BP engineer Mark Hafle - is mentioned by name. It said Hafle failed to
investigate or resolve anomalies detected during the cementing
and did not run a test that evaluates the quality of the cement
job. Hafle still works for BP.
Not only was BP largely responsible for the largest spill in
U.S. history, but its actions afterward were terrible. In the
weeks and months that followed, the company was accused of
stonewalling journalists, covering up evidence, providing unsafe
working conditions for cleanup crews, and remarkably - in the
case of the company's CEO Tony Hayward -
complaining about being
inconvenienced by the disaster.
They also tried to get rid of the oil by dumping millions of
gallons of toxic dispersants into the water, further damaging
the ecosystem and potentially the health of cleanup workers.
While oil-soaked gulf creatures - from turtles to birds to
dolphins - made the news after the spill, the ecological impacts
will take years and likely decades to fully understand.
"Oil fouled 35 percent of the
U.S. Gulf Coast's 2,625 kilometers of shoreline before the spill
Also affected were critical wetland habitat and
fisheries crucial to the local economy.
The economic loss has been clocked at $40 billion or more.
As Brad Jacobson
reported for AlterNet, large numbers of health
problems such as respiratory, dermatologic, ocular and
neurological issues are being reported and are,
"consistent with exposure to
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic
compounds, chemicals in crude oil and dispersants."
To make matters worse, after the BP
it was revealed that drilling regulators were found to be
accepting gifts from, partying with, taking drugs with, and even
having sex with employees of the oil and gas companies they were
suppose to be overseeing.
As is the case with Massey, the Gulf disaster
was no isolated
ABC reported last year that,
"In two separate disasters prior
to the Gulf oil rig explosion, 30 BP workers have been
killed, and more than 200 seriously injured."
BP is also responsible for the
Prudhoe Bay Spill in 2006, which leaked 200,000 gallons of crude
onto Alaska's North Slope. An ABC story revealed,
"In the last five years,
investigators found, BP has admitted to breaking U.S.
environmental and safety laws and committing outright fraud.
BP paid $373 million in fines to avoid prosecution."
It gets worse.
BP's safety violations far
outstrip its fellow oil companies. According to the Center
for Public Integrity, in the last three years, BP refineries
in Ohio and Texas have accounted for 97 percent of the
"egregious, willful" violations handed out by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ...
Shockingly, after the comprehensive
government report was released this fall nabbing BP as the
spill's culprit, the company's stock actually went up. Yes, up.
And now BP has just been given the
go-ahead from federal regulators to
begin deepwater drilling
again in the Gulf - this time 1,000 feet deeper.
How does BP manage to not just stay in business, but to thrive?
It maintains its empire, consisting of refining 2.8 billion
barrels of oil each day, as well as operating 16,000 gas
stations across the U.S., and increasing its share of natural
gas production, with help from friends in Congress.
From 1989-2012 CRP reported that
BP's contributions to federal candidates were over $6.3 million
(70 percent going to Republicans), the fourth highest on our
list. The company cranked up the lobbying efforts, too, spending
$70 million on lobbying between 1998-2011, according to CRP,
making it third highest on our list in that category.
But BP stole the show with lobbyists
hired. This year its total is 47, the highest of any company in
the oil and gas sector.
According to CRP,
"Its lobbying focuses on tax
incentives for oil and gas production, opposing mandatory
limits on greenhouse gas emissions and following U.S. trade
relations and policy in the Middle East."
As was revealed after the spill, BP
has some serious revolving-door issues.
AP noted last year, former
Minerals Management Service senior official Jim Grant left his
government position as chief of staff for the Gulf of Mexico
region to become regulatory and advocacy manager at BP, one of
the companies his former agency regulated. Reportedly, Sylvia
Baca also moved from management positions at BP to a position in
the federal government - not once, but twice (under Clinton and
As Project on Government Oversight
investigator Mandy Smithberger told the AP, the revolving door
between the Minerals Management Service and energy companies is
a chronic issue.
"To say that MMS has had a
revolving door problem doesn't even begin to describe how
profoundly this agency has entangled itself with industry,"
"The revolving door has spun so
readily in this case that the lines between the regulators
and the regulated are now virtually nonexistent."
Not surprisingly, its top dogs in
Congress were from oil and gas states.
In 2010 here were its
Lisa Murkowski, I-Alaska,
Jeffrey M Landry,
R-Louisiana, House; $4,800
John Culberson, R-Texas,
Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas,
Murkowski, a ranking member of the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, got Lincoln (also
a darling of Koch) to jump ship from Democrats and side with
Republicans in a effort to block the EPA's authority to regulate
greenhouse gas emissions, as
Politico reported in 2010.
Murkowski is not known for being a
friend of the environment.
"In Congress, Alaska Republican
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has emerged as the leading - and most
canny - threat to the EPA."
Although Murkowski admits that
global warming is a real threat - and is threatening her state,
too - she's done little to stop it.
As Kate Sheppard wrote,
"It's become increasingly
difficult to distinguish her actions from those of her
2. Exxon Mobil
Oil giants Exxon and Mobil,
which can trace their origins back to
Oil, merged in 1999 and their partnership has made them one of
the largest publicly traded companies in the world.
Today Exxon Mobil produces 6 million
barrels of oil a day, supplies 40,000 gas stations in 100
countries and is moving quickly into shale gas, as well.
All this means it has an awful lot of money to throw around
(including paying CEO Rex Tillerson $21.5 million last year).
According to CRP, from 1998 to 2012 the company dished out $12.3
million to federal candidates, the highest on our list, with 85
percent going to Republicans. Exxon Mobil wasn't shy about its
lobbying efforts either, spending $174 million from 1998 to 2011
- twice that of Chevron, the second highest on our list.
With 34 lobbyists hired this year, Exxon Mobil can do a lot to
influence things in Washington. Exxon Mobil's VP of Government
Relations since 2001, Theresa M. Fariello, is a former
Occidental Petroleum lobbyist who served as deputy assistant
secretary for international affairs in the Department of Energy
between her two lobbying positions.
And Philip Cooney joined Exxon as a
lobbyist shortly after leaving his position as a chief of staff
with the Council on Environmental Quality. Cooney has also
worked as a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute.
In Congress, Exxon Mobil has a few favorites.
It's kicked off the 2012 election
season by giving John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, the Big Oil
workhouse, $17,000. Also a favorite of Chevron, Barrasso
introduced legislation earlier this year to curb what he calls
"job-crushing" carbon regulations and he has also supported
opening up Alaska's Coastal Plain and the Outer Continental
This year Exxon Mobil has also given
John Boehner, R-Ohio
John Cornyn, R-Texas
Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky
In the 2010 election, Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, was Exxon Mobil's
Blunt has earned a reputation for
accepting money from the
oil industry - a reputation that his opponents used against him
during the 2010 campaign. Indeed, Blunt
voted against enforcing
CO2 limits in 2009, against incentives for renewable energy in
2008 and again in 2010, and in favor of barring greenhouse gases
from the Clean Air Act rules in 2009.
In December 2006, the Campaign for
America's Future rated Blunt's support for energy independence
at 0 percent.
Exxon Mobil also plays at the state level. In order to protect
its gas interests, the company bought XTO Energy in 2009 to get
Marcellus Shale game, and added Philips Resources and
TWP Inc recently.
Not surprisingly, Exxon Mobil gave
$10,000 to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in 2010. And in
Colorado Exxon Mobil and Chevron teamed up to
spend $1 million
to oppose a severance tax on natural gas.
Politicians and lobbyists aren't the only ones that Exxon Mobil
has been giving money to. The company is notorious for trying to
block action on an international climate treaty and fueling the
anti-science rhetoric around climate change.
For many years,
Exxon Mobil was the largesse behind the deniers.
All the big, right-wing think tanks
that have been putting the hot air in the climate denial
movement have gotten money from Exxon Mobil:
$2 million went to the
Competitive Enterprise Institute
$3 million to the American
$2.4 million to the Center
for Strategic and International Studies
$1 million to the Annapolis
Center for Science-Based Public Policy
$1 million to Atlas Economic
$1.2 million to Frontiers of
$680,000 to the Heritage
Exxon Mobil is also involved with
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), having given it
more than $1.4 million.
ALEC is quite dangerous, as Sourcewatch
Through ALEC, behind closed
doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to
the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.
Along with legislators, corporations have membership in
Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote
with legislators to approve "model" bills. They have their own corporate
governing board which meets jointly with the legislative
overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those
proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the
land as their own brilliant ideas and important public
policy innovations - without disclosing that corporations
crafted and voted on the bills.
ALEC boasts that it has over
1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every
year, with one in every five of them enacted into law.
ALEC is a darling of the oil and gas
companies, with Chevron, BP, Koch and Exxon Mobil all taking
part. Exxon Mobil's government affairs manager Randy Smith
serves on ALEC's "private enterprise" board (and he also sits on
Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission).
Along with its efforts at
climate denialism, which were totaled
at $16 million in 2007, Exxon Mobil also has some ugly stains on
The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 dumped 11 million gallons of
crude into Alaska's beautiful Prince William Sound.
Environment News Service
that the disaster affected 10,000 square miles of coastline, as
"fouling a national forest, two
national parks, two national wildlife refuges, five state
parks, four state critical habitat areas, one state game
sanctuary, and many ancestral lands for Alaska natives."
But that's not all.
reported in 2009 that Exxon
Mobil was found to have polluted New York City's groundwater
with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MBTE), a gasoline additive:
"The city contended Exxon knew
that gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether would
contaminate ground water if it leaked from the underground
storage tanks at its retail stations."
The tab for damages came to $105
On the human rights front, ExxonMobil has faced
claims that it hired members of the Indonesian military to
protect the company's facilities in the country.
Indonesians accuse the company of
murder, rape and destruction.
The top spot on our list for
the worst energy company this year goes to Chevron.
The company has indeed moved quite a
large amount of cash through Washington and its business
practices have resulted in an incredible loss of life. Much of
it just happened out of the country, so many in the U.S. may
have missed Chevron's gross abuses.
In relation to other energy companies, Chevron is big - it's the
second largest U.S. oil company and the third largest U.S.
corporation overall. Its mammoth size is the result of gobbling
up a lot of other companies along the way. It started off as
Pacific Coast Oil Company and then became Standard Oil and then
Chevron when it swallowed up Gulf Oil in 1984. In 2001 Chevron
merged with Texaco, and then in 2005 acquired Unocal.
As the price of oil climbs, Chevron continues to make a killing.
Antonia Juhasz, writing in "The True
Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report," found that the
company's 2010 profits of $19 billion were nearly double 2009
profits and its revenue shot up to $200 billion.
Antonia Juhasz on...
"The True Cost of Chevron - An Alternative
As most Americans struggle through
the economic downturn, Chevron's CEO John Watson took home a
cool $16.3 million in 2010 - even as Juhasz writes,
"Chevron continued to shrink its
number of employees and holdings."
The company has tried to change its
oil and gas image with aggressive ad campaigns about its
investments in renewable energy, but in truth, 95 percent of its
revenue still comes from oil and gas.
That might explain why,
according to Tyson Slocum, Chevron doled out $500,000 to the U.S. Chamber of
"which is leading the fight to demonize pending EPA
rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Chevron's also trying to pad its profits by contributing largely
From 1989-2012 CRP reported that Chevron's
contributions to federal candidates were over $11.9 billion -
the third highest on our list (although nearly tied for second
with Koch), with 75 percent going to Republicans.
CRP has calculated that Chevron spent over $779,000 in 2010
(with only $152,480 going to Democrats).
These were some of its top dogs:
Carly Fiorina, R-Calif.,
Davide Vitter, R-Louisiana,
Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa,
Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah,
Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas,
William Flores, R-Texas,
Lisa Murkowski. I-Alaska,
Kevin Brady, R-Texas, House;
Dan Boren, D-Oklahoma,
So far in 2012 it spent over
$167,000, with $23,500 going to Senator John A Barrasso,
R-Wyoming, and $11,000 going to Rep. William Flores, R-Texas.
"Why does Chevron bother
spending this kind of money on the political system?"
"Because, dollar for dollar,
nothing provides a better financial return than investing in
politicians. With environmentalists pushing to hold oil
companies accountable for their pollution, corporations like
Chevron would be forced to spend millions of dollars to make
their oil and natural gas drilling operations and oil
refineries cleaner and safer.
Sure, doing so would improve the
standard of living for millions of Americans and help ensure
we all have access to cleaner air and water - but Chevron's
political activities clearly show the company's priority is
profit - not saving the planet."
When it comes to lobbying, Chevron
isn't holding back either. Since 1998, the company has spent $85
million on lobbyists, second highest on our list.
Already this year it's spent nearly
$5 million on hiring 39 lobbyists - also the second highest
number of lobbyist on our list. And
revolving door issues
Lisa Barry served as a staffer for former Republican
House Member Silvio Conte, deputy assistant to the U.S. Trade
Representative, and deputy assistant secretary in the Department
of Commerce before becoming an executive at several major
corporations and, most recently, vice president of governmental
affairs at Chevron Corp.
Lobbying firm Ogilvy Government Relations, which lobbies on
behalf of Chevron, employs several individuals who have ties to
For instance, John J. O'Neill worked
for two years as tax and pension counsel for the Senate Finance
Committee and did a brief stint in 2007 as policy director for
former Republican Congressman Trent Lott. Prior to his time in the public
sector, O'Neill worked for lobbying firm Davis & Harman.
Ogilvy employee Drew Maloney worked for lobbying firm Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh before becoming legislative director for
Republican Congressmen Roger Wicker and Ed Bryant and an
assistant to then House Majority Whip Tom DeLay.
So, with all these lobbyists, what are Chevron's big political
As expected it's pushing for more of the "drill, baby drill"
we've seen over the years - so anything having to do with
opening up new oil leases and exploration, on- and off-shore,
including in the Gulf and Alaska. Of course it'll be teaming up
with the Chamber and the rest of Big Oil to prevent the EPA from
doing its job, especially when it comes to greenhouse gas
And it looks like Chevron will be relying on its man in Wyoming,
John Barrasso, who's been its largest recipient this year.
Barrasso kicked off 2011 by introducing the Defending America's
Affordable Energy and Jobs Act, which is designed to strip the
EPA's authority in regulating greenhouse gas pollution.
He told Environment News Service,
"I will do whatever it takes to
ensure that Washington doesn't impose cap-and-trade policies
in any form."
Barrasso's willing to sacrifice the
health of the country in order to make sure Chevron and its Big
Oil brotherhood don't have to clean up their acts.
David Doniger of the Natural
Resources Defense Council ridiculed the bill and Environmental
reported that Doniger said the,
"bill would give the biggest
polluters, such as power plants that emit 2.4 billion tons
of CO2 each year, a free pass for unlimited pollution."
In case you thought Chevron was all
oil - it's definitely not.
"Chevron has acquired nearly
five million net acres of shale gas assets in the United
States, Canada, Poland and Romania," according to George
Kirkland, Chevron's vice chairman.
The company has been making
aggressive strides to leverage its power in the Marcellus region
of the eastern U.S. where oil and gas companies are hoping to
have a drilling field day.
At the beginning of 2011 Chevron picked up Atlas Energy for $4.3
billion, a company with major holdings in the Marcellus. Then in
May it announced that it had picked up an additional 228,000
leasehold acres in the Marcellus from Chief Oil and Gas.
You better believe that Chevron will be doing all it can to make
sure that any attempts to ban or even regulate fracking in the
Marcellus are quashed.
Desmog Blog fingered Chevron as one of several big oil
companies fronting an astroturf group called Energy in Depth,
which alleged to be a collection of,
"small, independent oil and
natural gas producers" but Brendan DeMelle
has found exists
courtesy of Big Oil.
As DeMelle writes,
"EID seems to attack
everyone who attempts to investigate the significant
problems posed by hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas
industry practices that have been shown to threaten public
health and water quality across America."
And even though Chevron hasn't spent
as much money as Exxon Mobil (although it has come close), it
sealed the top spot on this list because of its corporate
irresponsibility, which seems strangely out of the Exxon
Chevron's malfeasance is long, including
a spill right now off
the coast of Brazil which dumped over 110,000 gallons of oil
into the Atlantic. But
Rainforest Action Network has more about
Around the world, over and over again, Chevron's outdated
practices and policies have consistently violated human rights,
damaged human health, and worsened global warming.
In Kazakhstan, Chevron has contaminated land and water resources
and impaired the health of local residents. In Canada's Alberta
region, Chevron is invested in tar sands - one of the most
environmentally damaging projects on the planet.
In the Niger Delta, Chevron is
complicit in human rights violations committed by security
forces against local people. In the Philippines, regular oil
leaks and spills have sickened Manila residents. Chevron's
operations in Burma are providing a financial lifeline to the
Burmese military regime - known for its appalling human rights
In Western Australia, Chevron's
liquefied natural gas facility threatens the health of local
communities and fragile humpback whale and turtle populations.
But Chevron's worst legacy may be in Ecuador, where Texaco (now
part of Chevron) spent 30 years decimating the ecologically rich
Amazon rainforest and the many indigenous communities there.
As one of the campaigns seeking justice for Ecuadoreans
Unlike the Exxon Valdez disaster
that spilled over a billion gallons of crude during a one
time cataclysmic event, Texaco's oil extraction system in
Ecuador was designed, built, and operated on the cheap using
substandard technology from the outset.
This led to extreme,
systematic pollution and exposure to toxins from multiple
sources on a daily basis for almost three decades.
In a rainforest area roughly three
times the size of Manhattan, Texaco carved out 350 oil wells,
and upon leaving the country in 1992, left behind some 1,000
open toxic waste pits.
Many of these pits leak into the
water table or overflow in heavy rains, polluting rivers and
streams that 30,000 people depend on for drinking, cooking,
bathing and fishing. Texaco also dumped more than 18 billion
gallons of toxic and highly saline "formation waters," a
byproduct of the drilling process, into the rivers of the
At the height of Texaco's
operations, the company was dumping an estimated 4 million
gallons of formation waters per day, a practice outlawed in
major US oil producing states like Louisiana, Texas, and
California decades before the company began operations in
Ecuador in 1967.
By handling its toxic waste in
Ecuador in ways that were illegal in its home country, Texaco
saved an estimated $3 per barrel of oil produced.
Rainforest Action Network
"1,400 Ecuadoreans have already
died as a result of the contamination in the Amazon, and
some 30,000 more are at risk."
historic trial earlier this
year ("the first time indigenous people have forced a
multinational corporation to stand trial in their own country
for violating their human rights"), the company was found liable
for over $8 billion, but Chevron is still
trying to escape
And just for comparison, the company
has already made nearly $22 billion in profits so far this year.
Chevron's dirty business practices may not be washing up on our
shores (yet), but they're still sickening.