July 6, 2001
by Susan Sigandres
ExxonMobil. The big oil company everyone around the world
loves to boycott. In other parts of the world, Exxon is called
Esso, a brand name that was also used in the US until 1972.
Watergate was grabbing headlines when Esso changed its name
to Exxon. To correspond with this name change, the advertising
slogan switched from Esso's "Put a tiger in your tank" to
Exxon's "We're changing our name but not our stripes." This
brought about a ubiquitous car sticker - an American flag
with the word "Nixxon" in the Exxon logo script and the tag
line "We're changing our name but not our stripes."
NixxonMobil. The big oil company that somehow manages to
get its name mixed up with the party of Lincoln's political
machinations. The company's name wasn't prominently linked
to the Reagan-Bush Iran/Contra mess, so the Board of Directors
must be really pumped up about the extraordinary comeback
the corporation has made in terms of public awareness - all
thanks to the abundantly generous George W Bush regime.
Boom or Bust, Who does NixxonMobil Trust?
Tricky Dick's own Dick Cheney colluded with every fat cat
in the oil patch to produce a government welfare program for
the energy industry on behalf on the Bush regime. Name any
energy company at all and it was no doubt represented at Cheney's
secret gatherings of the oil cabal in Washington DC. NixxonMobil,
as the biggest Big Oil corporation, is also the party of Lincoln's
biggest welfare queen.
Last year, NixxonMobil earned $16,910,000,000. Call it $17
billion. This is an increase of $8,530,000,000 from 1999,
which we'll round up to an even $9 billion. Welfare Queen
Lee Raymond, NixxonMobil CEO and Chairman, got paid $17.32
million. To make that kind of money, you'd think that Welfare
Queen Lee Raymond devotes every waking moment to NixxonMobil.
So you could be forgiven for wondering how he finds the time
to be a member of the many organizations listed in his profile.
Lee Raymond even belongs to such sentimental favorites as
The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission
and Bilderberg. With all that money in his bank account, you've
also got to wonder if one world is quite enough for Lee Raymond.
Maybe it was because Lee Raymond wasn't around enough that
his 2000 pay was slashed by $8 million from 1999, when he
snagged $25 million. Or maybe it was because he couldn't find
another oil company to swallow last year. Either way, that's
a big pay cut, so Lee Raymond sure is lucky to be getting
a nice juicy tax cut to go along with it, courtesy of George
W. Bush and the party of Lincoln.
Upstream and Downstream All is Black and Viscous - No,
Not the Oil, the Air!
To understand what NixxonMobil is up to, take Deep Throat's
advice: Follow the money. In this case, it's money that Welfare
Queen Lee Raymond is not spending to cut emissions.
Competitors, such as BP Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell, at least
started paying lip service to cutting pollution and taking
responsibility for meeting clean air standards. Not NixxonMobil.
The corporation and its mouthpiece, Lee Raymond, continue
to adamantly maintain that:
Petroleum related emissions have nothing whatsoever
to do with the earth's rising temperatures.
Or in the alternative, cow and plant emissions are
really the cause of dangerous CO2 levels.
Or in the alternative, CO2 emissions are good for
Just how much of a laughingstock is NixxonMobil when it comes
to the environment? Let's put it this way, of all places for
any corporation to get nailed for pollution violations, Texas
under George W Bush, with the most corporate-friendly environmental
laws west of New Jersey, would be the absolute last choice
if you had to guess, right? And you'd be wrong. Even Bush's
administration, which made sure Texas ranked dead last of
the 50 states in containing toxic air and chemical pollution
from industry, had to haul NixxonMobil into court.
Last year alone, NixxonMobil pleaded nolo contendre and paid
$180,000 for water pollution caused by pipeline leaks in Harris
County and $130,000 for clean air violations at its Beaumont
refinery. Naturally, Bush's administration settled these cases
for chump change, but the fact that it felt compelled to go
after NixxonMobil at all speaks volumes about the corporation's
approach to the environment: pollute, deny, litigate, appeal,
settle for pennies per ton of toxic waste emissions into the
air, the water, and/or the land.
It's not that this strategy is different from that of other
corporations, it's the sheer volume of violations - which
are also public health and environmental threats - and the
resulting suits that make NixxonMobil's behavior especially
egregious. We're talking about public health threats from
environmental damage here, in addition to long-term, potentially
disasterous consequences for future generations.
Here are some other recent NixxonMobil goings on:
Alaska, of course, won billions in judgments against
the corporation for the 1996 Valdez spill, which NixxonMobil
is doing its best to avoid paying by getting its high-priced
corporate lawyers to drag out litigation.
Illinois is going after NixxonMobil for violating
a host of provisions in its Environmental Protection Act,
as well as creating a public nuisance and violating a 1998
California teamed up with the US EPA to win an agreement
from NixxonMobil to pay over $1 million for spilling oil into
the Santa Clara River that amounted to a pollution violation
trifecta - the Federal Clean Water Act, the California Water
Code and the Federal Oil Pollution Act.
California also had to take NixxonMobil to court to
get the company to pay over $3 million in emissions fees for
its Torrance refinery - racked up from 1994 to 1999. And,
just two years earlier, NixxonMobil paid $4.8 million for
dumping carcinogens into San Francisco Bay.
New Jersey got a $67,500 settlement payment from NixxonMobil
for violating clean air standards at a refinery in Paulsboro.
The town of Plainview, NY filed suit against NixxonMobil
for a gasoline additive leak that the corporation allegedly
knew about and did nothing to prevent.
Alabama won $87 million in compensatory damages and
$3.4 billion in punitive damages for defrauding the state
of royalties owed for the sale of natural gas produced at
offshore wells - and it's not even a blue state! The corporation
These are just some Exxon-Mobil's extracurricular litigation
activities. All of which are answered by the stock-in-trade
phrase of the accounting industry: "Claims for substantial
amounts have been made against the corporation and certain
of its consolidated subsidiaries in other pending lawsuits,
the outcome of which is not expected to have a materially
adverse effect upon the corporation's operations or financial
condition." $17 billion sure does let NixxonMobil cruise by
Standard Oil by any Other Name Is Still Standard Oil
With a brand name now synonymous with everything that's wrong
about corporations displacing government, you'd think NixxonMobil
would try to engage in some heavy duty lies about how much
it wants to be the oil company of all the people. Fact
is, the corporation has no problem twisting, distorting and
outright lying about science, so why not lie about itself?
But no. All it could come up with is this cheesy web-site
pitch to whatever customers it has left: "Our line of ExxonMobil
brands and services is designed to meet your driving needs
and provide you with the best buying experience in the industry."
Lacking communication skills, if things really start to overheat
for the corporation, as boycotters intend, it will have to
try and escape its brand by changing its name again. From
Standard Oil of New Jersey to Anglo American Oil to Humble
Oil to Esso to Exxon to - whatever's next.
The corporation can go in one of two directions: Pick a new
name that appeals to its remaining customers or pick a name
intended to let the corporation hide from its pollution revisionism,
thereby increasing the odds that more people will be tricked
into buying its products. For option one, appealing to its
existing customer base, NixxonMobil could become:
ReaganMemorial Oil, and go with the tag line, "Put
the gipper in your gears."
Or PatriotForever Oil "We're changing our name but
not our hype."
Or SecondAmendment Oil, "Your guns, our gas for the
best road rage experience in the industry."
The other option, changing its name to something more "green,"
in hopes of fooling the majority of people, will be problematical
for NixxonMobil. The company has already tried to make the
case for pollution with the political left by cleverly paying
for op-ed space on The New York Times editorial page. Oooooh.
That sneaky move sure fooled us all, huh?
The boycott of NixxonMobil clearly has legs. The real barrier
to success is that we are battling against the ultimate arrogance:
Even as it touts its position in the global marketplace, NixxonMobil
flouts the standards of acceptable behavior in the global
community. And let's also keep in this in mind - that neither
the corporation nor Lee Raymond has a good name to lose.