The Real F&#!bois of Fossil Fuel | Crooked Media
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April 22, 2022
The Real F&#!bois of Fossil Fuel

In This Episode

Hot Take is officially BACK! And in their very first episode as part of the Crooked Media network, Amy and Mary reflect on the roots of Earth Day, which was born out of the Civil Rights movement and used as a vehicle for holding Big Oil accountable. Then they share their picks for the biggest villains in the fossil fuel industry today. (Also – Happy F&#k BP Week, everybody!)




Amy Westervelt Welcome to Hot Take the podcast where we explore the climate crisis and all the ways we’re talking and not talking about it. I’m Amy WESTERVELT. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And I’m Mary Annaïse Heglar, and I’m so glad to be back with you in earnest. 


Amy Westervelt Yes, I’m so glad to be back on the air or whatever we call them, the pod waves. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I know. It’s been a minute. 


Amy Westervelt: Yeah, damn near a year. And a lot has happened in that time. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yes, it really has. But we wanted to take this episode to welcome back our old listeners and welcome in our new listeners by talking about the thing that really drives this podcast and to a huge degree, our friendship rage against the fossil fuel machine. 


Amy Westervelt Yep. One of the biggest reasons people stay out of the climate fight is because they’re beset with all this guilt, because the fucking oil companies have framed them for their own ecocide. That’s genocide on a planetary level for those who don’t know. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah, it’s on some Whoever smelt it, dealt it type shit. 


Amy Westervelt But really, it’s whoever denied it, supplied it. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Very mature. 


Amy Westervelt Exactly. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And it’s time to reframe this shit. So without any further ado, I think it’s time. 


Amy Westervelt It’s time to talk about climate. We’re back and it’s Earth Day. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know, you would think for us as climate folks that this would be our happiest day of the year. Like our favorite day of the year. But I actually kind of hate it. 


Amy Westervelt I do, too. I have to say, I start to dreaded as soon as April 1st hits, which is terrible. It’s a bad thing, but it’s true. Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  It’s like a few years ago, someone asked me to write an essay about, like, my childhood memories of Earth Day, and I was, like, completely taken aback. I did not know people had childhood memories of Earth Day. 


Amy Westervelt I definitely don’t. I mean, if I do, they’ve been buried by, like, adult memories of my inbox being pelted by a thousand press releases every Earth Day for. 


Amy Westervelt Like. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. 


Amy Westervelt For like, you know, I don’t know, Amazon’s Earth Day special or whatever. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I know. I know. I mean, it’s kind of nice to get some sales out of it every once in a while, but it really has just turned into this, like, commercialized sort of thing. But actually, the way I think about Earth Day is that it’s very white and very hippie. Earth Day is part of the reason it took me so long to get involved in in the climate movement, because I would go to these like environmental marches, Earth Day marches, and it just looked like, you know, a lot of people who had no problems in the world and I could not relate. 


Amy Westervelt Mary Did it look like a Fish concert? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And it did look like a fish concert. It looked like if I turn my back for 2 seconds, it would have turned into some sort of like mosh pit type of situation. And it was just like, okay, it doesn’t seem like we’re here to fight for anything. It looks like we’re here to like, I don’t know, I have a play date. And so I just. I never got into it. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. It was just like a lot of people who loved whales and hate showers. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Which is a big shame because the actual roots of Earth Day are kind of the opposite of that. It’s, you know, people who were inspired by the civil rights movement and who are really pissed off at oil companies, especially in the wake of this big 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, which at the time was the biggest oil spill. Unfortunately, we’ve outpaced it since then. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know, a couple. Of times, actually, which we’ll get into later in this episode. But yeah, I honestly, it was a big turning point for me when I learned that Earth Day was inspired by the civil rights movement, so it was basically a member of Congress. I was super pissed that there was this huge oil spill off the coast of California, and he organized this something like the Freedom Schools in Mississippi to teach people about, you know, the environment and the dangers of oil. And it’s like, oh, that was something I could absolutely get into. And I hate that it took me that long in my life to figure that out, but at the same time, kind of fuck Earth Day. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah, it’s just. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar It’s a weird day. It’s like cleaning your house one day a year. 


Amy Westervelt It’s true. But I feel like that’s what we’re here to do today. A little bit is Reclaim Earth Day, take it back to its roots and make it about fucking with oil company is. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar My favorite thing. So since we’ve been doing this podcasts just in two years, we have seen the climate conversation change dramatically. And one of my favorite changes is that it seems like people are starting to become more and more aware that the fossil fuel industry and the big oil companies like BP and Shell and Chevron, they’re more than just gas stations. These are huge conglomerate companies. And I want to start today by talking about my favorite, my Climate Bay. 




Amy Westervelt BP. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  If you know, like even a little bit about me, you know that I Hate BP. I mean, I’m recording from here in New Orleans that has like a Very deep hatred of BP. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  For very specific reasons. That started 12 years ago, on April 20th, when BP had the largest oil spill in American history. It killed 11 workers and sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. That was estimates which are all conservative of 4 million barrels of oil from BP’s Macondo well. There was damage all over the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Texas to Mexico, killed a shit ton of birds, matt fish. And I’ll put a whole lot of people out of work and gave a lot of people cancer. They’re still getting cancer to this day. It also kind of gave birth to my favorite hobby, which I call green trolling. Open other names is basically cyberbullying fossil fuel companies and public. At the time, there was way more of it happening in the forms of like T-shirts because Twitter wasn’t that big. But there definitely, definitely was some Twitter trolling going on of BP and. It was amazing. I still want to find out who was behind some of those accounts And, you know, even more than the actual oil. There was the cover up where they put out this chemical dispersant to get rid of the oil. They literally tried to stop the oil gushing out by blasting trash into the well. Do you remember that? I know you do. Oh, man. 


Amy Westervelt  It was there were so there were so many crazy things around that around that spill in particular. All of which is why instead of Earth Day, what do we celebrate it? Hot take, Mary. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Fuck BP. 


Amy Westervelt  That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  April 20th. Every year. I mean, it’s fuck BP every day, but especially on. 


Amy Westervelt  April 20th, which I love to connect with Earth Day, because BP now and really in the wake of the deepwater spill, too, is is kind of the king of greenwashing. They are the top dogs when it comes to pretending to be doing anything at all about climate. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Exactly. And I think, you know, the problems with BP go way back further than the BP oil spill in 2010. So as if the British part of BP doesn’t say at all they were instrumental in colonization. They got their start in 1903. They were instrumental in shipping the oil out of Iran. And, you know, they’ll sometimes post these things about like we’ve been in Singapore since the early 1900s and we’re like, yeah, honey, that’s the problem you know. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  It’s like, so when people say that climate change is the result of colonialism, we’re not fucking around. It really is. Right. You don’t get climate change. You don’t get to dig up all that oil without colonizing people who are moving people from their home. So this idea that like oil companies didn’t figure out until much later that that what they were digging up was hurting people is an absolute lie, because to dig it up, you had to hurt people. There’s no way not to do it. Also, BP has known about climate change for a minute, as I understand. They first publicly acknowledged it in the nineties. 


Amy Westervelt Yes, they did. They did. And I just want to draw attention to one of the most amazing facts about BP. Mary, what was their original name in 1903? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar First, exploitation companies. 


Amy Westervelt  It’s so great. It sounds like we’re we’re making it up. But in fact, no, that’s like they weren’t they weren’t trying to hide it back then. 


Amy Westervelt  I mean, seriously, yeah. They’ve known about climate change since at least the nineties, possibly earlier. I mean, they were. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Most likely. 


Amy Westervelt  Or at least likely earlier. They were members of all the trade associations that were talking about it in the eighties too. So hard to believe that they were there. They were ignorant of it then. They also popularized the concept of the carbon footprint. So BP was real early with those ads that were like, What’s your carbon footprint? 


BP Archival Audio  What size is your carbon footprint? Are the carbon footprints there. 


Whatever it is the whole population of the world make that a very, very big number. How much carbon I produce it? You mean the effect that my living has on the earth in terms of the products they consume? 


[BP music fades out]




Amy Westervelt It’s ridiculous. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Yes, ridiculous. Exactly. Exactly. I think a lot of people, myself included, thought that they invented the concept of the carbon footprint, but they didn’t. Right. 


Amy Westervelt  In fact, no, it was mining company that invented it, but BP definitely put it on the map. You know, it’s like whatever the guy is who actually invented the Tesla versus Elon Musk. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  But it was invented by the fossil fuel industry. 


Amy Westervelt Mining, actually. It was mining. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Like mining coal. Yes. 


Amy Westervelt Yes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Coal. 


Amy Westervelt And I think gold too. But anyway, yeah, mostly coal. So it’s still fossil fuel. That’s true. It’s part of a long tradition of industries trying to put the blame for their problems on individuals. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Mm hmm. 


Amy Westervelt  The sort of the first example of that is the littering thing with with packaging companies. There’s that this like famous ad from the seventies. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Oh, the the crying in air. 


Amy Westervelt They call it the crying Indian ad. The guy in the in the ad is actually Italian, but he’s dressed in like Native American garb and he’s like canoeing through a river with a bunch of trash in it. And then he sort of like looks at the camera and there’s one single tear and and it’s like littering affects us all. And the whole thing is like, Oh, if only you terrible consumers would just pick up your trash. You know, this, this problem would go away when in fact. Right. It’s paid for by the manufacturing companies, the food and beverage companies, the packaging companies who all don’t want us to make them deal with that packaging problem themselves. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Exactly what I find super interesting about BP, too, is that of the oil companies. I’m interested to see if you agree with this. Of the oil companies, they seem like they’re the ones who care the most about what other people think about them. 


Amy Westervelt  Totally. You know. They want to look woke. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Yes. More than anybody else. 


Amy Westervelt  They really do. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Remember their. Remember their Beyond Petroleum campaign. 


Amy Westervelt  Oh, yeah. Yes, I do. It was it’s like it’s actually like a case study now of like how to not market yourself because it was like such total bullshit and they got really skewered for it and then they kind of rolled it back. But I feel like they’re doing it again. I feel like they’re doing Beyond Petroleum 2.0 right now. They actually made this big move in 2020 to call themselves an integrated energy company, not an oil company. And. Oh, boy. Yeah. And they also coined the term low carbon gas to talk about natural Gas. 


Amy Westervelt  Which I’m like, brilliant. If your problem is methane, you want people thinking about carbon. They’re they’re doing this huge, huge push right now to kind of, you know, invest a lot. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Back that up a little bit explain like low carbon gas and methane for folks who don’t know within natural gas. 


Amy Westervelt Yes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Whatever it is, it’s not natural. Spoiler. 


Amy Westervelt  That’s right. It’s well, it’s a fossil fuel. It is methane. And the emissions that come from gas, which are methane emissions, are a potent greenhouse gas. So the big thing with methane is that it’s shorter lived than CO2. So, you know, we have a lot of the warming that’s happening now is actually connected to the gas industry, which is also why a lot of folks are kind of focused on reducing emissions from gas quickly, because it would it would kind of reduce warming and maybe buy us a little bit of time on climate change. So anyway, that’s the greenhouse gas that’s most associated with natural in air quotes, natural gas. And BP has taken to rebranding it as low carbon gas to kind of push this idea that it’s part of a suite of climate solutions. 


So, yeah, they’re they’re doing a they’ve been doing a big rebrand the last couple of years, very, very similar to what they did with Beyond Petroleum. They’re also investing in a bunch of renewables, and genuinely they are investing. But the thing is, like within the oil industry in general, up until a few years ago, none of them were investing more than about 1% of their capital in anything that wasn’t fossil fuels. So now BP is investing like 4% and everybody’s like, whoa, what a huge deal. But it’s like It’s a 4%, you know? Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  And the other let me guess, where is the other 96%. 


Amy Westervelt  In fossil fuels. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Oh, shit son. 


Amy Westervelt  Yeah, that’s wild. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah, that’s wild. So they launch Beyond Petroleum in 2000, which is so beyond petroleum is basically just taking their name, British Petroleum, and making it beyond petroleum. For folks who don’t know what BP stands for by 2010, ten years after that, their investments in fossil fuels were about for 40 billion, and their investments in renewables were 4 billion. And they eventually, like, walked a lot of that out. Right. 




Amy Westervelt Yeah. They actually dumped all their renewables after after deepwater. 


Amy Westervelt  Fact, which was like One of many PR blunders. They were like selling off their solar in the wake of the deepwater spill. So, yes, not a great move. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I just want to underline the fact that when the BP oil spill took place in 2010, BP had publicly acknowledged climate change for 20 years already. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  You know, like I feel like the way we talk about the BP oil spill is that it was just like them cutting corners and oil production, which is true. Yeah. But also the bigger crime is that they knew about climate change while they were digging up that oil. That oil that very much does not want to be dug up. You know, it’s kind of like if the Earth didn’t want you like if the earth was trying to hide something for you, maybe you’ll put it underneath the ocean and maybe you should just keep your ass out the bottom of the ocean. I don’t know. It just seems that. Are you? Yeah. How did you figure that? I don’t understand. And you would think that BP would have learned its lesson, like, okay, maybe we shouldn’t be digging up shit in the ocean. No, no, they didn’t. They still dig up in the ocean all the time. Just last year, right around the anniversary of the BP oil spill, they opened yet another deepwater drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah, they sure did. Yeah, they have four and soon to be five platforms there, just like Deepwater Horizon. And they have learned. Nothing. 


Amy Westervelt I think they have gotten better at greenwashing. They’ve learned that. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yes, they have. And they’ve learned not to try to change their name. 


Amy Westervelt E on top of the fact that they’re still very much in the oil and gas business and they kind of regularly get caught out for, you know, not really investing as much as they sort of talk about investing in renewables and transition and all of these things. They also undercount their emissions. So there’s some new research coming out, especially around their projects outside of the global north. So their oil fields in Iraq, for example, where they particularly are undercounting emissions and in a lot of cases are not even claiming those emissions at all. What they do is like they go into these countries. They form a joint joint partnership with a local oil company there or with the state owned oil company. And then they write all those emissions off as that companies emissions and nothing to do with BP. Oh, yeah. 


Amy Westervelt Fuckin genius. Great. 


Amy Westervelt Amazing. So. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know, figure out a way to do that with my student loans. Just let me think about it for a minute. I’ll come up with something. Keep talking about. 


Amy Westervelt  Yes. So, you know, then that kind of that brings us to BP’s long time involvement in Russia up until like, Like real recently. They were still bragging on their website about being the oil company most invested in Russia. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Which. Which? Are you serious? 


Amy Westervelt  Yeah. Which became embarrassing for them when Putin invaded Ukraine. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. Wait, you would think it would have been embarrassing when he invaded Crimea or when Russia interfered in the election. Like, now. There’s that shit didn’t start happening with Ukraine. Like, no, this wasn’t sudden. 


Amy Westervelt I think that they were proud because they were like, We did better than Exxon here. You know? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Oh, it was about sticking it to Exxon. 


Amy Westervelt Sticking it to Exxon, yes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar So yes, I yeah. I also read that the so their partnership in Russia this very big, you know, oil partnership or whatever. Yes, oil garki. They did it. BP didn’t count the emissions from that partnership as part of their own emissions. Right. And so they like, they did this thing that I’m talking. 


Amy Westervelt About where they’re like, you know, oh, those are rosneft’s emissions, not ours. Wow. Wow. So, you know, they they made this big announcement in in March about how they were pulling out of this partnership and selling off their shares of of Rosneft and all this stuff. And at first, I think a lot of climate people were like, wow, this is great news. But, you know, the reality is it’s not like it’s not like Rosneft was like, okay, we’re going to produce 20% less fossil fuels, you know? 




Amy Westervelt  Right. Or or like BP is like we’re not going to invest that money we took out in other fossil. You know, they’re just going to move it to another fossil fuel project. It’s not like they’re taking out that money and putting it into renewables. So, you know, how how great that really is and how much, you know, applause they deserve for it, I think needs to needs to be like tempered by the fact that this doesn’t actually do anything if your concern is is emissions and climate change. So. Yeah, right. Green assault. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. So. So if you’re, you know, watching MSNBC with your parents and you see a commercial for BP that makes them seem like they’re an algae company is bullshit. 


Amy Westervelt That’s bullshit. Yes, it is. It is. Okay. I want to play you a clip from BP’s CEO, Bernard Looney. This is when he was rolling out their new like we’re green now thing to employees and he was like, boy, we don’t worry. We’re still very much in the oil business. 


Bernard Looney (BP)   This is also the reality that the world’s going to need oil and gas for decades to come. And we’re probably going to be in oil and gas for decades to come because how else is that $8 Billion dividend going to get served? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Fuck your dividends, dude. 


Amy Westervelt Fuck your dividends. It’s true. Okay. Even though it is fuck BP Day, we’re going to talk about some of the other big oil companies that were mad that today. Too, right?. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah BP didn’t get here by itself. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar That’s right. We’re just starting there. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And of course, BP is not the only bad oil company, even though it is fuck BP day today. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Question, is they’re a good oil company because I? 


Amy Westervelt  good question, the answer to that is no. So we’re going to talk about all the other ones, too, right after this break. We’ll be right back. 


[Ad Break]




Amy Westervelt Okay, Mary, I think Shell might be my oil bae. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I think they might be okay. I think they might be. I’ve come. 


Amy Westervelt  Around. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar That makes sense for you. Yeah, I Feel like It’s for you because they have so many court cases. 


Amy Westervelt They have so many court cases. If BP is the oil company that, like, cares the most about what what people think of them, I think Shell is the one that genuinely believes the bullshit that it’s spreading. Like I really think. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yes, I think. That makes Sense. It’s crazy. 


Amy Westervelt So like just to give you an example, they were in this big court case that was decided last year where the Dutch courts said to them, you know what? Actually, because of the commitments that the Netherlands has made to curb emissions and because of the commitments that you shall have publicly made, we are looking at your operations all over the world, and we really think that actually you need to cut emissions by 45% in the next ten years. And Shell immediately appealed that decision, of course, but also went out and started saying, we’re already doing that. This court case is not even necessary because we’re already doing it. 


So again Like BP, Shell has known about climate change for a very long time. There was a great investigation by the Dutch paper, the correspondent, a few years back, very similar to the Exxon new investigation that happened in the U.S. where all these internal documents came out that showed exactly what Shell knew about climate change. And when they made a film about climate change in 1991 called Climate of Concern, which warned global warming is not yet certain, but many think that to wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance 1991. That’s 30 years plus ago. For those of you who can’t do math as quickly as I can. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Like me. Like me. Okay, just drag me. Just drag me. All right. I can’t calculate time zones. I’ll go ahead and admit it. But also, like, what kind of world do you think we would be in right now if we had taken it, if they had taken the right actions in 1991? 


Amy Westervelt Yeah, it’s really crazy because then just a few years after that, they released this report. So Shell actually was one of the first companies in the world to hire futurists. They actually kind of pioneered the whole thing of futurism and and corporations having these people. Yeah. On staff who would be kind of, who could kind of game out. Like here are all of the potential things that might happen in the next 20 to 30 years. Here’s how they would impact our industry. Here’s how we should maybe think about preparing for these things. So they would put out these reports every couple of years around kind of future risk scenarios for Shell. And this one that came out in 1998 totally predicts the climate movement that’s happening now. It’s like there will be these big storms that will that will kick off action and young people in particular will feel betrayed. And there will be class action lawsuits against the oil companies for not acting, even though they had the information to all of that stuff. So even not only were they predicting climate change, but they were predicting like what would happen if they didn’t act on climate change completely accurately. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah, right, right. Right. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar How many of them were women? 


Amy Westervelt Oh, good question. I don’t know. I found one guy that I harass every couple of weeks to talk to me. Still hasn’t yet, but I’m Not going to give up. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar In 1991. I feel like that might have been the year I graduated kindergarten. 


Amy Westervelt Oh, my God. Yikes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And these people. Well, I don’t say that to say, like, I’m not that young. I’m pushing 40. Yeah. So, like. It’s just I’m thinking about how they frame us for like, what’s your carbon footprint? And it’s like, this is what you were doing when I was five. 


Amy Westervelt Well, and at that time, too, like in the nineties, I think especially the early nineties, they really had a particular knowledge of this long before any kind of most other people did. You know, because they like to their big argument right now was like, well, everybody knew like the government and it’s true, the government was doing some research on this stuff around the same time that the oil companies were in the seventies and eighties. Definitely there were some environmental activists who knew what was up as of the early nineties for sure. But like the fact that they were kind of gaming this out in such detail. 




Mary Annaïse Heglar At that point, it’s like. Yeah, okay, everyone maybe knew a little bit, but you guys knew a lot and you Had the power to do something about it. 


Amy Westervelt It. That’s right. But instead what what were they doing in the nineties, Mary? What else were they doing? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I well, they were killing folks in Nigeria. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. Yes, they were killing activists in Nigeria to get at their oil. So. Right. Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar So that was in 1995. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Kind of not cool and cool. Decidedly not cool. Right. So, like this idea that oil companies are just, like, sort of made an oopsy. Emma Climate change, like I was saying earlier, they killed people to get here. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. So the this is the story of the Ogoni nine. They were a group of people who organized peaceful protests against pollution and oil leaks in the Niger Delta that were being caused by just, I mean, ridiculous behavior from the oil companies. This is very common when they go operate in countries that don’t have necessarily like very stringent environmental regulations. I mean, the fucking wheels come off, they just. 


Amy Westervelt  Like Let it rip. And there were, you know, there was a growing sentiment in Nigeria that they you know, these companies were not taking care of the the public resources, that they were impacting communities there in a really negative way, that it wasn’t worth whatever economic development they were supposedly bringing to the country. And they were starting to really gain some traction. And then this group of of nine protesters were brutally murdered by security forces that were later shown to be directly connected with Shell. So, I mean, ever since then, there’s been multiple attempts to try to hold Shell accountable for their role in this. The most recent one was a case that the widows of the Ogoni nine brought, and they just lost their case recently. So still, there’s been no accountability for for those murders. Right. And it comes up, you know, to the credit of many environmental activists, every time Shell tries to, like, say shit about Africa on social media, immediately people are like, oh, really? Let’s talk about Nigeria. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Those are just the the murders we know about. All of these companies were instrumental in the Iraq war. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And several other subsequent wars. And so there’s blood all over all of their hands. And in 1995, they absolutely knew about climate change. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. They did. We know that because they wrote about it. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Yeah, exactly. Kind of left a paper trail. 


Amy Westervelt They left a big paper trail. Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar They’re also in the Gulf of Mexico, too, right? 


Amy Westervelt Yes, they Are. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yes, they are. They the biggest one out there? They are. They are. 


Amy Westervelt Actually. Yeah. They’ve actually edged BP out in the Gulf of Mexico. They have the largest offshore oil platform and they are launching new ones just like BP is. My favorite that you Found recently. 


Amy Westervelt That I was like they did not call it that is called Power Nap. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Power nap. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Who like whose little kid came up with that? 


Amy Westervelt I don’t know. It’s so weird. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I don’t know. 


Amy Westervelt It’s so weird. But in in part to make sure that they have a much better reputation than BP in New Orleans and Louisiana in general. Shell now sponsors Jazz Fest every year in New Orleans. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah Actually, a lot of the oil companies sponsor a lot of different things around New Orleans. And and and they do this and a lot of other places, too, where they have a really big presence. So they try to buy the social license by sponsoring things that people like, like different festivals and museums and exhibits and, and like sort of social good things. And it, it kind of reminds you so much of a company town or a plantation store in a lot of. Way is right. So. Hmm. I recently went to visit the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, which, if you’re ever in Louisiana, I highly recommend going. And not just to support them, but also you will learn a ton. It’s the only plantation that’s open and the stories are told from the perspectives of the enslaved. And so the plantation is along the Mississippi River as a lot of plantations were, because it was easy for transportation. They could use the water for irrigation, etc., etc., especially, you know, the sugar plantations. And when you’re driving toward it, you see huge amounts of fossil fuel infrastructure and it’s like it just replace one, just replace the other. 




Amy Westervelt Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know, because they need to be along the river too for the same sort of for being close to the water. And also, of course, they they want to fuck up the Mississippi River. For some reason, these companies will buy up these place or buy up buy their way into these spaces where they get to seem like they’re there, you know, supporting culture like music and art and like they’re supporting different causes, like, you know, anti-racism or gender equality or trans rights or something like that. They will try to buy that kind of license while also literally killing everyone, but especially killing black and brown people all over the world, including here in Louisiana. And so, folks, if you are working in one of those spaces in like education or prison abolition or whatever, to take some care with the speaking invitations you accept. Yes. You know, like if your event is sponsored by show, maybe it’s a no. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. Yeah. Yeah, because they they do this the whole thing with the the social license to operate is not it’s like they want the public to think of them as a good actor. They want people to think of them as like a positive member of the community, all of those things. But they also want various cultural institutions to be financially dependent on them so that there will be fewer people in a position to criticize them. So you see that in like the education funding in New Orleans. I was talking to someone who is trying to like start an arts organization in New Orleans the other day, and she was like, I swear to God, I have applied to like ten different funders. And every single time I find out that the money traces back to an oil company. So, you know, it’s it’s a very, very insidious in that way. And I think, oh, that I just found this really interesting thing the other day that in the nineties when the oil companies were like, they were practically the sole funder of of public television in the nineties there was like a joke that PBS was actually the Petroleum Broadcasting Service. 


But they also Became the largest funder of arts and culture in the nineties combined. They were spending so much to fund like museums and art exhibits and all of these things that they were the number one funder. So, you know. They don’t fund Things just because they like them. You know, there’s they’re very on the record, actually, about only funding things that that ultimately benefit the bottom line. So, you know, any time you see that, you have to think about, okay, well, how does this help protect their fossil fuel interests or their exactly ability to kind of continue operating the way they they always have? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar They don’t do anything out of the goodness of their heart because they don’t have hearts. 


Amy Westervelt Because they’re not people. I mean, this is 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Actually exactly. 


Amy Westervelt This is a thing, too. So back in the seventies, it was actually Mobil Oil that came up with the whole idea of corporations as people imbued with, you know, opinions and values and morals and ethics and all these things. Right. And this they have done such a good job of leveraging that where I still hear I hear people who very much believe that we need to act on climate, who will say things like, But don’t you think that they deserve a seat at the table? And don’t you think that they need to be you know, we need to include them. And nobody nobody responds well to to, you know, shame and anger and all these things. In fact, this came up actually just earlier this year in the lead up to the the international climate conversation in Glasgow, right before it had had an event where they invited, you know, it was supposed to be their big climate event and they had all of these people coming, activists and experts and whatever. And they invited Shell’s CEO and a bunch of Scottish activists got really mad about this because they were in the process of trying to, you know, stop various oil projects in Scotland. And they were like, you know, what message does this send in the lead up to? This big climate negotiation that you’re sort of pandering to an oil company CEOs. So they invited one of the women from that group to join this panel, and she absolutely gave it to Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. It was a beautiful moment. It was really beautiful. We will play a little bit of that clip here because it’s it’s fun. 




Scottish Activist So, Mr. Van Beurden, I just want to start by saying that you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself for the devastation and for the devastation that you have caused to communities all over the world already. You are responsible for so much death and suffering. I’m not even going to appeal to you to change, because I know that that would be a wasted opportunity. Well, I do want to say every single day that you fail to stop making evil decisions is a day that the death toll of the climate crisis rises. You are one of the most responsible people for this crisis in the world, and it’s, in my view, that makes you one of the most evil people in the world. 


Amy Westervelt  In the aftermath of that. There was actually a huge amount of initial backlash against her for being mean to an oil company. And it was like, okay, look, maybe Ben van Beurden had a bad day. Like no one likes to get shouted at on a stage, but like, he’s the CEO of Shell. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You don’t get to be that powerful and that sensitive at the same fucking. That’s right. Pick one. Pick a struggle. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Okay. So if you’re going to have the power to burn the whole world, we’re going to have the power to embarrass you in public is the fucking least we can do. Speaking of which, one of my favorite things about Shell is like they were one of the first green trolling moments that actually got attention paid to it in the press. So like right after the 2020 election or no, right before the 2020 election, they posted some poll that was like, what are you going to do to solve climate change? And it wasn’t the time, all right? Like America wasn’t in the fucking mood that day. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And they. 


Got trolled to hell and back. Everybody kind of like piled on to it and they actually had to respond to the negative feedback that they got. 


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Mary Annaïse Heglar All right. So let’s talk about another one of your faves, especially. They’re based in California, right? 


Amy Westervelt They sure are. And that is. Chevron. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Why did you say it? Because I’ve been doing all this. 


Amy Westervelt Reporting on Chevron in Ecuador. And every time I interview someone, they’re like, you know, it’s all in Spanish. And then and then they’ll be like, and Chevron. And I’m like, yes. Anyway, so, yes. Chevron in Richmond, California. God, they’re just a real close second to Shell. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know? Mm hmm. They’re. 


Amy Westervelt They are terrible. They. Where do you even begin with Chevron? I think actually, like, they’re really good examples similar to to BP of of just like the horrendous environmental justice record of these companies. You know, the the Chevron in particular, like to like to, like, throw up a black square and say black lives matter. But then they have been, you know, poisoning the people of Richmond for decades. And they they actually are so embedded in that town that they started a newspaper there when all the actual papers shut down. Chevron swooped in and started their own paper. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Oh, fuck. Really? 


Amy Westervelt It’s still going. And. And they the actually, the main purpose of that paper was to. To kind of try to sway public opinion in favor of Chevron expanding their refinery there. And the other thing that they did to try to, like, sweeten the deal on that was they offered the city to give a bunch of money towards various other services. So as part of that deal, the city went for it. They did the expansion. And Chevron put in like close to $10 million to the Richmond Wow! Department. Oh, right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah, right, right.I remember you cracked that story. Yeah. 


Amy Westervelt So it’s actually, like, one of the most overfunded police departments in the country. It has a police force that is like much larger than any other towns its size. And so, you know, I can’t help but think of that every time I see Chevron be like Black Lives Matter You know? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. I remember when you broke that story. You broke that story in our newsletter because Chevron was tweeting all this Black Lives Matter stuff and you were like, wait a minute, I know y’all are up to fucking something. Yeah, because I know you are. 


Amy Westervelt I remember seeing the Proposals For that refinery expansion, and I remember them being like, we’re going to boost the police force. So yeah. Anyway, that’s all documented. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. And a lot of the fossil fuel companies give money to police forces. 


Amy Westervelt They do. They fund a lot of police around the world, actually, in various other countries, too. So definitely not an anti-police industry, You know. 


Amy Westervelt  The other thing that I find really interesting about Chevron is that because they are based in the Bay Area, they feel compelled to talk not only to the public about all of their amazing climate activities, but they’re they have to spend a lot of time and money trying to convince their employees that they’re doing good things in the world. So I was leaked this brochure last year, maybe a year before that. They prepared for their employees about like how to basically how to deal with it when people like give you grief for working for an oil company because their employees were like I can’t tell people where I work because, like, everyone hates us. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Can I guess some of the things that might be in it? 


Amy Westervelt  Yes, please. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  Let me guess. They’re asking people to respond to that type of question with things like, Well, don’t you drive a car? 


Amy Westervelt Yep. That’s in there. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Wait, really?. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah Classic and their big one. And this is this is one that all the oil companies love is, you know, we’re helping to solve poverty in the global south. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Oh, right. 


Amy Westervelt Yes. We are bringing energy to the world. And and then they they have a bunch of stats on like their climate commitments and they oh, this is another thing that they like to bring up a lot is like is basically like, well, we’re a really responsible oil companies. So at least when we’re drilling for oil, like we take all the proper environmental precautions, which I’m like, Hi, meet Ecuador. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Talk to me about Ecuador. Amy Yeah. 




Amy Westervelt So Chevron was embroiled in a lawsuit in Ecuador for, I don’t know, decades. They actually inherited this lawsuit. So Texaco was sued by a group of people in Ecuador for drilling in the Amazon in this very irresponsible way where they would just create these giant pits of oil and water mixed together and then just leave them so there’s what could go wrong. I know it’s insane. Like there’s all of these open pits all over the Ecuadorian Amazon that are filled with oil and then of course, like they don’t, they were unlined. So that seeps into the ground, it seeps into the groundwater, it gets into the river. People, indigenous communities that had lived for years. You know, it’s like in a very kind of simple subsistence way, fishing from the river, getting water from the river, living by the river or whatever, couldn’t do that anymore. So you had this massive migration of people into cities completely destroyed, communities destroyed, like generational knowledge and culture being passed Down. 


Amy Westervelt Like just really. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Back up, back up. So this is like instead of an oil spill is an oil infusion. 


Amy Westervelt Yes, yes, exactly. Exactly. You know, they built pipelines that broke all the time. All kinds of stuff. Real shoddy operation over here. Chevron, real shoddy. So, yeah, they had all these pits and things. And, you know This was Texaco originally. They were working with the Ecuadorian oil company Petroecuador. And a lot of times both Texaco and then Chevron would say, oh, that wasn’t us, that was Petroecuador. But, you know, they trained all of the Petroecuador people. And the way that those like that kind of concession worked in Ecuador was like Texaco ran it. So they were the ones that were kind of dictating everything over the years. And then, yes, Petroecuador, you know, made money off of that and took over more and more of it over the years. But. You know, so this lawsuit centered around a lot of cleanup that needed to happen in the Amazon. Chevron inherits this case from Texaco. They ask for it to be moved to Ecuador. And as part of that, they promise whatever the Ecuadorian courts say we will abide by. So this judge in New York says, okay, fine. Take the case to Ecuador. So they go to Ecuador and about like five or six years into it, there’s a major change in the government of Ecuador and a socialist gets elected who is very pro indigenous rights and and makes it known that he, you know, thinks it’s great that people are suing Chevron. And he thinks that Chevron should pay to clean up all of this stuff. And the math just totally switches for Chevron. And they start going, oh, the Ecuadorian courts are corrupt. You know. 


So they end up losing that case in Ecuador. They’re slapped with initially an $18 billion fine. They get it dropped down to 9 billion. They appeal through all of the courts in Ecuador. The constitutional court there, which is equivalent to the Supreme Court here, says, no, like you like there’s enough documentation you owe this money. And so as that’s all going on, Chevron brings a RICO case against the plaintiffs in Ecuador and they’re attorneys in New York. So they say these attorneys are running a con. They have bribed judges, they have bribed officials, and they have totally set up this case to fleece us in Ecuador. And it’s not fair and we shouldn’t be required to pay this settlement. And the New York judge agrees. He sides with Chevron. And so you end up with this very bizarre situation where a US court totally circumvents the sovereignty of the courts in Ecuador and says, you know, they don’t have to pay. Then as time goes on, like they’re still trying to collect this settlement in other places and Chevron starts to really target the American lawyer who helped the Ecuadorians to bring this case. So this is a guy named Steven Donziger. Yes. Who’s been in the media a lot more recently. I mean, they really he’s not like you know, he he’s not like the perfect victim, I would say. You know, like he’s got some quirks. Steven Donziger. But I mean, they absolutely harassed him, you know, like they they went after his law license. They got a lean on his house. So they basically said, you, Steven Donziger, owe us the legal fees for this RICO case. And and he and he was like, I don’t have any money. And they were like, you have a house, don’t you? So they they basically own his house now. 




Mary Annaïse Heglar And they put him on house arrest and. 


Amy Westervelt Then they they’ve got a fine house arrest. Yes, yes, yes. God damn it. It’s it’s crazy. Crazy. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar It is crazy. I have found it kind of frustrating how the media narrative around this seems to center Donziger and not the people of Ecuador. 


Amy Westervelt Which was very intentional. Chevron, that was a strategy. I have all of the strategy documents on this. It’s crazy. They had this strategy that they called demonize Donziger and they were like, Let’s make this about Donziger. And it was genius because he’s like, you know, kind of a self-important Harvard law guy is like a six for white guy. And every time he’s in and he actually does really try to not make it, you know, centered on him, but he is like a little bit of a narcissist, you know, too. So I think they picked their target knowing exactly what they were doing and very much trying to shift attention away from, you know, indigenous people in the Amazon like small farmers that in the Amazon, these like communities that were totally upended and make it just about him and it worked. I mean, yeah, the narrative is still very much about him. And meanwhile, these friggin oil pits are still there in Ecuador. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And then at the same time, this is the same Chevron that tweeted in defense of democracy after the January six insurrection. 


Amy Westervelt Yes. Yes. So they they also like their big their big argument in all of their and all of their cases right now. So they’re being sued in 24 different cases in the U.S. for, you know, for basically lying about climate change. These are there’s a big batch of these they’re called climate liability cases. And a bunch of cities and states and counties are suing the oil companies, basically saying, look, because of your actions to stop policy on climate, we’re now facing much higher costs for climate adaptation. And you guys should pay some of those costs. That’s that’s the argument that’s being made. Chevron’s attorney. Yeah, very logical. Chevron’s attorney is a First Amendment attorneys and. Ted Boutrous. He works for the same law firm that brought that RICO case against the Ecuadorian people. And he is famous for for being a First Amendment attorney. He is CNN’s First Amendment attorney. He’s like the guy that defended CNN’s right to be in the briefing room with President Trump. He also defended Mary Trump when she was trying to get her book out about Donald Trump and Trump was trying to stop it. He is he gives advice to The New York Times. He advises ProPublica. He advises reveal. Like any legit journalism out that you can think of. Ted Boutrous is probably giving them some some free First Amendment advice, but he’s also Chevron’s attorney, and he’s become kind of the spokesperson for all of the oil companies in these cases. And they’re very much making a free speech argument saying, you know, we have the right to talk about climate however we want. And, you know, we just don’t agree on what kind of action should be taken. Therefore, our speech is political speech, not commercial speech. And that means it’s protected by the First Amendment. So they’re very like involved in sort of crafting that defense for the for the industry. And, yeah, it’s I mean, it’s amazing. Like this guy is getting awards from every, you know, journalism outfit. Meanwhile, he’s also helping Chevron basically build the case that, like, lying about climate is protected speech. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Mm hmm. And that also, you know, makes me think of the another point is that these fossil fuel companies, Chevron included, will give money to media outlets. 


Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah. Big time. Oh, I mean, yeah. Chevron sponsors like everything Politico does on energy. I mean. Yeah. Exxon hires the New York Times brand studio to make ads for it. So to Shell. The American Petroleum Institute hires the Washington Post brand studio to make ads for them. I mean, they’re all up in media junk. Right. Which I’m sorry, has to make it slightly tougher to be critical of this company. You know. 




Mary Annaïse Heglar I mean, I think we’ve seen the evidence of that. Right. Like the media still treats the fossil fuel industry as the status quo in the exact same way that they treat the police narrative as the status quo. And it’s a Problem. 


Amy Westervelt  So, yeah. Yeah. And now Chevron is taking it one step further and actually starting its own newsroom. So They were recently posting jobs for business writer, oil and energy and also looking for an editor in chief and a creative director to start its own internal Chevron. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar  I’m applying I decided in this moment that I’m going to apply. Oh, I just I don’t want the job, clearly, but I want the interview. 


Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah, I know. I was like, can I can I use my I have, like a secret name that I use. What is only for things like, I’m not going to tell you it’s secret. I was like, Oh, maybe I should apply with my secret name. To the newsroom job just to see. Oh, yeah, I’m going to do it. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar What do you mean? Your name? 


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Do it with your real name. That’d be hilarious. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Let’s see what happens. Real name? Fake resume. Let’s see. 


Amy Westervelt Yes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar All right. Let’s get to my oil. Number two. Exxon reason Exxon is my oil bears because they blocked me on Twitter and that is. 


Amy Westervelt  Oh, right. I forgot. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. My love language. I never I didn’t even really like go there yet Exxon I had so much more hate to give you and I feel like we only got started. So Exxon before the BP oil spill in 2010, Exxon held the the the mantle for the biggest oil spill in U.S. history in 1989 with the Exxon Valdez oil spill way up in Alaska, which is an incredibly difficult place to clean up an oil spill. You can guess it didn’t do a super great job, did they, Amy? 


Amy Westervelt No, it’s actually like a case study for like PR people that are doing, you know, like a mass communications degree or trying to learn how to do crisis PR stuff. It’s like, here’s how not to handle a crisis. Like everything they did was. The CEO didn’t like, go there until, you know, pretty late. And then when he did, he was kind of like, whatever.


Mary Annaïse Heglar It’s not that bad. And like. I mean, the BP CEO was kind of like that in 2010. 


Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. I don’t think any people died in this case, but a lot of people got hurt with their livelihoods and like their long term health. And lots of animals and ecosystems were hurt, which of course hurts people because we’re part of the ecosystem. So it was bad. It was it was super bad. If you are active in climate circles in any way, you’re probably aware of the phrase Exxon knew. Amy, what Exxon know and when did they know it? 


Amy Westervelt Yeah, Exxon Knew. It refers to this big exposé that came out in 2015 where a bunch of journalists at InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times and Columbia Journalism School all dug into a bunch of documents that were just hiding out in Exxon’s corporate archive at University of Texas Austin Gaucho Trail. I know. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. It was all these amazing memos from the late seventies all the way through the eighties, early nineties, where scientists who worked for Exxon were telling the executives, Hey, this global warming thing seems pretty bad and might really impact our business, because it’s pretty it seems pretty certain that it’s fossil fuel combustion that’s causing this and this. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know, they started you’re saying. 


Amy Westervelt The late seventies is like the first of them. Yes. And they started to warn them more and more and more. And then and then you kind of start to see Exxon go from funding research on this to being like, let’s just tell everyone this is like total bullshit. Hmm. So, yeah, Exxon. Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar That’s Exxon for. Yeah. The other thing to know about Exxon is Exxon don’t give a fuck. So they really don’t give a quality. Yeah, they don’t. That’s their. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Personality. Yeah. 


Amy Westervelt It is. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Like, they, they really. Exxon is the fuck boy of the fossil fuel companies. 


Amy Westervelt  Aha. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar As recently as 2020, Exxon CEO Darren Woods said that BP and Shell were engaging in a beauty match when they set net zero goals. Now, to be fair, he’s kind of right. You’re right. Kind of, you know, net zero is bullshit for all sorts of reasons. But also like homie the like you’re not even going to try to put a bow on it like a little mascara, something Like you’re just not going to try. 




Amy Westervelt No, he very I mean, he very much an Exxon very much is like, fuck you or Exxon. That’s clear. That’s their jam. Which I almost respect more than like all of the bullshit. It certainly seems to play well with Republicans in Congress. They love to like congratulate Darren Woods for for not feeling like he has to pretend that they’re doing shit on. It, you know? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I mean, I do appreciate the honesty. Unblock me on Twitter, Exxon. Let’s talk about it. They also they have a climate plan, right. Like all of these companies have a climate plan. But responses especially like we’re just not even going to try. 


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. Yeah, they’re climate plan is to, like, work really hard to try not to get sued anymore. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar And they actually, like, they do some crazy shit in the courtroom, right? 


Amy Westervelt They do. They do some crazy shit. So they are also making this free speech argument and they are particularly using a bunch of weirdo laws in Texas to actually try to countersue people. So they have now sued like a bunch of attorneys. Naomi Oreskes is who’s like an expert that gets called in a lot of these cases, the attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, like an attorney in the Bahamas. I mean, they’ve just anyone who has tried to sue them, they have countersued. And the charges basically that in suing them, people are trying to infringe on their free speech rights. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Interesting. 


Amy Westervelt So basically, the cancel culture are just. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Hysterical, again, coming from the company that blocked me. 


Amy Westervelt I know. And they they have a real friend in both Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott in Texas. Those guys are, you know, are constantly falling all over themselves to write briefs on behalf of Exxon to pass laws that will be beneficial to Exxon. They have both come out against these climate liability suits. They show up and write briefs in every single climate liability suit saying that, you know, this is overreach and that it’s infringing on acts on the oil industry’s rights and that, you know, that these cases are trying to get around federal law and all kinds of things. All kinds of things. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Last thing I remember last summer, there was this tape that went viral of exile lobbyist basically admitting that they manipulate the public. I know you love that. 


Amy Westervelt It was so Good. That was actually that was great because it really it actually did prompt quite a bit of action from Congress. You know, it got them going on this climate disinformation investigation. It it actually like Put Exxon and the rest of the industry on the back foot for a minute. You know, they they recovered. But it was hilarious. Like Darren Woods Tried to Be like that guy never really worked for us. And it was like, okay, he was a VP and he worked there for 20 years, you know? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Yeah. Like we have the Internet, dude. It’s on LinkedIn. 


Amy Westervelt  No, what are you talking about? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar So, like, in the video, they were boasting about funding climate denial groups and admitting that they’re carbon like because they were all like, rah rah carbon tax. But that was they were doing that just in name only because they knew that they had already spent decades poisoning the well against the carbon tax and it wouldn’t really work. So they weren’t really supporting climate advocacy and they were boasting about these super close relationships with Joe Manchin. And, yes, everybody’s favorite coal BARON Yeah. 


Amy Westervelt Joe Manchin. Yeah, it was it was just sort of confirmed, like everything that we suspect about Exxon, you know, and the way that they operate. So, yeah, it was it was kind of amazing. 


[Ad Break] 




Mary Annaïse Heglar I want to end on one very beautiful moment of accountability in 2021, when Exxon shareholders got super pissed and kicked out two members of the board and replaced them with climate activists. 


Amy Westervelt Yes, that was. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar That was a fun day. 


Amy Westervelt Really? Something. Yeah. Yeah, that was pretty incredible. And I think we’re going to see more of that. Specifically targeting Exxon, there’s a lot of shareholder activism that’s kind of targeting those guys. So Yeah. 


Amy Westervelt That should be pretty interesting. The other thing that we’re going to see more of is Exxon in court, not just because of their nonsense, but because just a lot of people are taking them to court. They are. They just tried their last big attempt to get rid of this big fraud case against them in Massachusetts. So we will see what the courts come back with there. They have exhausted all of their other efforts to get that case thrown out. This is a case that Mara Healey brought a couple of years ago against Exxon, only for defrauding both consumers and shareholders. They have been gathering evidence for years. Exxon has tried absolutely everything they can to get out of any kind of discovery, because that would mean, you know, access to more documents, executives having to sit for depositions, all kinds of stuff like that. So anyway, that’ll be interesting. And part of the reason that they in particular are in even more lawsuits than everybody else is their role in all of the big industry trade groups. So you have the American Petroleum Institute, you have this thing called IP Orca. I can’t even remember what it stands for. And they’re one of those organizations that like ditched their real name in favor of their acronym a long time ago. But it’s basically this environmental organization that was created by the oil companies to deal with environmental issues. I mean, they they say that it’s like so that they can come together and, like, do all these amazing things to be more environmentally responsible. But basically, it exists to try to coordinate efforts to stop environmental regulation. Exxon is like very, very influential there. And then you have the AFP team, which is the American think is American fuel and petrochemical manufacturers. So that’s like the pipeline guys, the refineries, the petrochemical facilities and all the oil companies are involved in that too, as are the Koch brothers, because their business is mostly in refineries. So those three entities are really responsible for strategizing most of the industry opposition against climate policy. And you see them turn up all over the place. They are drafting sample legislation. They are, you know, sending letters to the White House. I mean, the American Petroleum Institute API, they were contacting the White House in January way before Russia actually invaded Ukraine to say, hey, guys, if Russia invades Ukraine, can you please make the sanctions weak? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar So, like, how do you know that they know. 


Amy Westervelt I mean, they’re always ready. I mean, I’m sure that they have a team of futurists working on this stuff, too, because they seem to have a campaign and a strategy ready to go for any possible world event. COVID, they were right on it. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Creepy. 


Amy Westervelt They were on the COVID things so fast in like February they were asking for things. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar I mean, I guess with COVID that makes like that feels a little less creepy. With Ukraine, it feels super creepy. It’s kind of like your neighbor coming by and saying like, Hey, if you ever leave your door unlocked at night again, you know, just let me know. Wait, what? You know.




Amy Westervelt it’s deeply Creepy. It is very creepy. But that’s the thing. Like they have they Have a lot of power and. Right. And that’s kind of that sort of like brings us back to the the overall point of this episode, which is, you know, if you’re going to celebrate Earth Day and you’re going to spend one day a year or one week a year or whatever is thinking about environmental and climate stuff. You know, focus on these guys as the real orchestrators of a lot of this stuff. And yes, I understand that we all use gas and we all consume things that include fossil fuels and all of those things. And yes, there are things that we can do individually to curb that. However, these companies are not just players within a system. They are very much. Architects of that system. And the idea that they have equal responsibility to us or that we have equal accountability to them is is just not true. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Exactly. Climate change is a crime against humanity, and these are the criminals. And this is just the starting list. There’s a whole lot of other folks involved here. There’s a lot of accomplices. And there are other oil companies like Total. And nobody forgot about you, ConocoPhillips. There’s plenty of others, too. Yeah, it’s just. These are the four Billy goats that we’re focusing on. That’s right. On this episode. But the need to hold these companies accountable is actually a climate solution. You know, I think a lot of people think that when you talk about, you know, how bad the oil companies are and how awful they are, that you’re avoiding talking about solutions. But actually, accountability is a solution. Yeah, right. And that was in the the IPCC, the International Panel on Climate Change, this huge report that came out this week, right? 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. Yeah. It is a solution. Also, it’s you know, I we’ve talked about this a bunch that the only way that you can really craft effective solutions is if you understand the roots of the problem in the first place. And you can’t do that without understanding how this industry operates and how exactly policies have been manipulated. And yes, in the most recent IPCC report, they made it very clear that. The number one blocker to acting on climate is. Vested interests like fossil fuel companies and politics. But really, I mean, they they kind of made it clear that it’s like the vested interests that are mucking with the Politics, too. 


Amy Westervelt So it’s not a lack of technology. It’s not a lack of knowledge. It’s not a lack of of even, you know, consumer will to act on this thing. It is a few people with outsized power who are blocking our ability to act on this problem. Yes, of course, individuals can do things, particularly those of us who are in the top 10% globally. There was some really interesting stuff in this report about that, too, and the responsibilities that we have not only to make, you know, our own choices, but to influence systemic change in a way that, you know, creates better choices for everyone. But make no mistake, we cannot do any of those things if these guys won’t get out of the fuckin way. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar Right. And you don’t need to be all green. Everything. And be like this perfect environmental saint before you can call out Chevron or Shell or Exxon or BP or any of these other groups. That’s right. You don’t need to be perfect. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar They need to go the fuck away. 


Amy Westervelt Right. That’s right. Yeah. Because I mean, we’re all, you know, we’re all restricted by the options available to us. And for the most part, we are not the ones who decided what those options would be. That is not true of Chevron, Shell, Exxon or BP. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You know. Right. Or their trade industry groups like. They could have stopped this shit cold before we were born. 


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And if they wanted to be energy companies, that they could have done that. So, yeah, that’s it. And said, fuck BP day every day. The and every day. That’s right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar That’s it for this week. Reminder that we are weekly now, so look for us in your feeds. Every Friday. 


Amy Westervelt Hot Take is a crooked media production. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar It’s produced by Ray Pain and Mixed and edited by Jools Bradley. Our music is by Vasilis for topless Somali. Cote is our consulting producer and our executive producers are Mariani Hagler, Amy WESTERVELT and Michael Martinez. 


Amy Westervelt Special thanks to Sandy Gerard, Ari Schwartz, Kyle Sugg and Charlotte Landis for production support and to Amelia Mantooth for digital support. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar You can follow the show on Twitter at at Real Hot Take or sign up for our newsletter at Hot Take Podcast and subscribe to Cricket Media’s Video Channel at Slash Cricket Media.