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Radha Adhar’s Blog

#OccupyBigOil

Radha Adhar

Posted October 7, 2011 in Solving Global Warming

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There are moments in history when the stars line up and people insist on something else entirely and they won’t take no for an answer. Think of the Civil Rights movement, campaigns against child labor or in favor of women’s suffrage. Think of the Arab Spring and the part of that motivated by the thought that autonomy is right and despotism is wrong.

I witnessed this moment for climate and corporate greed last weekend in New York City. Millenials are mad as hell, and we are taking our voices to the streets at Occupy Wall Street. We’re raising our voices because if we don’t do something about climate change now, it will be too late. Our future is in jeopardy and we have to make some changes.

What Big Oil wants, Big Oil gets is the current mentality in Washington. It’s irrefutable. Just look at their track record: they want to make more of their product, so the government allows expansion of dirty and dangerous drilling. They want to be held unaccountable for polluting, so they pay contribute millions to political campaigns.

They don’t consider how their greed affects young Americans, and that is untenable. As a millennial protestor told me last weekend, “The beginning is near”. It is, if we occupy Big Oil.  

It’s time to put an end to subsidies for Big Oil.  Congress hands out $4 billion per year of taxpayer money, our money, to Big Oil. Big Oil companies are the same companies who charge us nearly $4 per gallon at the pump.  They make record profits every quarter and pay $0, zero dollars, nothing, nada in taxes. ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world and beneficiary of these subsidies, made $19 billion in profits in 2009, and received a $156 million refund check from Uncle Sam instead of paying federal taxes. This is what corporate greed looks like.

While the 99 percent of us struggle, Big Oil keeps raking it in and yet they still claim  they simply can’t afford to implement any public health safeguards. Just last month, President Obama chose to delay updating smog safeguards after caving to Big Oil and other special interest groups. These health standards would have saved up to 12,000 lives by 2020 and reduced tens of thousands of children's asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. According to EPA analysis , the smog rule would have created $17 billion in economic benefits in everything from health care savings to job creation in American-made pollution controls.

Unfortunately though, the smog rules would have come at the expense at Big Oil- and we’re supposed to believe they can’t afford it.  Well, we don’t believe it.

Doing something about climate change is inconvenient for big oil, but is a must for the American people. They’re investing time in money in creating doubt and feeding climate denial as we run out of time. It’s time to think for ourselves and to call out the academics who deny climate change because they are funded by Big Oil.  Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was  given over $1,000,000 for research grants over the last ten years from the very companies who stand to benefit from society maintaining the climate status quo.  Soon’s benefactors include ExxonMobil, the Charles G. Koch foundation, the American Petroleum Institute among others.

That’s the REAL Climategate. And that’s why young Americans will not allow Big Oil to decide our future any longer.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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