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Susan Casey-Lefkowitz’s Blog

Dealing with Big Oil Temper Tantrums as Companies Move Away from Tar Sands

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

Posted December 16, 2011

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I’m a banana-a-day kind of person and this morning my Chiquita tasted extra sweet knowing that the company has joined thousands of others who are speaking out against tar sands oil. Yesterday, Chiquita publicly confirmed that they want to see their fuel come from another source than the higher-carbon and more polluting Canadian tar sands. Business groups in the Canadian province of Alberta are already hitting back, calling for a boycott of Chiquita. But yet another call for a boycott just because a company is doing the right thing to fight climate change comes across as little more than a temper tantrum.  As people feel the impacts of extreme weather from climate change in their everyday lives, they are rightly asking questions about why the oil industry is continuing to go after ever dirtier sources of fossil fuels that make it impossible to fight climate changeWorld opinion is drawing the line at tar sands. Chiquita is joining a growing, civic-minded movement that is saying no to dirty fuels. Alberta businesses should be promoting, not undermining clean energy – this is in their best economic interest. Tar sands oil is not compatible with fighting climate change and having a healthy and prosperous future.

Chiquita reached its decision after a year of discussions with ForestEthics. In a letter to ForestEthics, the company wrote: “We are committed to directing our transportation providers to avoid, where possible, fuels from tar sands refineries and to adopt a strategy of continuous improvement towards the elimination of those fuels. We have recently confirmed this policy with our Company’s providers through an RFP process to ensure that this fuel is not being used for ground trucking transportation.” What this means is that the trucks moving bananas to our breakfast table will be tar sands free as much as possible. It also means that Chiquita and its trucking companies are sending a strong message to refineries and others along the fuel supply chain that they do not want tar sands in their fuel mix. ForestEthics has identified the U.S. refineries that take tar sands to help out companies trying to avoid this higher carbon and more polluting source of oil and Mother Jones just pulled together a map of tar sands refiners based on the ForestEthics research.

Chiquita joins Walgreens, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Quiksilver, Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Timberland, Bed Bath & Beyond, FedEx, Avon, American Eagle Outfitters, LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, and Liz Claiborne Inc. in making a commitment to avoid higher carbon fuels. These companies are showing courage in stepping up their efforts to fight climate change by dealing directly with their own fuel use. Chiquita also joins mayors, farmers, religious leaders, business leaders, scientists, veterans, workers and many others across North America is saying no to tar sands.

So what gives tar sands industry supporters the right to call for a boycott of Chiquita and other companies that make the right choice to avoid tar sands? Nothing. What we are seeing is part of a broader and desperate effort to stop any type of clean fuels policy. This despite the fact that by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s own numbers tar sands greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise and tar sands is getting dirtier, not cleaner. Yet, tar sands supporters are attacking Chiquita today as they attacked each of the other companies that made a similar commitment to fight climate change and dirty fuels. Tar sands supporters are also fighting the low carbon fuel standard in California. They are fighting the clean fuels standard in the U.S. Northeast. They are fighting the fuel quality directive in Europe. And they are the main cause for Canada dumping their global climate commitments even though doing so will not be good for the Canadian economy according to a Pembina Institute analysis.   

Chiquita’s decision is courageous and it is part of a turning of the tide against tar sands. The costs of climate change are already high and growing. Chiquita is taking an important step to help protect us against the dangers of climate change and destructive oil extraction.

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JJDec 16 2011 11:24 AM

Really is good to hear. Now if they (along with Timberland, Quiksilver, and Trader Joe's) would also be more conscious of their treatment of GLBT rights, I'd be a happy camper.

David MacLeanDec 16 2011 02:12 PM

Chiquita is part of a "growing civic-minded movement" -- what a joke. Tell that to striking workers who were murdered, or thousands dead at the hands of Chiquita funded terrorists.

NRDC has really outdone themselves on this one.

S. StrausDec 16 2011 03:43 PM

Might want to check your facts. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Gap, Timberland (and) Levis all realized the tar sands isn't that bad and changed their minds.

Chris RichardsDec 19 2011 10:45 AM

Let's say there are 10 ping pong balls in a basket and 3 are red and the rest are white. The demand for ping pong balls today is 10.

You say anyone who uses a red ping pong ball be dammed and quickly grab a white one. So how did that change the demand for ping pong balls? If Chiquita Bananas or anyone else wants to make a meaningful statement, why don't they - say - decrease their global fuel consumption by 10%, then grab a white ball. Not that easy is it?

How about you - do you drive to work or take the bus?

Blair GottDec 19 2011 01:42 PM

We boycott them not only because they will have to get their oil from countries with poor human rights conditions, you know, the same people that brought you 9/11, but also because of Chaquitas human rights track record !!! 2007, Chaquita fined 25 million for supporting guerilla activity in south America !!! NO BLOOD BANANAS IN THIS ALBERTA HOME........ EVER !!!!

Kelsey ThomsonDec 19 2011 02:21 PM

Consider ethical oil. It comes from countries where human rights are a priority, and where no human lives are lost as a result of oil production or trade. Oil from the sands is greatly reducing carbon imprint on a continuing basis, but your 'alternative, cleaner' oil comes from countries that have fewer environmental restrictions and where citizens' face HUGE human rights violations every day. Sudanese and Saudi oil is pretty dirty when you look at the larger picture.

John MansbridgeDec 19 2011 09:50 PM

The "Ugly American Syndrome" of the '50s/'60s has been reinvented for 21stC. Major American foundations invest hundreds of millions in Canadian activist groups to frustrate Canadian natural resource industries to the benefit of American interests - e.g. salmon fishing, forestry products, oil expiration and development.

Funding is also given to US groups to attack Canadian Industries by hound US Companies like Chiquita Bananas.

Forest Ethics US Chairman classic example of "Green Terrorist" (Kevin's company Retriever Development Counsel

"How To" on methods of destabilising foreign Companies using "Green" activists.

This clip will further explain the US corporate misconduct in Canadian affairs. Facts are based on US Tax records.

American "Green" Movement has gone rotten and are now the bad guys.

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