Exxon and the angry American
Manmohan Singh is in US today. We will see a lot of images from there, but not perhaps this one: Exxon Valdez, writes Bharati Chaturvedi.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in the United States today. We will see a lot of images from there, but not perhaps this one: Exxon Valdez.
How can we ever forget them? Even if you live in landlocked India, it is hard to forget how, in 1989, the Exxon Corporation's ship, in their own words, spilled 'millions of gallons of crude oil into one of the richest ocean habitats anywhere in the world'.
Apart from wildlife, it also destroyed the livelihoods of fishermen and other communities who could not use those hazardous waters. Exxon was supposed to pay $900 million in over 10 years for the damage -- which it has itself claimed includes people and wildlife.
Now, a good 16 years down the line, a campaigning group, Save Our Environment, along with 11 other leading American environmental organizations, has reminded the public that Exxon Corporation has not yet paid up its dues to the community.
Normally, this may not have been such big news but for the little fact that the company made a record profit of $25 billion last year and its business is booming.
But the anger against it doesn't end here. Exxon doesn't seem to be mainstreaming the lessons of 1989 into their work. They are lobbying to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge Park for oil drilling, despite the dangers it can cause.
And the company's pledge to research advanced energy technology has been allocated only two day's worth of its 2004 profits, the groups tell us.
The campaign will be a particularly interesting one because it asks a bigger question -- about the commitment of America, the world's super power, and one of its largest oil companies, to global warming, an area where it's track record is not very impressive.
The G8 -- which comprises the United States along with Britain, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and France -just committed itself to attacking climate change and hence, global warming. But if the US doesn't tackle the issue at home -- about being the world's biggest gas guzzlers -- how can any real change come about?
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