BP’s Greenwashing Masked Dangerous ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Reality

Our guest blogger is Rebecca Lefton, a researcher for Progressive Media.

BP’s profits rose an unexpected 135% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the first quarter the prior year. Yet these were “overshadowed” by the tragic oil spill resulting from an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, located 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The rig is owned by a Switzerland-based company, Transocean Ltd, and leased to BP (formerly British Petroleum). These companies and Halliburton, whose cementing operations may have caused the explosion—are being sued for negligence.

BP has aggressively rebranded itself as a company focused on alternative, clean energy sources. The company has a series of commercials advertising their “Beyond Petroleum” campaign “promoting and marketing alternative energy solutions.” But “Beyond Petroleum” is an Orwellian slogan for what is still almost entirely an oil company focused on making billions every year from dirty fossil fuels. A new video from the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Victor Zapanta depicts BP’s greenwashing in contrast with the tragic results of its drilling operations:

Indeed, although BP ads depict green flowers and spinning windmills, BP only invested a tiny fraction of their profits into alternative energy last year. Their actual investments in alternative energies — $1.3 billion in 2009 — are dwarfed by their profits. In fact, the last two years their budgeted alternative energy investments were around seven percent compared to profits. According to Driessen of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, BP spent the same amount on this advertising over two years (the campaign was launched in 2000) as they did on hydrogen, wind, and solar energy over a six-year period:

Beyond ‘Beyond Petroleum’ Greenwashing Lies Tar Sands. On April 14, BP “easily beat off challenges to a Canadian oil sands project and to its executive pay policy.” BP rejected a shareholders resolution in opposition to Canadian tar sands production “because it emits more carbon dioxide than traditional oil production, uses more water and involves greater destruction to the landscape.” [Reuters, 4/15/2010]

BP Quit Climate Action Partnership. “ConocoPhillips, BP and Caterpillar have dropped out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), the coalition of corporations and environmental groups that has been most prominent in pushing Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation.” [Washington Post, 2/17/2010]

$16 Million In Lobbying. BP spent $16 million lobbying in 2009. [Open Secrets]

BP Profiting From Iran — Threatening our National Security. “BP, in a 2009 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it had interests in and was the operator of two fields and a pipeline located outside Iran in which the National Iranian Oil company had an interest.” [New York Times, 3/6/2010]

41% Raise For BP’s CEO. “Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s total remuneration and share awards rose 41% in 2009 on performance bonuses from improved operations which made the company one of the best performing oil majors in the fourth quarter, despite lower full-year profits due to the fall in the oil price.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/5/2010]

Americans are spending nearly $3 billion more on gasoline due to higher gasoline prices. And taxpayers are spending billions of dollars in tax subsidies to Big Oil. These subsidies will cost the U.S. government about $3 billion next year in lost revenue and nearly $20 billion over the next five years. The next dollars we spend should go to companies that provide genuinely clean and safe fuel. The costs are too high.