Exxon’s Wealth Headaches are Clouding Its Vision

Exxon’s execs have it rough these days. As Fortune Magazine reported, “If oil simply stays where it is now, Exxon’s cash could approach $40 billion in 12 months. By then [Exxon’s CEO Lee Raymond] is expected to have handed off the top job — and the headache of what to do with all that cash.” What a pity, those kinds of headaches.

One thing Exxon won’t be spending their cash on is desperately-needed renewable technologies. ABC News reports that Exxon (unlike several other top oil firms) is refusing to invest in renewables like solar and wind energy until Uncle Sam ponies up more subsidies. A top Exxon exec tells ABC that clean energy is “an uneconomic niche and our business is not built around the expectation of a bunch of subsidies to make a profit. We want a business that is robust on its own merits.

Oh, really? If so, Exxon really ought to just close up shop. As Grist Magazine reminds us, “the oil industry gets billions in direct subsidies and tax breaks, and also benefits from externalizing the costs of its pollution onto the public, from massive public investment in roads and highways to carry oil-guzzling vehicles, from massive federal subsidies to agribusinesses that use petroleum-based fertilizers, and from a lax regulatory environment that allows automakers to delay improving fuel economy.”

Somebody ought to send a couple cases of Advil to Exxon headquarters — those wealth headaches seem to be seriously imparing their connection to reality.