WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- As the U.S. military continues to battle terrorism overseas, ExxonMobil is preparing for the possibility of eco-terrorism at its May 29 annual shareholders meeting in Dallas. The same environmental radicals who looted Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999 will descend on Dallas to protest ExxonMobil's environmental policies. Among the groups orchestrating the "Radical Encuentro Camp" that will be set up outside the meeting is the Ruckus Society.
The Ruckus Society has trained members of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. According to the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, the ELF and the related ALF have caused more than $43 million in damage in more than 600 attacks since 1996. Their acts of terrorism have included the firebombing of the Vail ski resort in 1998, which caused $12 million in damage. These two groups issued a joint statement in January of this year claiming responsibility for 67 illegal acts in 2001, including the arson that burned down a $5.4 million horticulture building at the University of Washington.
Although Ruckus purports to be nonviolent, the descriptions of their "action camp workshops" posted on their website suggest otherwise. Participants are trained in how to orchestrate blockades, including "barrel blockades, vehicle blockades, water blockades, bridge actions, and cattle guard blockades." Another aspect of the training is "climbing for direct actions," which teaches participants how to conduct "bridge blockades, building climbs, and stack climbs." Finally, the "scouting" portion of the program instructs participants how to evade security to break into corporate facilities.
While a ruckus is being raised outside the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting, environmentalists inside will try to bring the company to its knees by passing shareholder resolutions. These resolutions propose dramatically altering ExxonMobil's operations to eliminate virtually all emissions, even though ExxonMobil's current activities are well within the law.
Radical environmentalist groups have urged their members to buy one share of ExxonMobil so they can vote on these resolutions. According to the April 3 Wall Street Journal, 18 companies have had such shareholder resolutions filed this year, up from seven in 2001. Meanwhile, Greenpeace has launched StopE$$o, a boycott campaign against ExxonMobil's European brand Esso, accusing them of "burning the planet for profit."
However, ExxonMobil not only complies with all environmental laws, but exceeds minimum standards. For example, between 1973 and 1998, the company reduced the energy use at its refineries and chemical plants by 37 percent and has pledged another 15 percent reduction over the next several years. The CO2 emissions avoided through this reduction outstrip those of Great Britain in 1998. In fact, ExxonMobil is the leader in the installation of cogeneration units that simultaneously produce electric power and steam, with up to 50 percent energy savings.
Through new technologies, the company has cut its air emissions and hazardous waste disposal rates by almost 60 percent since 1989. ExxonMobil has also reduced its oil spills to the point that that only about two tablespoons lost for every million gallons of crude oil transported.
Of course, one drop of oil spilled is too much, but there is inevitably some environmental risk associated with all commerce. Fortunately, the environment is incredibly resilient. For example, oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have become such great habitats for plant and animal life that environmentalists have recommended not removing them even after drilling has ended.
Yet, the most radical environmental groups are determined to stop the march of human progress by insisting that any human footprint on the environment is intolerable. They simply refuse to balance human needs, including the alleviation of extreme poverty in many parts of the world, with environmental protection. This agenda is shortsighted, as history has shown that the wealthiest and most advanced countries are best able to develop and afford the innovations needed to protect the environment, such as the installation of pollution control technology.
Unfortunately, the radical environmentalist agenda demands taking far more drastic actions despite inconclusive evidence. Although 17,000 leading scientists believe that global warming is likely due to natural causes, rather than human activity, ExxonMobil has taken the lead in proposing more sensible solutions than the misguided Kyoto treaty that would have exempted nations such as China and India.
For instance, ExxonMobil advocates using existing technology to raise the efficiency of power generating plants in China, India and other countries to today's average level in the U.S. and Europe. This would reduce CO2 emissions in 2010 by more than one billion tons per year, or 1 1/2 times the reduction expected from implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in nations other than the U.S.
While environmental activists are entitled to introduce shareholder resolutions and organize boycotts, ExxonMobil shareholders and the public deserve to know the facts. They also deserve a meeting and a country that are free from eco-terrorism.
* Marc Levin is President of the American Freedom Center at www.americanfreedom.org and Vice President of the Texas Review Society. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.