April 30, 2006

Profit and Nothing But

Posted in Environment at 2:22 pm by greatparanoiac

protest.jpgOn Friday, oil companies posted their quarterly earnings. Chevron made $4 billion this period, that’s almost a 50% increase from this time last year. Exxon Mobil’s reported quarterly profit was $8.4 billion; more than double that of Chevron. Combined with ConocoPhillips earnings of $3.3 billion, the three companies took in nearly $16 billion in three months.

If that’s not shocking enough, these figures are separate from revenue; the revenue for all three companies in the first quarter was almost $192 billion.  The Associated Press reported this amount as being “more than the individual gross domestic products of 189 different countries, including Chile, Peru or Venezuela.”
 
Since the price of a barrel (now at $75) of oil only seems to be increasing, we can expect next quarter earnings to be just as high. This is amazing.  Of course politicians don’t do anything more than pandering to constituents. I’m sure there will be investigations of some sort. And the oil companies are unapologetic. Why should they apologize right? They work hard for their money–and all those suckers who have to wake up at 5:30am and carpool to work because they can’t afford gas aren’t trying hard enough.

“Our company is in an excellent position to continue adding value for our stockholders and helping to satisfy the energy needs of the world economies,” Chevron Chairman David O’Reilly said.

I can’t write about the personal impact this has had. The last time I drove I could fill the tank of a ’97 Corolla with $20. Though my friend with a similar sedan told me yesterday that $20 gets you a little under six gallons now. Yikes.

On Earth Day I posted a blog on the environmental impact Chevron has had in the Ecuadorian Amazon and how pollutants from their pipeline have destroyed indigenous communities. Chevron has refused to clean up the pollution and oil spills; claiming their agreement with the Ecuadorian government relieves them of all liability.

There are cancer clusters among the indigenous communities because of toxicity to their water supply caused by the oil companies. While the indigenous people have tried to sue Chevron to take care of their medical expenses, this has been tied up in courts since 1993. This is appalling—how can it be okay to reap billions in profit and not have to pay anything to people whose lives and community were destroyed in the process.

An ongoing international campaign  is being organized to hold Chevron accountable. I don’t think oil companies can ever be brought to their knees. However, there should be mechanisms in place that forces giant industries to pay restitution to people whose way of life forever altered. I think international agencies should pressure oil companies to truly be socially responsible.  This has to stop–if we’re ever going to move toward a more just and fair world.

Enjoy your windfall Bush and co.–and remember the beatitudes. Okay…now I’ll step off my soapbox. 

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