PolluterWatch Challenges Big Oil for Scoffing at Renewables while Leaning on Government Welfare

  • Posted on: 18 March 2010
  • By: admin

PolluterWatch Director and Greenpeace USA Research Director Kert Davies sent the following letter today to American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard asking him to respond to two recent news articles that raise serious questions about government handouts for dirty industry companies and polluter executives’ true positions on clean energy.


702 H Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington DC, 20001

Jack Gerard

American Petroleum Institute
1220 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-4070

Dear Mr. Gerard,

Last week the Energy and Environment News ran an article on their website entitled “Oil Execs Chortle as Obama Admin Promotes Renewables,” quoting oil executives, specifically the Chairman of ConocoPhilips and the CEO of SaudiAramco, scoffing at renewable energy technologies as reliable replacements for oil, gas and coal in the global economy.

In a separate article last week entitled “Governments appear to spend $500 billion a year to subsidize fossil fuels,” Energy and Environment News reported on a forthcoming G-20 report revealing that governments worldwide may spend as much as $500 billion a year in subsidies to prop up the same fossil fuel companies whose executives “chortle” at the renewable energy technologies that compete with their products.

As the President of the American Petroleum Institute (API), an organization devoted to promoting continued oil consumption, I hope you will answer the following questions on behalf of the companies you represent:

  • Are you comfortable with fossil fuel executives, some of whom are API members, criticizing renewable energy while continuing to gobble up hundreds of billions of dollars in government welfare?
  • If one standard of an industry’s “readiness” to compete in the modern economy is its ability to operate without government welfare, when do you expect the oil industry will be ready to stand on its own without relying on government assistance, tax breaks and other subsidies?
  • Given that oil companies have been operating in the US since the mid-1800’s and still require billions in handouts to stay afloat, is 200 years the operative standard for an industry to get “ready” to operate independently?
  • How much money from taxpayer supported government agencies like the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the United States Overseas Investment Corporation have your companies received to support overseas operations?
  • How much American-made profits do your member companies send to countries with a vested interest in keeping America addicted to oil? How much profit do your members make doing business in those same countries?

I hope you agree that American taxpayers deserve answers to these important questions. Additionally, I hope you will address the seemingly ironic “chortling” by oil executives who criticize renewable energy subsidies while continuing to lobby for more government handouts.

Finally, I hope you will also explain the American oil industry’s plan to wean itself off of government subsidies and then turn its wealth and technological know-how to developing the clean, renewable energy solutions we need to fight global warming, improve national security, decrease foreign debt and declare our independence from dirty fossil fuels.


Kert Davies

Director, PolluterWatch

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