Are Oil Producers Feeling Some Heat?

According to “Investors Pressure Oil Giants on Ocean Plastics Pollution,” by David Hasemyer (Inside Climate News)  oil magnets are beginning to feel some heat for the plastic waste they continue to create – and that “heat” also refers to climate change heat the oil industry is primarily responsible for.

Savvy “environmentally friendly” oil investors are beginning to focus on the plastic disaster created by oil producers. The disaster not only includes the mountains of plastic covering landfills, but also the plastic pollution that now kills over 1,000,000 sea birds a year, untold turtles, and countless other sea inhabitants including whales. But the damage goes further: it’s now recognized that microscopic plastic pieces are blown through the air, infecting the food we eat and the air we breathe. This should come as no surprise, though.

“Conrad Mackerron, senior vice president of As You Sow…said he was prepared for a stiff fight when his organization filed plastics-related shareholder resolutions this year with Exxon, Chevron, Phillips 66 and chemical giant DowDuPont,” according to Hasemyer’s article.

Ah! Typical move, though, when the oil producers “agreed to address the plastics issue in exchange for the investors withdrawing their formal resolutions.” Is this just another delay tactic? It’s a tactic other plastic producers are accused of using: Coca Cola, PepsiCo, etc.  Everybody is always “working on it.” Nothing seems to get done, however, but a lot of lip service. We are talking about both “gas” and “oil” producers.

One of the major issues is the ubiquitous spread of “nurdles.” Captain Charles Moore, in Plastic Ocean studied not just the large, visible plastic in the Pacific gyre, but also documented the presence of billions upon billions of nurdles in the water – the very tiny plastic items that  are used to make plastic products. These nurdles are consumed by fish, fowl, and mammals…and that indirectly includes people.

It’s a fact that plastic production is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Fracking, the act of destroying the earth and copious amounts of fresh water to extract gas from the earth, releases methane into the atmosphere. (So it’s not just cow farts that create methane gas, folks.)

Then any leaks along the trip to the destination account for more methane leakage. Finally, the manufacture of plastic feedstock creates even more methane leakage.

“The whole refining process is very greenhouse gas intensive…from the gas fields to the production end there is a huge carbon footprint to plastics,” explained Lisa Holzman, energy program manager for As You Sow. The methane release is just one of the problems with fracking – toxic fresh water pollution is as bad as the methane release. Gas, like oil, is a fossil fuel.

Water Pollution from Fracking
Photo compliments of Fractracker.org

Boycotting and banning plastic bags, bottles and straws are excellent, effective first-steps that consumers can easily take to send the message that they are fed up with the wanton trashing of the world by big oil and big chemical producing companies.