Dear Co-op America Member,
You can't turn on the news without reading about high gas prices, concerns about global warming, and the path for America’s energy future. Thankfully these are now nightly news topics. And with all the talk about gas, more should also be said about the human cost of gas and oil and its impact on people and communities throughout the world. We highlight some of this below.
The human costs of oil and gas are just one more reason to get independent from oil. Many Co-op America members have already been making creative adjustments in their daily lives to help conserve gas and oil. Email us your ideas for ways to cut back, use alternative transportation, carpool etc. Then we can share your great ideas with others.
For the Future,
Better Gas Options. Is it Possible?
It is clear, when it comes to oil and gas, the answer is that less is better. But the reality is that most of America is car dependent. Of course, that leads to the question we often get here: "If I have to buy gas for my car, where should I go?"
Tough question. Co-op America’s take: There is no such thing as a "good" gas company. However, some gas and oil companies have taken important first steps toward reforming their business practices. Consumers can use their purchases to applaud these first steps and push for changes in what is still a fairly problematic industry. And consumers can join with investors in calling on companies to disclose fully their environmental and social impacts.
BP: Recently named a climate leader by CERES, a nationally renowned network of investment funds, environmental organizations, and other public interest groups working to advance environmental stewardship on the part of businesses. BP also has made significant planned investment in solar energy.
Sunoco: Sunoco is the only big oil company to endorse the CERES Principles for environmentally sustainable business. Sunoco reportedly does not buy oil from the Middle East.
CITGO: CITGO is the US arm of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), a world energy corporation owned by the Venezuelan State. CITGO donated home heating oil to low-income families in several US states this winter, though their efforts were attacked by Congress.
Shell: Shell has agreed to report on its social and environmental impact using the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines. Learn more about the GRI.
Chevron: Chevron has a long record of environmental and human rights violations in countries it sources from. In April 2006, shareholders called for Chevron to develop a verifiable human rights policy.
Exxon: Exxon was named a climate laggard by CERES. Exxon is the target of international campaigns such as Campaign ExxonMobil, Exxpose Exxon, and more.
BOTTOM LINE: Know the facts and speak out when you shop to push for change.
Pay at the Pump: The Developing World Pays More Than You Think
One of the most famous cases of human rights abuse involved Shell's encouragement of the use of lethal force against environmental activists in Nigeria's Ogoni region. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders fighting to oust Shell from Ogoniland were detained by the Nigerian government and executed. Families of the deceased are still seeking justice.
Unfortunately, since Saro-Wiwa’s death in 1995, people and communities continue to suffer injustice at the hands of big oil companies.
BP: BP is the primary target of the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign, an international coalition of groups working to raise public awareness of the problems caused by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. The Baku-Ceyhan Campaign criticizes the project for displacing residents, supporting oppressive regimes, and for endangering people and the environment by building in areas with frequent seismic activity. Learn more at BP's Responsible Shopper Profile.
Chevron: In the Fall of 2005, attorneys representing more than 30,000 Ecuadorian jungle settlers and Amazon Indians filed a lawsuit in California against Chevron for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of wastewater that contaminated surrounding environments and seeped into drinking water, killing animals and causing human health problems including miscarriages and skin abnormalities. Chevron's liability could be in the billions of dollars.
Also in 2005, six protesters were shot and killed at a Chevron Texaco oil export terminal in Nigeria. Hundreds of protesters had arrived at the terminal to oppose the lack of development and jobs in the community of Ugborodo when security opened fire on the people. Learn more at Chevron's Responsible Shopper profile.
Shell: On April 11, 2006, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ordered the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to stop gas flaring in the Iwherekan community by April 2007 and to appear in court on May 31, 2006, with a plan detailing the company's proposed actions. Shell was among a group of prominent oil companies implicated in the lawsuit that sought to end gas flaring in Nigeria, which plaintiffs argue violates their basic human rights by exposing them to highly dangerous levels of air toxins that result from the burning. Nigeria is estimated to lose 2.5 billion US dollars annually due to the effects of gas flaring practices. Two-thirds of Nigeria’s people survive on less than a dollar (US) a day. Learn more at Shell's Responsible Shopper profile.
ExxonMobil: ExxonMobil, as well as a handful of other exploration and pipeline companies, is being charged in a class-action lawsuit filed weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of southern Louisiana. The class-action case faults oil and exploration companies for heightening the level of ruin caused by the hurricane. Plaintiffs claim that in efforts to uncover oil and natural gas, these companies indiscriminately and irresponsibly dredged the coastal wetlands of Louisiana, which serve as a critical natural buffer against storm surges and flooding. The case was filed on behalf of all Hurricane Katrina survivors. Learn more at ExxonMobil's Responsible Shopper profile.