A Free-Market Energy Blog

Climate Leadership Council on Defense (ExxonMobil caper hits the front group)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 19, 2021

“Hence the CLC decision to ‘suspend’ ExxonMobil. Why did they not expel them once and for all? Obviously, the CLC hopes that ExxonMobil will grovel, endorse ever-more strongly the ‘climate crisis’ narrative and the imperative for climate policies making energy more expensive, and then — above all else — write a big check to the CLC as an exercise in the only kind of penance applauded by the political Left.”

“So bad at ideological battle are ExxonMobil and many others in the fossil-fuel sector that they remain convinced that a stance of ‘Me Too, But Less’ is politically viable.”

– Benjamin, Zycher, “The Climate Leadership Council ‘Suspends’ ExxonMobil.” August 16, 2021.

Unlimited money has produced a number of questionable groups that claim to be “bipartisan,” “conservative,” or “Republican.” The Climate Leadership Council (formed: 2017) bought off some big Republican names (George Shultz, James Baker) and enlisted defensive corporations to front a carbon tax where “all” Americans receive “dividend payments” to make the levy “revenue neutral.”

Never mind the government promising to return with one hand what it takes from the other … per dollar … per person, per time period. Never mind the international trade war from “border adjustments” that go along with the tax.

The idea is to get the climate policy train going and fill in the blanks or endure the pushback later. Create a new normal, a new baseline from which to ratchet upward. It’s all part of what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo.”

Enter ExxonMobil, a company that got caught (below) in an open secret: trying to be what it is not. ExxonMobil is an oil and gas company seven days a week, every week of the year. Yet it tries to “manage” the CO2 reduction politics as if its action makes a climate difference or will make its vehement critics lay off.

And for this debacle, the Climate Leadership Council ‘cancelled’ its founding corporate sponsor, on which Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute weights in.

Exxon Mobil Climate Strategy

In an undercover sting operation, a Greenpeace operative got answers out of Keith McCoy, senior director for government affairs for ExxonMobil. Here is his most important answer, which was as honest and accurate as can be.

Nobody is going to propose a [carbon] tax on all Americans. And the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that. But it gives us a talking point so we can say, “well, what does Exxon Mobil [stand?] for, we’re for a carbon tax.” … [A] carbon tax isn’t going to happen.

In response, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), selling the Bipartisan Climate Solution” to “cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2035 while investing all Americans in a clean energy future,” suspended Exxon Mobil as a member!

Zycher Weighs In

Straight shooter, quick-study PhD economist Benjamin Zycher could not resist the irony of the whole thing, beginning with two-faced, contra-capitalistic Exxon Mobil.

His recent National Review Online article, “The Climate Leadership Council ‘Suspends’ ExxonMobil,” quoted above, should be read in its entirety. Zycher laments the decline of the once storied corporation from John D. Rockefeller through Lee Raymond. He imagines what a strong company would have said to the CLC and otherwise should begin doing in an about-face (see Appendix).

But this story does not quite end here. It turns out that CLC did a little air-brushing of its own in light of Zycher’s analysis. He reported to a list-serve:

So in the 2nd paragraph of the Exxon column, I had a link to the original WSJ ad in which EM was listed as a “corporate founding member” of the CLC.  (“……… one of the Corporate Founding Members of the CLC in June 2017.”)  I looked at that ad/link not more than three days ago.  So guess what has disappeared?  That’s right: That link now goes to a page reading: “Not Found —– Sorry, but the page you were trying to view does not exist.” …

Fortunately, the memory of the Internet is long, and the ad is here. But for how long?  Who knew that the CLC reads NRO?

Appendix: What ExxonMobil Should Have Said

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods could have had a Lee Raymond moment in the wake of the Greenpeace caper. “Comments made by the individuals in no way represent the company’s position on a variety of issues,” he stated. “including climate policy and our firm commitment that carbon pricing is important to addressing climate change.”

But what should have ExxonMobil stated to be both honest and principled? Benjamin Zycher provided that as well in his NRO piece.

There is no need for CLC to suspend us; we resign, enthusiastically, from the CLC, effective one hour before said suspension. It was a major error in our judgment to have joined previously as a Founding Member, regardless of the CLC effort to rewrite history. Notwithstanding the blatant CLC effort now to induce us to write them a big check and to endorse destructive polices so that they will pretend to respect us again, we will not rejoin under any circumstances. We have learned over the past four years what we should have understood from the beginning: Like all of the climate left, the CLC is fundamentally dishonest, a premise that we are prepared to support in detail, about the science of climate change, about the evidence on climate phenomena, and about the effects of the CLC policy proposals.

Fossil fuels have served to lift billions of humans out of grinding poverty, have saved countless numbers of lives, have provided the inputs for myriad products without which life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, and have helped to create the vast increase in wealth that allows for huge social investment in environmental improvement. The ideological crusade against fossil fuels, now masquerading as an effort to “save the planet” from a “climate crisis,” is fundamentally anti-human, and henceforth ExxonMobil will stand proudly in opposition to such an imperative. We will defend ourselves, the production of fossil fuels, and capitalism without hesitation, without compromise, and without apology. We urge the other members of our industry to join us in a renewed pursuit of truth and analytic rigor.

Bravo! … Maybe Alex Epstein can take it from here.

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