By December 27, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

Memo to reporters: #ExxonKnew activists have zero expertise on human rights


Bill McKibben protesting for #exxonknew outside a Vermont gas station.

As stories continue to develop around the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, #ExxonKnew activists continue to demand that reporters include mention of their efforts in their stories, notwithstanding their overall irrelevance to the question of whether the secretary-designate will be confirmed by the Senate.

These efforts, heretofore, have not been terribly successful, with the vast majority of reporters focused much more on issues related to foreign policy and geopolitics than on providing a platform for discredited #ExxonKnew activists.

It got so bad recently that the far-left group Media Matters felt compelled to issue a memo to journalists scolding them for their accurate portrayal of Tillerson’s leadership on climate issues, and demanding that the #ExxonKnew crowd be given more real estate in these pieces.

Against that backdrop, we were surprised to see #ExxonKnew activist Carroll Muffett of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) turn up this week in Greenwire (of all places) to opine on Exxon’s human rights record (of all things), even though Muffett has literally no expertise on any of the subjects being discussed in the article.

In fact, here’s a run-down of his CV on the CIEL website, which is 100 percent focused on environmental activism:

“Prior to joining CIEL, Carroll served as Executive Director of the Climate Law & Policy Project and Deputy Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA, where he was instrumental in the organization’s campaigns on global warming, forests and other issues. From 2000 to 2006, Carroll was international counsel and Senior Director for International Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife, helping win and defend international protections for high value timber species like mahogany. Before joining Defenders, Carroll was an attorney with Covington & Burling, and served as a legal fellow at CIEL.

Carroll has authored numerous articles and textbook chapters on national and international environmental policy. He is a recognized expert on the international law of wildlife and timber trade, and a leader in the emerging field of international legal responses to climate change.”

As we’ve noted before, the Rockefeller-funded Climate Accountability Institute, on whose board Muffett serves, co-hosted the now infamous La Jolla conference in 2012 where activists brainstormed how they could use racketeering laws to target and subsequently attack ExxonMobil.

He was also one of the participants in that closed-door meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund offices where activists strategized on how they could establish “in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution.”

And he recently joined activists such as Naomi Oreskes, who wrote a book that attempts to tie ExxonMobil to tobacco, at a forum on Capitol Hill held by members of Congress sympathetic to their campaign. Matt Pawa, the activist who made himself famous for briefing the attorneys general ahead of their March 29th press conference with Al Gore, is also on the CIEL board of trustees with Muffett.

Unable to convince reporters to quote him on the things he actually knows about – say, on how to manufacture a phony corporate attack campaign – Muffett was apparently able to convince a Greenwire reporter to quote him on something that has nothing to do with how he makes his living.

And give the man his due: he certainly didn’t waste his opportunity, handing the E&E reporter a series of hair-on-fire quotes that allege awful (and demonstrably untrue) things about Exxon’s international record.

Stuff like: claiming that Exxon is “a target of an investigation in the Philippines, where multinational energy companies are charged with violating the human rights of local populations now affected by climate change.”

Sounds bad, right? But what if we told you that the entities leading that “investigation” aren’t governments, but activists like Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists?

What if we told you that these groups brought the suit against ExxonMobil, as well as Chevron and BP, claiming that they caused a typhoon in the Philippines in 2015 because the companies’ products exacerbate climate change? Are we the only ones who have access to Google around here, or what?

Exxon’s human rights record is widely known to be consistent with the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The company has been a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights since 2002, and in 2015 became one of the corporate representatives on the steering committee of the Voluntary Principles.

The company’s good work is one of the reasons why Tillerson has received endorsements from advocates like Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, who said,

“In 2011, the UN Foundation recognized Rex Tillerson for ExxonMobil’s commitment to help meet the UN’s goals of substantially reducing deaths from malaria and increasing economic opportunities for girls and women. These efforts are examples of the positive effects that multinational corporations can have when they align their business interests with global development priorities.” (emphasis added)

By the way: unlike Muffett, Calvin actually has the credentials to say that.


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