Earlier this month, Royal Dutch Shell announced it would allow its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, to expire. ALEC is a major force behind the scenes in the effort to stall official policies that would combat climate change. Shell's extraction from ALEC is part of a larger ongoing effort to position the company as concerned about the environment, responsible, and supportive of efforts to mitigate climate change.
Don't believe it for a second.
This may seem like stating the obvious; however, Shell has gone to great lengths to greenwash its image. They have a climate blogger. The top item on their website's main menu is "Environment and Society." They use words like "responsible" and "sustainability" all over their public communications to make it seem like they care about the environment and deserve a seat at the table in climate discussions.
Despite all the pretty environmentally friendly sounding rhetoric, though, Shell has no plans to stop enriching itself while pumping carbon into the atmosphere. Take it from the company itself, in its own most recent annual report:
"Our strategy seeks to reinforce our position as a leader in the oil and gas industry..."
"We expect over 80% of our capital investment in 2015 to be in our Upstream [oil and gas extraction] businesses."
"Our upstream and downstream [processing and sales] "engines" are strongly cash-generative, mature businesses, which will underpin our financial performance to at least the end of this decade."
It doesn't get more explicit than that.
Shell wants its investors to know that it's going to continue to fight its way to the top of the polluter pile and make a fortune while defiling the planet.
And, while it's drilling operations in the Arctic are getting all the media attention, Shell brags to its investors that it has brought on a mind-boggling number of fossil fuel extraction operations last year, including 4 deep-water drilling sites, two of which are off the U.S. Gulf Coast.
"In Malaysia, first oil was produced from the Shell-operated Gumusut-Kakap deep-water development (Shell interest 29%). Peak production of around 135 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) is expected. Work on the gas injection facilities is continuing.
"In Nigeria, first oil was produced from the Shell-operated Bonga North West deep-water development (Shell interest 55%) which is expected to deliver peak production of around 40 thousand boe/d. Oil from the subsea facilities is transported by a new undersea pipeline to the existing Bonga floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) export facility, which has been upgraded to handle the additional oil flow.
"In the USA, there were two major start-ups in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico with first oil produced from the Mars B (Shell interest 71.5%) and Cardamom (Shell interest 100%) developments. Production from these developments is planned to ramp up to 80 thousand boe/d and 50 thousand boe/d respectively."
Shell will be extracting roughly 305 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day from just these 4 deepwater sites. For comparisons sake, BP's Deepwater Horizon platform that caused the 2010 disaster in teh Gulf was gushing at a rate of 53,000 barrels per day just before they finally capped it.
In total, Shell reports that it produced more than 3 million barrels of oil equivalents in 2014.
Shell remains one of the dirtiest, corrupt and dangerous companies ever known, and no amount of green-washing can hide that simple fact.
Shell's extraction from ALEC doesn't signal a new environmental conscientiousness dawning at the company. It represents only that the company wanted to neutralize its exposure in the public-relations nightmare that is ALEC, as well as an effort to forestall strong climate-change-focused measures from being adopted at upcoming international meetings by portraying itself and its industry as responsible, reasonable and concerned about our future.
Shell is none of those things. Its own corporate documents prove it. It remains one of the most contemptible organizations in the history of humankind, and activists should not back off one inch in the fight against their depredations. The future depends on it.