- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2001

A little story in The Wall Street Journal illustrates that there's just no pleasing some environmentalists. Appeasement just whets their appetite for further concessions.

BP Amoco, an evil oil company, is gradually discovering this the hard way. In 1997, the company's CEO, Sir John Browne, took a public position that carbon emissions should be reduced even though a convincing scientific case had yet to be made linking global warming to such emissions.

But Sir John didn't stop with mere symbolic statement, he took action. He caused the company symbol to be changed from a shield to a sunburst and adopted the slogan, “Beyond Petroleum.” The company also actually began to reduce its own emissions and started to promote solar power. It cut its carbon emissions by 5 percent from 1998 through 2000 and is planning to cut another 5 percent by the end of 2003.

Environmental groups are hardly satisfied with these developments. They are demanding that, at its annual meeting, BP take major steps to prove itself even greener. For example, it must agree to reduce and eventually phase out its production of oil and gas — which is roughly the equivalent of requiring Krispy Kreme to stop selling doughnuts.

“Let's take the 10 percent emissions reduction target,” wrote one incensed zealot. “It sounds like quite a nice stride, until you consider that BP Amoco's direct emissions are almost irrelevant. Its main role in causing climate change is not from company emissions, but from the oil and gas it produces.”

Greenpeace U.K. is one of the environmentalist groups insisting on BP's complete capitulation. Stephanie Tunmore, climate campaigner for the organization, says that BP has “built their brand on how environment-friendly they are. That's given us the impetus to push them to fulfill the implicit promises they've made.”

Showing further ingratitude for BP's overtures, Greenpeace “honored” Sir John Browne with an award for “Best Impression of an Environmentalist.”

“Behind Browne's portrayal of BP Amoco as a leader in solar energy,” said Greenpeace, “lies a company with far greater investment in dirty fossil fuels that are causing global warming.”

Earth Day 2000 is also targeting BP for special harassment, despite its efforts to accommodate. The group engaged in a campaign to pressure BP to curtail exploration and drilling for oil along the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a letter to BP, Earth Day said, “Any effort to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is simply unacceptable behavior, especially from a company that has worked for progress in other areas of environmental concern.” Next came the warning.

“As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth Day,” continued the letter, “consumers' concern for the environment is piqued. We are now prepared to take that concern into the buying, investing and working arenas through our Green Pledge Campaign. We are already organizing consumers, investors and college students to withhold their working power from BP should BP fail to take action. … Should you continue to attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge, we will ask consumers, investors and college students to take their business elsewhere.”

Regardless of your position on these issues, you've got to give BP credit for its world-class sense of humor. As part of its effort to cultivate solar energy, BP announced that it would install solar panels in 200 gas stations around the world. This nearly sent environmentalists over the edge. One activist lamented: “No one denies the importance of developing solar energy. Still, solar-powered gas stations are deeply ironic for the climate protection movement. BP Amoco hopes you will feel you are putting 'some sun in your life,' even as you put greenhouse gases in your tank.” Isn't that rich?

In fairness, though, it must be conceded that the evil BP committed the unforgivable act of merging with another evil oil company, Amoco Corp. of the UnitedStates. Following the merger, the evil conglomerate purchased the United States' Atlantic Richfield Co. and Britain's Burmah Castrol PLC. The sinister mega corporation has also achieved record profits, partially as a result of higher oil and natural-gas prices. After all, isn't producing a profit a greater sin than producing greenhouse gases in the eyes of certain radical environmentalists?

Conservatives are often criticized for being unreasonably resistant to environmental measures. But what about extreme environmentalists? Wouldn't it be nice if American environmentalists just once acknowledged their commitment to this nation's tradition of capitalism? The indispensability of economic freedom to political freedom? The importance of our national sovereignty? Don't bet on it.



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