- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

Many American motorists aren't aware that "BP" stands for British Petroleum, and judging from its latest ad campaign, it's safe to assume the world's second-largest energy company likes it that way. Despite the fact that it is the largest oil and gas producer in the United States and has huge holdings in eco-fragile Alaska, BP would like Americans to believe its initials actually stand for "Beyond Petroleum." That's the tag line in a blitz of billboard and TV ads BP has unleashed across America in recent weeks, emphasizing its commitment to a flock of environmentalist shibboleths, among them solar power, wind power and ratification of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.

Over the past six years, BP has invested more than $200 million in solar power. But BP last year alone invested $8.5 billion in exploration and production of petroleum products. If BP executives were completely honest about it, they'd have to admit that company spends far more in a single year burnishing its environmental image than it has invested in solar power in the last six years. There's a reason for that, of course. Solar power, wind power, hydrogen cells, electric cars all of the energy alternatives that bring tears of joy to eyes of impressionable environmentalists simply aren't economical. In fact, they often require more energy to produce than they generate for consumers.

Cynics might suggest that BP's $200 million investment in solar power and its current lavish advertising campaign are really exercises in appeasement that are designed to fend off environmentalist critics. BP's corporate activism may also have competitive advantages, since its backing of the Kyoto global warming treaty would devastate the U.S. economy, but leave the UK (and, by extension, the UK-based BP) relatively untouched.


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