In 2008, as the Shell Oil company joined its fossil fuel colleagues in charging Americans outrageous prices for gasoline, John Hofmeister, then the President of Shell Oil, testified before Congress that his company was making a transition from crude oil to renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar power. He proudly declared that “Shell is an international developer of thin-film solar technology.” Hofmeister also said that Shell Oil was “becoming a significant wind energy producer.”
Notice the particular language that Hofmeister used. He said that Shell Oil was “developing” and “becoming” a company that would provide clean energy solutions – not that Shell Oil actually offered any such solutions.
A year later, we see how much Shell Oil’s promises of becoming better were really worth. Shell Oil has announced that it is canceling its solar and wind power projects, and going back to its 20th century energy plan – selling crude oil.
Congressman Ed Markey, chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, isn’t letting this deceptive public relations maneuver go unchallenged. Markey has issued a statement calling Shell Oil to task for its dishonest attempt at greenwashing – covering up its polluting practices with a veneer of environmentalist language.
Markey wrote, “I am disappointed, but cannot say I am surprised. Apparently Shell Oil only wants to place wind turbines and solar panels is in its big-budget commercials, rather than in places where they can help consumers.”
The lesson is clear: Big oil corporations cannot be trusted to develop sustainable energy technology. Real solutions need to come from other, more trustworthy sources, and government funding for oil company “research” needs to end.
Postscript: Guess how many journalists have reported on Ed Markey’s response to Shell Oil’s broken promises. Absolutely zero.