I should probably come clean right up front: I recently started working for the Change Chevron campaign at Rainforest Action Network, and helped the Yes Men punk Chevron’s new “We Agree” ad campaign earlier this week.
I am certainly motivated to do this work by Chevron’s toxic legacy in Ecuador, but there are plenty of other reasons to deflate the company’s greenwash. Some recent news items, for instance, have definitely fueled my ire.
Chevron is leading the charge to recklessly exploit the world’s dwindling oil supplies in the post-Gulf oil spill world. A few weeks ago, the British government granted Chevron the first deepwater drilling permit it has approved since the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico began six months ago in April.
At virtually the same time — and with little to no fanfare — Chevron finished drilling the first deepwater oil well to be completed in North America since the tragedy in the Gulf started. Some 260 miles northeast of Newfoundland, Chevron’s well is the deepest ever drilled off of Canada’s coasts.
Now we’ve got news that Chevron will spend $7.5 billion on one of the largest deepwater drilling projects in U.S. history. The Houston Chronicle describes it as “a massive floating city about 280 miles southwest of New Orleans.”
Of course, the company isn’t trumpeting these deepwater drilling projects as loudly as it’s trumpeting others that portray it in a greener light. One such project is the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, which will produce up to 45 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 13,500 to 33,750 homes. There’s definitely a certain poetic justice in Chevron’s dirty oil money being used to help bring more clean, green solar energy into the mix. But don’t go changing your opinion of the company just yet.
Chevron clearly has no intention of changing its core business from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. The solar is just window dressing, meant to mask the supremely dirty business going on inside the shop. In fact, between January 2009 and June 2010, Chevron spent more than $28 million on lobbying and PAC contributions to federal candidates in order to protect its oil business, according to the Center for American Progress. The positive benefits of the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project will easily be negated by Chevron continuing its dirty business as usual.
All of which demonstrates why Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign is so ripe for the spoofing. The campaign is drastically, epically overreaching. You can spend your millions on fancy ad campaigns all you want, Chevron, but you’re not fooling anyone. We’re not that naive. We do not agree with your business model, which is dirty and always will be as long as it’s centered on oil.
Are you frustrated with Big Oil’s greenwash like me? You can help punk Chevron’s ad campaign too. Put up spoof Chevron ads in your community, then post pics of your handiwork on the interwebs for the world to see. And if your creative-punking juices are really flowing, the Yes Men are holding a contest to see who can create the best spoof Chevron ad.