No Merit Badge For This ExxonMobil Boy Scout by Walter Brasch, March 02, 2014, Insurancenews.net
Michael Whitten, who represents Tillerson, told the Wall Street Journal his client was primarily concerned about the impact the tower would have upon property values. Rex W. Tillerson isn’t your typical resident. He’s the CEO and the chairman of the board of ExxonMobil, the third largest corporation in the world, and the company that leads all others in exploring, drilling, extracting and selling oil and gas. It’s also a company that has had more than its share of political, social and environmental problems. Tillerson was an engineer when the Exxon Valdez fouled the southern shore of Alaska in 1989. By 2004, he was the company’s president.
In 2012, Tillerson earned $40.3 million in compensation, including salary, bonus and stock options, according to Bloomberg News. His company that year had $453 billion in revenue and a net income of about $45 billion, according to Bloomberg. When you have that much money, every million or so dollars matters, especially if a large ugly tower impacts not just your view but your quality of life and the value of your property.
Large ugly rigs, the kind that go up when ExxonMobil and other companies begin fracking the earth, also affect people. The well pads average about eight acres, all of which have to be cut mostly from forests and agricultural areas. Access roads, some of which upset or destroy the ecological balance of nature, need to be built. Other roads receive heavier-than-anticipated damage because of the number of trucks, often more than 200 a day, that travel to each well site. As early as 2010, a PennDOT official told the state’s legislature that the cost, at that time, to fix the roads was more than $260 million. Increased diesel emissions, concentrated in agricultural areas, also affect the health and safety of the people. The noise from the traffic and from around-the-clock drilling affect people, causing stress and numerous health issues, according to psychologists Diane Siegmund and Kathryn Vennie, both of whom live in the Marcellus Shale part of Pennsylvania.
When the rigs go up, all property values decrease. Banks and mortgage companies are refusing to lend money to families who wish to take out second mortgages or who wish to buy property that has wells on it or is even near a well pad. Insurance companies are not writing policies, even if the homeowner opposes drilling but whose home is near those well pads.
In 2012, Rex W. Tillerson said that opponents of fracking are manufacturing fear, and then laid out a corporate truth when he said that his company has in place “risk mitigation and risk management practices to ensure (oil and gas development) can be developed in a way that mitigates risk – it doesn’t eliminate it, but when you put it into the risk versus benefit balance, it comes back into a balance that most reasonable people in society would say, ‘I can live with that.'”
Thus, the energy industry is telling the people there will be accidents. There will be deaths. There will be health and environmental consequences. But, they are acceptable because “mitigation” allows a corporation to accept errors, injuries, illnesses, environmental destruction and even death if they believe there is a “greater [financial] good” that outweighs those risks. It is the same argument that Ford used in the 1970s when it decided the cost to recall and repair the Pinto – about $120 million, or about $11 a car – would be far greater than the cost to pay for injuries and deaths, about $50 million.
There is something more about Rex W. Tillerson. He’s proud of his association with the Boy Scouts. He’s a former Eagle Scout and was president of the national Boy Scouts of America. (Both the Boy Scouts and ExxonMobil have their headquarters in Irving, Texas.) Part of the Scout Oath is to “do your duty to God and your country.” A partial interpretation of that is “by working for your country’s good and obeying its laws, you do your duty to your country.” Within the past six months, ExxonMobil has paid more than $5 million in fines and penalties for not obeying the country’s laws.
The 12th part of the Scout Law is to be reverent. A widely accepted interpretation of that law, according to Scouting Trail, is: “As a Scout experiences the wonders of the outdoors, stormy weather and calm blue skies, pounding surf and trickling streams, bitter cold and stifling heat, towering trees and barren desert, he experiences the work of God. We need to play the role of steward rather than king – tending and caring for our world instead of taking all we can for our own comfort.”
Protesting the construction of a water tower because it might lower property values is Tillerson’s right as a citizen. But destroying God’s world is not his right. [Emphasis added]