Don’t be fooled

Apr 18, 2001 at 12:00 am
If it's spring, it must be time for Earth Day, and if it's Earth Day ... you can bet it's time for a heavy dose of corporate "greenwashing."

Greenwashing occurs when a notorious corporate polluter rushes out a touchy-feely ad campaign associating it's name with Bambi or butterflies in a cynical effort to gloss over the corporation's gross record of environmental contamination with a green PR image of environmental sensitivity.

However, a watchdog group call Earth Day Resources has applied some gloss remover to the 10 worst greenwashers with it's "2001 Don't Be Fooled Awards."

Heading the list of dishonorees is BP-Amoco, which launched a multimillion-dollar ad blitz last year to proclaim that the initials BP no longer stand for British Petroleum, but for "Beyond Petroleum."

Brandishing a new abstract logo of a yellow-and-green sunflower, the world's largest oil company now asserts that its chief concern is Mother Earth and it's fuel of choice is Old Mr. Sun.

It would be more honest if BP changed its initials to BS. This giant spends a pittance on solar energy development while it spends billions on oilfield development. Indeed, in this Earth Day season, BP can be found lobbying furiously in Washington to open Alaska's pristine Arctic Wildlife Refuge to BP Amoco's oil wells, roads, and pipelines.

It already has a long rap sheet of environmental crimes in Alaska, including 104 oil spills in one year, and the illegal dumping of hazardous waste near Alaska's once-pristine Prudhoe Bay.

BP is not alone in trying to use green PR to wash its dirty hands — Boise Cascade, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Weyerhaeuser, DuPont, and Royal Dutch Shell are among the greenwashers caught red-handed by Earth Day Resources' "Don't Be Fooled" report.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... To get a copy of the report, call 213-251-3690. Jim Hightower's latest book, If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, has just been released in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. E-mail