Is Big Oil the Next Big Tobacco?

As Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands announce their own investigations of Exxon Mobil, joining New York and California, there’s a distinct echo of what happened to tobacco companies years ago.

The four governments are trying to determine if Exxon Mobil misled the public and investors about the risks of climate change. A bit of déjà vu harking back to tobacco companies denying that tar and nicotine from their cigarettes didn’t give people lung cancer?

At a news conference, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said if fossil fuel companies have deceived the public and investors about the effects of burning their petroleum, they “must be held accountable.”

Exxon responded by declaring the investigations “politically motivated” and “preposterous.”

A series of reports in the Los Angeles Times last year contended that Exxon’s own scientists had warned that climate could change based on burning fossil fuels many years ago but that the company had not acted on the warnings.

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that a proposed climate change resolution the company disliked must be included on the company’s stockholder proxy voting form.

The Rockefeller Family Fund, born out of earnings from oil companies that eventually became Exxon Mobil, has announced it will eliminate its holding of Exxon Mobil and sell all fossil fuel companies in its portfolio.

Fixed towers suck in cooler air 100 feet high and recirculate it to street level. There are no moving parts. The technology was adapted from the centuries-old practice of using a tube to bring air from higher up into tents to cool nomadic peoples.

Fixed towers suck in cooler air 100 feet high and recirculate it to street level. There are no moving parts. The technology was adapted from the centuries-old practice of using a tube to bring air from higher up into tents to cool nomadic peoples.

All of which reminds me that when I recommended adding SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) to our portfolio two years ago, I had just returned from the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. There I confronted a Middle Eastern oil sheik who was extolling efforts to build solar power plants across the deserts of the Middle East.

“Why,” I asked, “would you pay a fortune to build solar plants when you can pump oil out of the ground beneath for less than $3 a barrel?”

“Because,” he said, “before long, the world will turn on anyone or any country that burns petroleum the way the Americans turned on tobacco companies.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi continues to invest heavily in its new city called Masdar, the only carbon-neutral town on the planet.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. To read more in-depth articles on the prospects for success for solar energy as well as other cutting-edge technology updates and how you can benefit from owning the hidden companies driving the biggest advances in high-tech right now, click here to subscribe to Breakthrough Technology Alert written by Stephen Petranek.

The Daily Reckoning