You CAN Resist Exxon and Oil in Texas
by Cassady Craighill
May 30, 2017
While “Exxon” and “oil” may be dirty words at Greenpeace, they both enjoy a certain level of protection in Dallas, Texas. So as it turns out, if you want to run a billboard in the Lone Star State using either one of those words, you might hit some roadblocks.
© Mike Stone / Greenpeace
That’s exactly what our team at Greenpeace faced this month. We wanted to put up two billboards in Dallas ahead of Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting to raise awareness about the company’s history of misleading the public on climate change while slowing progress on renewable energy transitions. The company’s May 31st meeting comes on the heels of its annual energy outlook which includes estimates for oil demand and likely oil profits that are starkly inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the international climate treaty that Exxon has said it supports.
But as we designed our billboards, we realized how difficult this process was going to be. We were told by the company that owns the billboard space that we could not directly use the words “Exxon” or “oil.” In one of our final designs, using approved text, we were again turned down until we removed an image of the company’s former CEO and current secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Luckily, Greenpeace has a thermal airship that we can fly with any message we want. While we asked supporters to vote on their favorite sans-Exxon message for the on-the-ground billboards (more on those results in a minute), the Greenpeace team in Dallas launched our airship with the message “You Pay the Price for Exxon’s Greed.” Profit is the only motivation for companies like Exxon, at the expense of communities and neighborhoods in the United States, including Texas, which is already experiencing the impacts of climate change.
It turns out that Greenpeace supporters have quite the sense of humor! When faced with a selection of messages, you chose “Warning: Climate Denial is Fake News.” Love it! We took this winning message one step further using the space to depict a Twitter conversation between @WayneTracker and @GreenpeaceUSA about climate denial. Wayne Tracker is the email alias former Exxon CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used at Exxon to send emails about climate risks. Follow @WayneTracker today to get the full scoop about what Exxon and former CEO Rex Tillerson knew about the risks of climate change.
We used a runner-up message for the second billboard that perfectly captures the balance of the climate movement right now- sustained resistance to fossil fuels and collective persistence towards community-powered renewable energy.
As we’ve seen on a near weekly basis, people power is making it harder and harder for Trump and his special interest allies, like Rex Tillerson and Exxon, to carry out agendas for the 1 percent and fossil fuel executives with outdated and harmful business models. If the resistance can take on the President of the United States, we can take on Exxon. We cannot let oil companies get credit for supporting agreements like the Paris deal one minute while profiting off oil and gas which contributes to catastrophic climate change. During one of the company’s most public moments, Exxon and its shareholders will see bold messages of public pressure no matter where they look in Dallas. Exxon knows that the age of oil is nearly over. People and communities in this country deserve and want lifestyles powered by renewable energy and we cannot let Exxon’s greed get in the way.