Big Oil Called Out on 'Greenwashing' Campaign

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Big Oil Called Out on 'Greenwashing' Campaign

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is criticizing a number of big oil companies -- ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP -- for allegedly donating millions of dollars to "buy respectability by capitalizing on the name of a well-known university," the organization said in a written statement.

ConocoPhillips recently gave $6 million to the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics. ExxonMobil also recently gave $100 million to Stanford University, while BP announced a $500 million program to create the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California Berkeley, the organization stated, calling the donations examples of "Big Oil U."

"Big Oil, an industry that has made billion at the expense of the environment, is trying to clean up its deservedly dirty image by associating with well-known universities," said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate for the FTCR. "Independent academic activities are too important to let them be sold to Big Oil companies that want to greenwash their image."

Dave Gardner, spokesman for ExxonMobil, called the claims "silly accusations," but declined to say more.

For the donation given to the University of Oklahoma, President David L. Boren said he was recommending to the board of regents that the school be renamed the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, the FTCR stated.

"For a paltry $6 million, Conoco gets naming rights to the school and an industry friendly professor to spout their warped view of the world in an academic environment. We call on the regents to reject this deal," said Simpson.

"Big Oil has an image problem," said Simpson. "We cannot allow them to fix it by turning our respected colleges and universities into 'Big Oil U.'"

ConocoPhillips and BP did not return calls by press time.