Lee Raymond

How One UK Climate Denial Think Tank's Links to ExxonMobil Led to its Downfall

This DeSmog UK epic history post examines the demise of one UK free market climate-denying think tank after its funding was linked to ExxonMobil.

Chief executive Rex Tillerson’s decision, made in the ExxonMobil boardroom in Texas, to turn off the flood of funding to free market think tanks resulted in an immediate crisis for Julian Morris and his colleagues at the climate sceptic International Policy Network (IPN) near the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

The oil company had donated $95,000 to the libertarian IPN in 2006, but further funding was in serious jeopardy. According to accounts filed by the charity, “the trustees of IPN UK concluded that the institute’s objective would presently be best achieved primarily through the provision of support to IPN UK’s sister organisation and others, rather than acting directly.”

George W Bush Elected President in 2000 'Floating on Oil Money'

This DeSmog UK epic history series post takes a closer look at ExxonMobil’s contribution to George W Bush’s election as President of the United States.

The 2000 US election cycle was as high stakes as they come. Congressional balance was in question, and the presidency was up for grabs.

The George W Bush–Dick Cheney partnership was Big Oil’s dream team. Bush, the presidential candidate, had made his early career though oil exploration in his home state of Texas, while Cheney, vice president (VP) candidate, was a Halliburton executive and ex-congressman of Wyoming, the US’s biggest coal producer.

How ExxonMobil Reacted When Environmentalists Crashed its First Annual Meeting 15 Years Ago

The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at what happened when environmentalists attended an ExxonMobil meeting in Dallas, Texas.

ExxonMobil and other industry hardliners came together in 1998 to create an “Action Plan” to combat America’s growing fondness for fighting climate change.

This plan would provide a blueprint for undermining the climate movement over the next four years.

But, the environmentalists were well-organised. Having bought shares in ExxonMobil, they attended the corporation’s first annual meeting, held in Dallas in May 2000, and used it as a platform to attack Exxon boss Lee Raymond and the corporation’s policies.

This is What Happened When Oil Giants Exxon and Mobil Joined Forces

Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with the merger between two oil giants, Exxon and Mobil.

A global superpower was created on 30th November 1998, with the $81bn merger between Exxon and Mobil.

The deal was quick on the heels of rival BP’s merger with Amoco, but the ExxonMobil deal outshone that of BP Amoco by billions of dollars.

The Moment When Global Leaders Signed The Kyoto Protocol, And How Industry Responded

Our DeSmog UK epic history series recalls the moment when leaders from around the globe agreed to limit emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Exxon boss, Lee Raymond's attempt to warn the developing world against signing the Kyoto Protocol – which would threaten his business – appeared to be unsuccessful.

At 4am on the 11th December 1997, the leaders of more than 150 countries meeting in Kyoto, Japan agreed – after two years of negotiations – to binding reductions on carbon emissions.

This Is The Man Exxon Chose To Lead Its Effort Against Climate Science

This DeSmog UK epic history post portrays Lee Raymond, the Texan captain who steered the Exxon ship against the rising tide of climate science.

In 1997, BP’s British boss, John Brown, stunned the world by endorsing the science of climate change and calling for government regulation to reduce carbon emissions. Exxon’s Lee Raymond (pictured), however, was an entirely different beast: brash, bullish and brutal.

This real life J.R. Ewing came from working class stock all the way from the Great Plains and fought his way to the top of the oil giant Exxon.

Why ExxonMobil's Partnerships With Russia's Rosneft Challenge the Narrative of U.S. Exports As Energy Weapon

In a long-awaited moment in a hotly contested zone currently occupied by the Russian military, Ukraine's citizens living in the peninsula of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia.

Responding to the referendum, President Barack Obama and numerous U.S. officials rejected the results out of hand and the Obama Administration has confirmed he will authorize economic sanctions against high-ranking Russian officials.

“As I told President Putin yesterday, the referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law and it will not be recognized by the international community,” Obama said in a press briefing. “Today I am announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine.” 

But even before the vote and issuing of sanctions, numerous key U.S. officials hyped the need to expedite U.S. oil and gas exports to fend off Europe's reliance on importing Russia's gas bounty. In short, gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is increasingly seen as a “geopolitical tool” for U.S. power-brokers, as The New York Times explained. 

Perhaps responding to the repeated calls to use gas as a “diplomatic tool,” the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it will sell 5 million barrels of oil from the seldom-tapped Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Both the White House and DOE deny the decision had anything to do with the situation in Ukraine.

Yet even as some say we are witnessing the beginning of a “new cold war,” few have discussed the ties binding major U.S. oil and gas companies with Russian state oil and gas companies.

The ties that bind, as well as other real logistical and economic issues complicate the narrative of exports as an “energy weapon.”

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Buys Fracking Wells In Ohio's Utica Shale

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO and Founder Aubrey McClendon is back in the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) game in Ohio's Utica Shale in a big way, receiving a permit to frack five wells from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on November 26. 

“The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded McClendon's new company, American Energy Utica LLC, five horizontal well permits Nov. 26 that allows oil and gas exploration on the Jones property in Nottingham Township, Harrison County,” a December 6 article appearing in The Business Journal explained. “In October, American Energy Utica announced it has raised $1.7 billion in capital to secure new leases in the Utica shale play.”

McClendon is the former CEO of fracking giant Chesapeake Energy and now the owner of American Energy Partners, whose office is located less than a mile away from Chesapeake's corporate headquarters.

The $1.7 billion McClendon has received in capital investments for the purchase of 110,000 acres worth of Utica Shale land came from the Energy & Minerals GroupFirst Reserve Corporation, BlackRock Inc. and Magnetar Capital.

McClendon — a central figure in Gregory Zuckerman's recent book “The Frackers” — is currently under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange CommissionHe left Chesapeake in January 2013 following a shareholder revolt over his controversial business practices.

In departing, he was given a $35 million severance package, access to the company's private jets through 2016 and a 2.5% stake in every well Chesapeake fracks through June 2014 as part of the Founder's Well Participation Program.

Little discussed beyond the business press, McClendon has teamed up with a prominent business partner for his new start-up: former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond.

The New ExxonMobil: Has the Tiger Changed Its Stripes?

For a decade, now, I’ve been a reporter on climate science. And one of my earliest stories was a Mother Jones cover, exposing ExxonMobil’s funding of think tanks that support climate denialism. The piece was actually nominated for a National Magazine Award. It got around.

With this article and others, I contributed a great deal to a narrative that others, notably Greenpeace and this blog, were also forging: Climate science was under attack by corporate interests; leading the charge was ExxonMobil.

As it turns out, if anything that story now appears more accurate than we knew at the time. But there’s a crucial caveat to it—it may not be so accurate any longer, due to changes at the top of the company.

How do we know this? Simple: We read New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Steve Coll’s new book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. I just reviewed this lengthy work in the journal Democracy. You can read the full review here, but I want to summarize the key salient points regarding climate change (the book covers much more than that) below.

Throughout the First Half of the 2000s, ExxonMobil Was Perhaps Even Worse than We Knew.

For this enviros celebrated the US Election results? Oy!

“The [human] race of which you and I are a part, is great at having consensuses that are in great error. And so I want to get the scientific facts, and find out what the situation is…”

These words were uttered by:

(1) Bjorn Lomborg,

(2) Christopher Monckton,

(3) former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond,

(4) Rep. John Dingell, incoming Democratic chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee

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