Interesting revelations concerning energy giant BP and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) were made in a March 6th, 2007, article by the Los Angeles Times. The paper revealed that sometime in 2006 the chairman and president of BP America, Bob Malone, asked billionaire Eli Broad – who is heavily financing LACMA’s reconstruction – to recommend causes in L.A. where the oil company “could make a difference.” It was Mr. Broad who first suggested LACMA as a recipient of funds from BP. From then on, Michael Govan, the new Director and Chief Executive Officer of LACMA, enthusiastically cozied up to BP’s top executive officers in London. One can only imagine the exchanges that went on behind those closed doors – but the result was a $25 million “gift” from BP to LACMA and Govan’s pledge to name the museum’s new entry way, “The BP Grand Entrance.” The Times quoted Govan as saying “What was convincing to me was their commitment to sustainable energy…. We won’t make the transition without the help and cooperation of these major corporations.”
Mr. Govan is undeniably a sophisticated fellow who appreciates the mechanisms of wealth and power in our globalized society, but it is entirely out of the question that he is ignorant of the controversies surrounding BP – one of the world’s most rapacious oil companies. Even the briefest exploration of BP’s dismal record will turn up enough facts so as to throw serious doubt upon Govan’s sincerity and credibility – yet he persists in singing the praises of BP, the “sustainable energy” giant. Here we must consider the likelihood that a high-powered PR firm is coaching Govan’s public statements. In the meantime, read what some critics have to say about BP – Mr. Govan’s new found friends in the oil industry.
Green Logo, but BP Is Old Oil. – By Joe Nocera. August 12, 2006. (New York Times) “Yet at its core, BP remains an oil company, and no matter how much it says it wants to create more environmentally sensitive sources of energy, its basic task is still to stick holes in the ground in search of hydrocarbons.”
Behind the spin, the oil giants are more dangerous than ever. – By George Monbiot. Tuesday June 13, 2006. (The Guardian) “The green rebranding of Shell and BP is a fraud. Far from switching to biofuels, it’s drilling and devastation as usual (…) BP’s rebranding, like Shell’s, has been so effective that you could be forgiven for believing that it had become an environmental pressure group. These companies have used the vast profits from their petroleum business to create the impression that they are abandoning it.”
Oil Slicks: BP’s new eco-friendly ad campaign makes no sense. – By Daniel Gross. Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002. (slate.com) “If our kids should be so fortunate as to live in a world beyond petroleum, one in which cars, factories, and electricity plants are powered by an alternative power source-hydrogen, fuel cells, electric batteries, ethanol, fission, or fairy dust-it’s a virtual certainty BP won’t be the one to get us there.”
Report slams BP, cites organization, safety deficiencies. – By Edward Iwata. Tue, March 20th, 2007. (USA TODAY) “A federal report Tuesday blasted energy giant BP for sweeping ‘organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels’ that led to the 2005 fire and explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 and injured 180. In its largest investigation ever, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board found in a 335-page report that 25% budget cuts at BP’s plants, including Texas City, ‘left the Texas City refinery vulnerable to a catastrophe.’ (….) ‘After the 2005 disaster, OSHA fined BP $21 million – its largest penalty in history – for 300 safety violations.
BP chief fields barrage of questions on ethics. – By Andrew Clark. Friday April 20, 2001. (The Guardian) “5% of investors voted for BP to withdraw from its shareholding in Beijing-controlled PetroChina (….) PetroChina is planning to build an oil pipeline through Tibet. Opponents, including the Dalai Lama, say this threatens local culture and will lead to large-scale population transfer (….) The International Campaign for Tibet, suggested BP’s new slogan ‘Beyond Petroleum’ should be changed to ‘Beijing’s Partners’or ‘Backing Persecution’. He said BP was ‘utilizing every arcane and legalistic tool to stifle debate on the matter.'”