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I like the word “Gobsmacked,” because it sounds like what it means: Something completely astonishing, so unbelievable that it smacks you.
For example, on April 3rd, ExxonMobil was scrambling to cope with thousands of barrels of tar sands oil oozing out of a ruptured pipeline in the town of Mayflower, Arkansas. The spreading toxic contamination from the oil giant’s pipeline was awful, but hardly surprising given Exxon’s long record of reckless disregard for our environment, people, and communities.
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So, the gobsmacking news of April third was not that America’s most profitable corporation had yet another spewing disaster on its hands, but that something called the National Safety Council awarded its “Green Cross for Safety” medal that very day to – guess who? – the Contaminator of Mayflower! Presenting the award during an event in Houston, NSC’s president declared with a straight face: “It is evident that ExxonMobil is committed to excellence in safety, security, health, and environmental performance.”
Good grief – while Mayflower was covered in Exxon oil, Exxon was being covered with environmental praise! It was like giving a bird-protection award to a smiling cat with feathers still stuck in its whiskers.
What exactly is the National Safety Council? An industry front. In fact, the green in the “Green Cross” award could refer to the color of money, for both the Exxon corporation and its foundation were top donors to NSC last year. Indeed, the oil corporation has not one, but two representatives on NSC’s board of directors, making Exxon the awarder as well as the awardee of the Green Cross. Not to single it out – past awardee Dow Chemical is also a board member and funder.
Apparently, NSC’s paramount safety concern is for the PR image of its corporate funders.
“Exxon wins safety award as Mayflower sees no end to spill cleanup,” wwww.rt.com, April 5, 2013.
“14 Things You Need to Know About the Horrifying Arkansas Oil Spill,” www.alternet.org, April 8, 2013.
“Oil Devastation in Arkansas — Government Relents and Releases Photos to the Public,” www.alternet.org, April 5, 2013.
“Storm hits Mayflower, Arkansas site of Exxon oil spill. Contaminated water pumped into Lake Conway as citizen journalists report live,” www.treehugger.com, April 11, 2013.