As Their Oil Floods Arkansas Neighborhoods, Exxon Wins National Safety Award

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Isn’t this the definition of ironyThe National Safety Council (NSC) honored Exxon Mobil with an award for “comprehensive commitment to safety excellence” at the same time that Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline spewed an estimated 84,000 gallons of tar sands crude through the yards of residents in Mayflower, Arkansas. 

From The Huffington Post:

“It is evident that ExxonMobil is committed to excellence in safety, security, health and environmental performance,” said NSC president Janet Froetscher, who presented the award to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. “The Council is honored to recognize ExxonMobil with the Green Cross for Safety medal. This organization is a wonderful example of the role corporations can play in preventing injuries and saving lives.”

Not only should the recent spill have caused the NSC to hesitate about giving the company an award for outstanding commitment to safety, but the company’s resolve to clean up their disaster has also been called into question.

DeSmogBlog’s Carol Linnit pointed out last week that a tax loophole allowed Exxon to be exempt from paying into the national oil spill cleanup fund, meaning U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook for the spill.

But current disasters aside, there is absolutely nothing in Exxon’s corporate history that warrants any form of “safety” award.

Excluding the Pegasus pipeline rupture, the company has experienced at least two significant oil disasters in the last five years, including contamination spills in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Yellowstone.  The company has also been implicated in an oil spill that took place for several decades at a refinery operation in Brooklyn.  And of course, we can’t forget the 11 million gallons of crude oil that the company spilled in Prince William Sound in 1989 with the Exxon Valdez spill. 

With this sordid history of calamity and complete disregard for safety, human lives, and the environment, how could the NSC possibly award the company for both their “commitment to safety” and “environmental stewardship?”

While the NSC is legally listed as a non-profit, non-partisan organization, their internal makeup is a good indicator of the true nature of the group. 

A quick examination of the National Safety Council’s board of directors shines some light on why they would honor a company with such an abysmal safety record.  Their board is stacked with current and former Exxon executives, current executives within the dirty energy industry, and plenty of representatives from the chemical sector, including some higher ups from Monsanto and DuPont.

The NSC is just another industry-packed organization whose only purpose is to further the goals of their pals in industry.  The real problem is that the mainstream media has failed to connect the dots between Exxon and the National Safety Council.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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