Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

A green oil industry: a contradiction in terms..

greening-of-oilNo one would like to consider their job to be an oxymoron, essentially a contradiction in terms.

But that is what you could describe the job title for the editor of a new online magazine called “Greening of oil magazine”.

The new mag says it will be dedicated to “tracking energy’s environmental footprint”, but you could argue that the only way to green the oil industry is to disinvest out of the black stuff. Simple as that.

Because you can’t have a green oil industry.  History shows us that.

But undeterred, Greening of Oil says it will be an “Independent” voice in the energy debate. It says that “Greening of Oil is a science-based, online magazine that tracks the  environmental footprint of fossil fuels, scrutinizing what is being done to make hydrocarbons a more earth-friendly energy source during what is expected to be a decades-long shift to cleaner and cleaner power.”

The magazine will also tracks the environmental impact of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, just as so there is a balance.

At first glimpse the magazine, it looks like the magazine will be the equivalent of repainting the deck-chairs on the Titanic green.

So it examines how emerging drilling techniques will supposedly reduce the environmental footprint of Shell drilling programme offshore in Alaska, but the article misses the point about whether Shell should ever be allowed there in the first place.

And in the wake of the failure of Copenhagen, the magazine writes about Statoil’s efforts to reduce emissions from its tar sands operations in Canada, through promoting unproven CCS technology. Once again the wider debate about the huge ecological impact of the tar sands is missing.

If Greening of Oil produces really critical, investigative and informative stories about the oil industry that assists the move towards clean energy that would be great. But if it turns out to be nothing more than a slightly green technical look at the oil industry, it will be a severe disappointment.

Furthermore, its not quite as independent as it may at first seem.

Greening of oil magazine is being run by  Petroleum News, which a weekly oil and gas newspaper in of Alaska and northern Canada. Although it seems to pride itself that it is independent of the industry, Petroleum News also produces a book called “Dispelling the Alaska Fear Factor: A guide to Alaska’s oil and gas basins and business environment.” That seems a good title for oil industry propaganda.

I am not the only one who has picked up on this apparent contradiction.

Tom Fowler is an energy blogger for the Houston Chronicle. Blogging about the magazine’s launch last week he asked: “Can a publication whose creators have their roots in the fossil fuels industry write about the environmental record of the business without sounding like an extension of company PR departments?”

Well only time will tell on that one…

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