BP’s Long History Of Greenwashing and Accidents

British Petroleum quit the Global Climate Coalition, the climate change denial group funded by the oil industry, in 1998, thus beginning its green marketing campaign. Two years after British Petroleum merged with Amoco and changed its name to BP Amoco, it shortened its name to BP. The same year, BP unveiled its new slogan, “Beyond Petroleum,” and a new logo. During the first quarter of this year, BP raked in $73 million, but only $700 million (less than two percent) were for alternative energy.

Five years after it began to market itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” an explosion occurred at a Texas City refinery in 2005. The explosion killed 15 people and injured 170. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined BP $21 million for safety violations. In an excerpt from Anna Lappe’s new book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It, she says that the safety violations were connected to budget cuts.

One year later, a BP pipeline leak dumped 267,000 gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay “caused by failing equipment that environmental advocates had earlier red-flagged for a fix,” according to Lappe. The company did not detect the leak for days. It was the worst onshore oil spill in the state’s history. Congressional investigations found that the spill was caused by BP’s negligence and cost-cutting.

BP is the second largest producer of fossil fuels, according to a recent Mother Jones’ article. BP also has the highest number of explosions and other incidents at its US refineries, and made the Multinational Monitor’s 10 Worst Companies lists in 2000 and 2005, based on its environmental and human rights record.

In 2007, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) fined BP for violations related to an almost blowout at an offshore rig in 2002. The same year, a customer survey found that BP had the reputation as the most environmentally friendly oil company. The “Beyond Petroleum” campaign also won the Gold Award from the American marketing Association in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, BP reported that its brand awareness increased from 4 to 67 percent.

BP’s chief executive of American operations, Robert Malone said in 2006, “There is no doubt in my mind, what happened may not have broken the law, but it broke our values.” It seems BP’s values stayed  broken despite.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.