Shell Praised for Fixing Climate Problem it Helped Create


PROVIDENCE — The Shell Oil Co. is a big polluter in Rhode Island, but the fossil fuel giant is getting some positive publicity for helping to fix a problem it’s accused of creating.

Shell, based in Houston and the Netherlands, has a massive terminal at the Port of Providence that is drawing legal action from groups for its failure to address climate change.

In July, the Rhode Island attorney general sued Shell and 20 fossil fuel companies for contributing to climate change, knowing the impacts and failing to act on them.

The Conservation Law Foundation is also suing Shell for not safeguarding its waterfront gas and oil storage facility from climate change consequences such as flooding and sea-level rise.

The multinational corporation, however, was recently recognized at a press event at Save The Bay for contributing to a new federal grant program. With its logo prominently displayed, Shell was applauded, along with the reinsurance company TransRe and federal agencies, for supporting coastal restoration projections.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has been a persistent critic of the oil industry and companies such as Shell for funding climate change-denial campaigns and stalling legislation while knowing the risks of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

But at the Nov. 9 press event, Whitehouse said praise is warranted for good efforts, especially local ones, by companies that might otherwise be “deliberately unhelpful to solve the climate problem.”

“These are big organizations and they sometimes do good things and those should be celebrated. And they sometimes do very bad things — let’s just leave it at that,” Whitehouse said.

Any effort to address climate change in Washington, D.C., is going to depend on the fossil fuel industry stopping its “mischievous efforts” to undo and obstruct efforts to address climate change, Whitehouse added.

He urged other companies with good policies on climate change to help the cause.

“The fault lies not only in the fossil-fuel industry but also in other American corporations that have terrific climate policies but don’t bring that sensibility to Congress with them,” Whitehouse said.

In the press release announcing the grants, the term “climate change” is absent. Instead the announcement uses terms such as “coastal resilience” and refers to rebuilding after hurricanes and safeguarding vulnerable coastal areas.

The press release quotes Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who has said he believes that global temperatures are rising but said the evidence doesn’t clearly explain why and supports “encouraging technology to burn clean burning coal.”

Of the $28.5 million awarded to 22 states and Puerto Rico, Rhode Island received less than 1 percent, or $280,140. The money will earn a match of $347,000 that will pay to identify 10 future projects that repair and reinforce coastal areas that are at risk to climate change. Whitehouse said the funds are a foothold for future grants.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded the first grants through the new National Coastal Resilience Fund, which was created by Whitehouse and Kennedy.

NFWF is an independent nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.. Its 30-member board of directors is approved by the secretary of interior, which at the moment is friend-of-industry Ryan Zinke.

According to its website, NWFW doesn’t single out polluters. “NFWF neither advocates nor litigates. Instead, the foundation specializes in bringing all parties to the table — individuals, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporations — to build a better future for our world.”

This neutral stance was evident in the press release.

“Through this latest partnership with private industry and NFWF, the Department of Commerce and NOAA will continue our mission to ensure the safety and long-term prosperity of the millions of Americans who call America’s coasts home,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is quoted.

“Shell was there for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and there for Houston after Hurricane Harvey,” said Bruce Culpepper, chair and president of Shell’s U.S operations.


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  1. If Coastal Resilience is but moving houses back or up one full level to avoid sea level rise at the tax payers expense as well as planting Eel grass along the existing shoreline, we are so-so wrong in our approach. Watch Sinking Cities !!! I have watch two episodes thus far. As for the Eeel Grass, back in 2012 I did a paper on the Mutual Realtionship of Eeel Grass and Muscles, where I found out that with only the right environment conditions will one acre of Eel Grass possibly be re-established within one hundred years. See and . The future is in creating FLOATING CITIES. Also, it must be noted that Urbanization mass development with its impervious services rather than cobblestones or …… is problematic given more rainfall is expected. Streets are already overwhelmed with flash flooding.
    Rain gardens and riparian buffers can only do so much. Meanwhile Solar Sprawl is all over the news, where woodlands and wildlife are very much in jeopardy. I have suggested more than once to some that we should be utilizing parking lots like Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts has done . Climate Change resilience requires that we ALL do our part as a community to ADAPT to our changing Mother EARTH and lead a simpler life now. Last year I sent out this :

                                              What will you give Mother Earth this Christmas?

    Gift ideas:

    You will help to reduce deforestation by buying products without Palm oil and buy recycled
    paper goods.
    You will reuse water and man made containers on top of recycling more.
    You will walk, ride a bike, car pool or commute to more places.
    You will buy less materialistic objects to reduce emissions, water and fossil fuel consumption.
    You will buy from second hand stores to help reduce emissions, water consumption and fossil
    fuel consumption.
    You will plant native vegetation for pollinators and thus transform your yard to having less grass.
    You will plant a native tree that is disease resistant and….. that helps to shelter wildlife, while also
    providing them with food.
    You will conserve water and electricity on top of lowering the thermostat, etc..
    You will not use plastic shopping bags, but instead reusable, canvas bags, when shopping.
    You will be more organized with running errands to help reduce air pollution.
    You will fix automobile fluid leakage.
    You will use less harmful chemicals.
    You will try to buy things without packaging maybe even going to the extreme of making things
    yourself like soap.
    You will try to lead a simple life.
    You will advocate for wildlife and Mother Earth!

                                                                                      Deborah Vine-Smith

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