Let me start by acknowledging that there is enormous need in the wake of hurristorm Sandy. Staten Island, New Jersey, Long Island, the Rockaways. There is a lot to do, a ton to clean up, thousands displaced and struggling.
That said: Ugh.
ExxonMobil continues to work to support distribution of gasoline and fuel throughout the area affected by Hurricane Sandy and is donating $1 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief assistance in New York, New Jersey and the Caribbean.
“Hurricane Sandy has had a devastating impact on people and communities along the east coast and in the Caribbean,” said Andrew W. Madden, vice president of supply and transportation, ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Company. “It’s our hope that ExxonMobil’s donation to the Red Cross will help provide comfort to those affected and help people rebuild their lives as quickly as possible.”
This is from a public relations statement from (obviously) ExxonMobil. It starts by assuring everyone that it is still selling gasoline so don’t worry about that, oh, and also it is donating to the Red Cross. $1 million — or 0.01 percent of its after-tax profits from 2011. Which, to put it in perspective, would be like someone who made $50,000 after taxes giving $5. Or, to more accurately put it in perspective, it would be like someone who makes $50,000 after taxes giving $5 after spending decades causing pollution that almost certainly made the storm far, far worse than it otherwise would have been. “Yeah, that’s not my fault, but here’s $5. Oh, and, also? If you want to pollute more, we’re selling the stuff that lets you do that.”
There is definitely value (over the short term) in making gas available. The region has been wracked with shortages, a critical problem given how many electrical generators rely on gasoline. So in addition to providing lots of gasoline for sale, ExxonMobil went a step further:
An ExxonMobil Fuel Finder mobile application and station locator website has been updated to notify consumers which independently owned Exxon and Mobil stations in the New York and New Jersey metro area have electricity and may be operating.
Hey, cool! An app that helps me find gasoline! Good stuff. When it loads, it says, “Think CLEAN,” because kids love irony. Here’s what the map shows for gas stations near my house.
(If you’re curious, the blue pins are Mobil and the red ones are Exxon.) Only one gas station on the Upper West Side? Huh. Here is a Google map showing all of the various actual gas stations near me.
So, yeah, thanks Exxon, for providing me only with opportunities to buy your particular brand of fuel. I hope my car doesn’t run out of gas crossing the George Washington Bridge to get it.
ExxonMobil is hoping to turn Hurricane Sandy into a PR boon. That million dollars will definitely do some good. But positive public relations? Fuck. That.