It is no secret that oil companies spy on environmental activists. Outside firms are contracted by companies who often hire ex-FBI, NSA, and CIA agents to do the spying. Sometimes they infiltrate groups directly by sending posers to planning meetings or events such as public hearings, protests and rallies. Often, they use electronic surveillance to tap into emails and phone calls. They have even been known to dig through trash receptacles outside of targeted organization offices.
The American Petroleum Institute, a national trade association that represents America’s oil and gas industry, pays firms for intelligence on environmentalists, NGO’s and their respective environmental campaigns.
I guess you could say I do my fair share of surveillance on the oil industry given that I routinely take pictures of their leaking oil wells, ruptured pipelines, crumbling infrastructure, and ecological destruction. Yet, while industry invests big $$ in spying on individual activists, there rarely seems to be any counter-punch to those humans engaged in this activity. Moreover, those individuals getting paid millions of dollars while actively destroying our planet are rarely exposed.
Instead, we point the finger at huge multinational corporations that insulate the humans from any personal accountability. We get mad at Shell or BP or Chevron instead of actual human beings that are making the decisions on behalf of these companies. This has never sat right with me and I have always thought that we need to expose the actual humans that are putting profits over clean air and water.
At a recent Lease Sale in New Orleans for offshore drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico, I decided to document at least some of the human faces directly involved in destroying our planet. Heck, some of them were taking pictures of me and the other environmentalists that showed up to protest, so why not? You can bet the American Petroleum Institute was there. Have a look below at some of the people destroying our beloved planet. To put it simply, these humans were caught in the act by placing bids on the right to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico at a time when we humans can no longer afford to do so if we want to continue living on this planet. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep the Gulf’s remaining oil and gas in the ground while igniting a renewable energy future.
Jonathan Henderson is the Founding President of Vanishing Earth.