As terrible as the Gulf oil spill is, consider this: Over the past 50 years, Shell and other companies have spilled an estimated 1.5 million tons of oil in the Niger Delta. This morning, however, our editors received an email from Shell with fantastic news:
Royal Dutch Shell... [is] announcing sweeping plans to clean up all areas of the Niger Delta where they operate, compensate local communities for past injuries, and institute a local stakeholders program that will contribute to lifting the region out of poverty.The only problem: It turns out to be a hoax. It's a flawless one, though. Unlike some past fake press releases we've received, this one featured convincing press release corporatese, real Shell websites and contact numbers, and many paragraphs of boring legal boilerplate. So the bad news is that Shell isn't going to clean up its act in Nigeria. But the good news: Someone out there (if it's the Yes Men, they're really upping the ante) has provided a public reminder that it'd be a lot cooler if they did.