By Isabel Ordonez
The energy world’s own version of Davos, being held in Houston, is attracting its own version of the anti-Davos movement as well. With a live pig.
Exxon-Mobil’s Rex Tillerson
The attendance of some of the globe’s top energy executives — including Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Rex Tillerson and Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Peter Voser — at the IHS CERA Week energy conference became a good opportunity for a local group, Good Jobs Great Houston, to raise their voice across the fancy hotel where the conclave is held. In addition to the live pig, there were several people in pig costumes, supposed to represent the top 1%.
Sophie Lucas, a spokeswoman for the group which gathered some 80 protesters, says they want the “world’s wealthiest oil tycoons and energy companies to pay their fair share of taxes.”
To make their point clear, some demonstrators held portraits of Tillerson and Voser. A man with a speakerphone was shouting, and encouraging others to shout, “welcome to Houston, pay your taxes.”
It’s rare in a city like Houston–whose raison d’etre seems to be devoted to the pursuit of oil wealth – to see an event like this, but it seems to underscore that the fire sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement also has a home here.
The protests come in the context of a bid by the U.S. Administration to reduce tax breaks for oil companies (as well as talk about tax increases for the wealthy to help pay for the deficit). While protesters say an increase in taxes would help generate jobs, oil executives say higher taxes will force them to go elsewhere and slow down the development of the U.S. energy patch.