ExxonMobil's (XOM) plunge into alternative energy doesn't mean it is going green. Instead, like its recent decision to proceed with a relatively high-polluting Canadian oil shale project, Exxon's entry in algae-to-fuel research demonstrates yet again its willingness to weather criticism while it pursues a go-it-alone strategy toward investment.

On July 14, Exxon announced that it would spend at least $300 million in an algae-to-fuel research and development deal with J. Craig Venter's Synthetic Genomics--the oil giant's first big investment in biofuels. Previously, CEO Rex W. Tillerson ruled out the prospects for corn-based ethanol, which he called "moonshine," and said that no other current alternative fuel technology is worth investing in, either.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.