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Friday, May 27, 2005

ExxonMobil: Living in the past

A group of ExxonMobil shareholders Wednesday failed to get the oil giant to adopt a resolution that would have mandated a study on the environmental risks of oil drilling in sensitive locations, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The company is expected to be a leading player in the search for oil if ANWR is opened to exploration.

The resolution, calling for a "biodiversity impact report," can be found here. It was brought forward by the US Public Interest Research Group, and socially responsible investing firms Green Century Capital Management and Clean Yield Asset Management. It received "yes" votes from only 8.1 percent of ExxonMobil shareholers.

Getting stronger support, but still not passing, was another shareholder resolution asking ExxonMobil to disclose its plans for complying with greenhouse gas reduction targets in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol. This resolution received 28 percent support from shareholders.

ExxonMobil shares the Bush administration's fringe position that the science on climate change is "inconclusive." Yet another shareholder resolution called on ExxonMobil to document its sources for this claim, but received only 10.3 percent support (though that was an increase from last year).

Said Pat Daly, executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investing: “Our primary concern is that, unlike other oil and gas companies, ExxonMobil has no plans to transform the company so it can live in a carbon-constrained world.”

All this contrasts harshly with glossy ads ExxonMobil is running in major magazines lately, including recent issues of The New Yorker that, ironically, contained an eye-opening three-part series on global warming. "We're all for reducing emissions," the ads read. "ExxonMobil refineries capture steam that would otherwise be wasted and use it in the refining process. Recent energy-savinng initiatives like this have had a dramatic effect on emissions: the equivalent of taking well over a million cars off the road, every year."

They don't mention that this is old technology that has been used in other refineries and industrial facilities for many years as a cost-saving measure.

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