Tag Archives: exxon

Welcome to the United States of Exxon

The Senate today voted to confirm former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. This is a statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica.

Welcome to the United States of Exxon, where Big Oil no longer has to buy off the government because it now actually is the government. Rex Tillerson, the country’s chief Oil Baron, is now the country’s chief diplomat.

Trump and Tillerson are cut from the same cloth — driven by greed and devoid of a moral compass. Only a morally bankrupt president would want his secretary of state to be a man who made his career and his many millions off of vast human suffering, environmental destruction, and climate denial. And only morally bankrupt senators would vote to put him there.

Sens. Collins, McCain, Rubio and Graham have made the world less safe for our children and our children’s children, and we will hold them accountable for that. Shame on Sens. Manchin, Heitkamp, Warner and King. In voting for Tillerson, they have advanced the Trump administration’s Islamophobic, racist, misogynistic and xenophobic foreign policy agenda.

We also recognize the 43 senators who did the right thing, the largest showing of disapproval for a president’s nominee for secretary of state in memory. Their vote against Tillerson is a vote against Trump’s tyranny. With them and with the billions of people in this world who refuse to kowtow to Trump’s tyranny, we will #Resist.

Walker gives green light to Wisconsin nukes

From WiG reports

Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill lifting Wisconsin’s ban on new nuclear plants.

Under prior law, regulators could not approve a new nuclear plant unless a federal facility for storing waste existed and the plant didn’t burden ratepayers.

The new bill, signed five years after the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, erases the storage and ratepayer clauses from the state law enacted in 1983. That was four years after a meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania and three years before the explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

The bill’s Republican authors argued nuclear power is a renewable energy source and the ratepayer language duplicates other sections of state law that require regulators to determine that any new power plant won’t burden customers.

Republican state Rep. Kevin Petersen, in a memo introducing the bill, described nuclear power as affordable, clean, safe and necessary.

Proponents argue Wisconsin needs nuclear options to comply with the Obama administration’s clean power plan requiring energy producers to reduce carbon emissions.

That’s the very argument being made by Koch Industries and other fossil fuel giants who vehemently oppose wind and solar energy. The industry’s sway over Walker and the state’s GOP majority is widely believed to be the reason why green renewables in Wisconsin lag other states in the region.

Since 1997, the Koch brothers have personally spent at least $80 million persuading the public that climate change is a hoax, and Exxon-Mobil and other energy companies have spent many tens of millions more.

Meanwhile, environmentalists view nuclear energy as an unmitigated disaster.

“Nuclear energy is a distraction from realistic, cost-effective methods to reduce carbon emissions in Wisconsin: energy efficiency and renewable energy,” the Clean Wisconsin environmental group said in a statement on AB 384. “Nuclear is exorbitantly expensive and new plants take decades to get up and running.”

According to the Sierra Club, nuclear power has a huge carbon footprint, despite the carbon industry’s claims to the contrary. Carbon energy powers uranium mining, milling, processing, conversion and enrichment, as well as the formulation of fuel rods and construction of plants.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters also opposed the law, referring to it as the “Nuking Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law.” The group urged the public to lobby legislators against allowing nuclear power plants in the state.

The Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter opposed the measure, as did the national Sierra Club, which remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy.”

“Although nuclear plants have been in operation for less than 60 years, we now have seen three serious disasters,” a statement from the environmental group reads. “Nuclear is no solution to climate change and every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on truly safe, affordable and renewable energy sources.”

The Sierra Club’s nuclear-free campaign emphasizes:

• The issue of what to do with the long-lived waste created by the fissioning of uranium remains unresolved.

• Uranium mining has contaminated large sections of the southwestern United States and many other areas in the world.

• Older nuclear plants sit in areas more densely populated than when they were built and almost all leak tritium and other radionuclides into groundwater.

• Newer nuclear plants remain expensive and need enormous amounts of water.

An additional concern in Wisconsin, according to the Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free Coalition, is passage of the pro-nuclear bill could lead to the state becoming a depository for nuclear waste.

The coalition has warned passage of the bill could “send a strong message to the Department of Energy that Wisconsin is open to hosting a nuclear waste repository. In the 1980s, the DOE ranked Wisconsin’s Wolf River Batholith as No. 2 for a second high-level nuclear waste repository. A 2008 Department of Energy study on the Need for a Second Repository listed Wisconsin as one of the top potential states based on our granite geology. After the cancellation of the potential Yucca Mountain repository, the DOE is desperate to find an alternative.”

Wisconsin currently has one operational nuclear power plant, Point Beach, north of Two Rivers.

About 15.5 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity is nuclear, 62.3 comes from coal, 13.2 percent natural gas, 3.4 percent hydroelectric and 5.5 percent renewable.

Find more environmental news at www.wisconsingazette.com.

Read also: Crisis continues five years after Fukushima meltdown

SEC says Exxon Mobil must hold vote on climate change

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled Exxon Mobil Corp must include a climate change resolution on its annual shareholder proxy, a defeat for the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, which had argued it already provides adequate carbon disclosures.

In a letter this week to Exxon seen by Reuters, the SEC said the oil producer cannot keep a proposal spearheaded by New York state’s comptroller from a full shareholder vote at the company’s annual meeting in May.

If approved, the proposal would force Exxon to outline specific risks that climate change or legislation designed to curb it could pose to its ability to operate profitably.

Exxon had argued that the proposal was vague and that it already publishes carbon-related information for shareholders, including a 2014 report on its website entitled, “Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks.”

The SEC found those reports do not go far enough.

“It does not appear that Exxon Mobil’s public disclosures compare favorably with the guidelines of the proposal,” Justin Kisner, an attorney-adviser with the SEC, wrote to the oil producer.

Exxon Mobil declined to comment on the SEC’s ruling.

“We’ll be communicating the board’s recommendations on shareholder resolutions through the proxy document next month,” Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said.

It is not uncommon for companies to give shareholders their opinion on proxy votes. It is unclear whether the proposal, though, has much chance of success. Exxon shareholders have never approved a climate change-related proposal, and last year they rejected by 79 percent a request that a climate expert be appointed to the company’s board.

Nevertheless, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees the state’s $178.3 billion pension fund, called the SEC’s decision a “major victory” for shareholders.

“Investors need to know if Exxon Mobil is taking necessary steps to prepare for a lower carbon future, particularly now in the wake of the Paris agreement,” DiNapoli said in a statement, referring to an agreement last fall by 195 countries to rein in rising emissions that have been blamed for global warming.

Environmentalists cheered the SEC’s decision.

“The SEC has rejected Exxon’s attempt to silence investors’ concerns about the very real financial risks associated with climate change,” said Shanna Cleveland of Ceres, a nonprofit group that tracks environmental records of public companies.

DiNapoli was joined in the SEC filing by the Church of England, the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System, the University of California Retirement Plan and the Brainerd Foundation.

OTHER BATTLES FOR EXXON

The ruling from the SEC comes as Exxon fights other carbon-related battles, including an inquiry by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into whether the company misled the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change.

Exxon has hired a star attorney, Theodore V. Wells, Jr. as it fights the investigation from Schneiderman, who subpoenaed the company for a trove of records, emails and other documentation.

Schneiderman has aggressively fought companies on climate issues for years. Last fall he settled an eight-year investigation with coal producer Peabody Energy to amend its climate change disclosures so that they would be more robust.

Also this week, the Rockefeller Family Fund said it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon.

Shares of Exxon barely moved after the SEC’s ruling, falling 0.2 percent in after-hours trading to $83.63.

New York pension board’s loss fuels divestment argument

The New York State Common Retirement Fund lost at least $5.3 billion from  investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies, according to a new report from Corporate Knights that supports a divestment argument.

New York State’s $189.4 billion pension fund is the third largest in the nation, following California’s CalPERS and CalSTRS, which are now required by law to divest from thermal coal.

The report on the New York fund’s loss comes as politicians, environmentalists and financial experts gather in the state capital for a forum on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act co-sponsored by New York State Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. The bill is the first statewide climate legislation that calls for full divestment from coal, oil and gas.

“The era of fossil fuels is coming to an end, and this report demonstrates very clearly why divestment is not only environmentally sound, but financially responsible,” said Krueger. “By staying invested in fossil fuels over the last three years our state pension fund missed out on over $5 billion in potential returns. Investment in fossil fuels is a sinking ship, and it’s high time we headed for the lifeboats.”

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman continues to Exxon to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.

“New York is a rich state, but perhaps not so rich it can afford to waste billions investing in failing business models — especially when the warming caused by those companies will cost a fortune to deal with!,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “New York has made bold moves for climate such as banning fracking and phasing out coal-fired power plants, yet the pension fund continues to invest in both of these destructive and outdated extraction practices.”

“Our analysis with the Decarbonizer suggests the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s equity portfolio would have been at least $5.3 billion better off had it divested from the biggest oil, gas and coal companies three years ago in favor of companies providing climate solutions,” said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights, an investment research company. “This number is a conservative estimate based on the equities side of the fund. The energy transition away from old fossil fuel energy to new clean energy is underway and investors who cling to fossil fuel holdings risk substantial value destruction over the long-term.”

Activists with 350.org gather to send a message: Divest.
Activists with 350.org gather to send a message: Divest.