Tag Archives: ExxonMobil

Environmentalists react as ExxonMobil probe is referred to FBI

The U.S. Department of Justice has referred to the FBI’s criminal division a request by two congressmen for a federal probe into ExxonMobil funding of climate denial.

Reaction from environmental groups …

RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, responded, “Thanks to Rep. Ted Lieu and his determination, the FBI is finally going to see all the evidence — how Exxon publicly distorted science, funded deniers to further manipulate public opinion and set back political will decades.”

At the Center for International Environmental Law, president Carroll Muffett said,  “The formal referral by the Department of Justice means that the FBI must now take real steps to evaluate the serious allegations against ExxonMobil. The bureau will do so amid a growing body of evidence that Exxon was well aware of the threats of climate change, even as it publicly distorted these threats by funding misinformation campaigns.

Muffett continued, “The timing of this revelation is particularly significant for Exxon, which just brought to market its biggest bond sale on record — $12 billion — in the midst of an ongoing crash in global oil prices.  Exxon already faces a potential downgrade from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.  The referral demonstrates for both the public and investors that the legal risks facing Exxon and other fossil fuel producers are real, they are significant, and they are now imminent. The bad news for Exxon is that the disclosures to date are only the tip of what is almost certainly a very large iceberg of documentary evidence.”

“ExxonMobil’s climate deceit, built on decades of knowingly false statements to federal and state officials and the public, was no garden-variety consumer fraud,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. “It cries out for FBI scrutiny because it has put lives and property at risk on a scale equal to the corporation’s global reach.”

“This FBI investigation must quickly lead back to a full Department of Justice inquiry and, ultimately, legal action. There’s too much public pressure and action by state Attorney Generals for this case to disappear into a bureaucratic black hole. Exxon knew about climate change, they misled the public, and it’s time for them to be held to criminal account,” said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn.

“Exxon has already cost us decades of meaningful climate action and policy thanks to its colossal climate denial operation. This development is a step in the right direction to holding it legally accountable,” said Naomi Ages, Greenpeace US climate liability campaigner. “We expect the FBI and the Department of Justice to give this investigation the attention demanded by the American public.”

“ExxonMobil has built its profits by destroying our planet.  With the latest science telling us that the world needs to keep more than 80 percent of its fossil fuels in the ground it is clear that this business model must end.  What’s also becoming clear is that ExxonMobil has known this for decades and they lied to the American people about climate change in order to protect their ill-gotten gains.  We welcome the FBI’s criminal investigation into ExxonMobil’s misconduct,” said Ben Schreiber, of Friends of the Earth-US.

At Paris climate change summit, mayors call for divestment

A group of mayors from around the world issued a letter this week calling on other cities to divest from fossil fuels in order to support the transition to renewable energy.

The letter contains signatures from mayors of Portland, Oregon; Bristol City, UK; Moreland City, Australia; Boxtel, the Netherlands; Santa Monica, California; and more.

“Mayors have a vital role to play in the transition to a new energy economy. It is time we invest in supporting our communities instead of destroying our climate. Please join us and divest from fossil fuels,” the letter states.

In 2013, Seattle became the first city to commit to divesting, followed by Canberra, the first national capital to join the movement. A growing number of cities and local governments have joined the divestment campaign in the lead up to the Paris Climate Talks.

“Cities know firsthand the problems brought about by fossil fuels, from urban air pollution to rising seas,” said 350.org Executive Director, May Boeve. “They’re also seeing the opportunity for reinvestment–the money they take out of companies like ExxonMobil can be then invested in companies that are creating green jobs in their community. These cities are helping move the divest-invest discussion into the realm of public policy, setting an example for state and national governments as they do.”

On Dec. 3, 350.org announced that 20 French cities, including Paris, Dijon and Bordeaux, had endorsed fossil fuel divestment.

In the last few months, major cities like Oslo, Melbourne and Munster have also joined the campaign.

Overall, more than 50 cities around the world have passed some form of divestment commitment, with many more campaigns underway. Total divestment commitments have surged to over 500 institutions representing $3.4 trillion in assets.

“In the lead up to the COP21 Climate Summit for Local Leaders in Paris, we, as concerned mayors and municipalities representatives, are calling on our colleagues to follow our steps and divest their city’s assets away from fossil fuels,” the mayors wrote. “Through divestment, we have accelerated the transition to a sustainable future, we urge you to follow this path.”

Signed by…

Mark Mark Buijs – Mayor of Boxtel, the Netherlands
Councilman Seth Yurdin, Providence, RI, USA
Kitty Piercy, Mayor of Eugene, Oregon, USA
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol City, UK
Kevin McKeown, Mayor of Santa Monica, CA USA
Thomas Donegan, Chair, Board Of Selectmen, Provincetown, MA, USA
Brad Pettit, Mayor, City of Fremantle, Australia
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Mayor of the City of Melbourne, Australia
Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, Oregon, USA
Samantha Ratnam, Councilor, Moreland City Australia
Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo, Norway
Councillor Robert Dryden, Mayor of Cambridge, UK

Green, civil rights groups want ExxonMobil investigated over climate change ‘lies’

The leaders of many of the nation’s largest environmental and civil rights organizations issued a joint letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil.

The groups say the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but decided to mislead the public to maximize profits from fossil fuels.

“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”

Groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop signed the letter, which followed reports by the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News indicating the oil company knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts promoting climate-change denial.

The letter states, “Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change — particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet — and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent — though potentially much greater in scale — than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.”

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders also called on the Justice Department to act.

ExxonMobil gets reduced settlement after toxic pollution in New Jersey

A New Jersey court on Aug. 25 approved a settlement between ExxonMobil and Gov. Chris Christie’s administration over damages due for decades of toxic soil and water contamination in the northern part of the state.

The settlement gives the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the state’s original price tag for restoring and replacing the resources, according to environmental advocates.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with six other environmental groups, made several efforts to block the settlement.

Margaret Brown, an attorney with the NRDC, said, “This is a multi-billion-dollar gift to ExxonMobil from Gov. Christie and his administration, at the expense of New Jersey residents. After a decade-long court battle, this spring the Christie administration abruptly and inexplicably gave the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the damages due for its destruction.

She added, “This is a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to repair environmental damage the state itself called ‘as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.’”

Exxon’s corporate predecessors began operating at Bayonne in 1877, and at the Bayway Refinery in Linden in 1909.

Exxon filled wetlands to develop the sites, spilled petroleum products and other hazardous substances from its refineries and chemical plants onto the land and into the water there, and used natural areas as primitive waste dumps.

In addition to heavy and pervasive contamination at the sites, the pollution migrated to the waters of the Upper New York Bay and the Arthur Kill, which separates Staten Island from mainland New Jersey.

The New Jersey state court held Exxon liable for damages to the sites.

At a trial to fix the amount of damages Exxon would have to pay, the state’s witnesses described once-healthy salt marshes smothered in contaminated fill and other wastes, unlined pits of mixed oily wastes more than 10 feet deep and extensive chemical soil contamination.

The witnesses described the Bayonne site as so saturated with oil that there is more than 15 feet of petroleum waste floating on top of the underlying groundwater in some places. In other places, petroleum has leached from the ground and hardened, creating an asphalt-like material on the surface.

In its final brief before proposing the settlement, the state described the scope of the environmental damage resulting from the discharges “as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.”

The state had originally sought $8.9 billion but the court-approved settlement is for $225 million. The judge described this as a “reasonable compromise.” About $50 million will go to remediation, $50 million to legal costs and the rest to the state’s general fund.

ExxonMobil to offer spousal benefits to married gay employees

ExxonMobil, which for years has resisted appeals for change from shareholders and civil rights advocates, will recognize same-sex marriages and will offer health benefits to the spouses of gay employees.

However, the company has not amended its non-discrimination policy to ban bias based on gender identity or sexual orientation. And apparently it will not reinstate the domestic partnership program that Mobil offered before the merger.

In a statement, ExxonMobil said, “The decision is consistent with the direction of most U.S. government agencies. We have made no change in the definition of eligibility for our U.S. benefit plans. Spousal eligibility in our U.S. benefit plans has been and continues to be governed by the federal definition of marriage and spouse.”

“Granting health benefits to all married couples is a step toward equality, but it is certainly not the kind of leadership exhibited by ExxonMobil’s competitors,” said Deena Fidas, director the workplace equality program for the Human Rights Campaign. “There is no federal law protecting employees from discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity and ExxonMobil refuses to join the majority of their Fortune 500 colleagues in adopting their own such policies.”

Before the merger in 1999 between Mobil Corp and Exxon Corp., Mobil offered health benefits to domestic partners of its employees and prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.

When Exxon acquired Mobil, the non-discrimination policy was eliminated and the domestic partner benefits program was closed to new employees.

In HRC’s rating system for corporations, Chevron, BP, Shell and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher out of a possible 100. ExxonMobil received a minus 25 score. 

A growing number of companies are updating benefits policies to come into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a provision in a 1996 law that barred the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.

Wisconsin congressman urges passage of ENDA, takes on anti-gay ExxonMobil. Video

Openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, in a floor speech June 5, urged passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would ban workplace bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Democrat from Madison also criticized ExxonMobil and its shareholders, who in May rejected a policy to protect LGBT workers from discrimination.

Before a 1999 merger, employees at Mobil were protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and the company also offered health benefits to domestic partners of employees. When Exxon acquired Mobil, it eliminated the partnership benefits and removed the non-discrimination protections.

That fueled a boycott and also work by Human Rights Campaign, the New York City Pension Funds and other groups to change corporate policy through a resolution at the shareholders annual meeting. In 2011, the shareholder proposal received votes representing more than 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion. This year, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli again sponsored the shareholder resolution, which was defeated in late May.

Pocan said on the floor, “This June, as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, LGBT Americans have much to celebrate. Every day this country moves closer and closer towards embracing full equality for all its citizens. And yet, the path toward equality and justice saw a setback last week when one of our nation’s largest companies chose to deny fundamental workplace protections for its employees.”

Regarding ExxonMobil, Pocan said, “This is a company that has received more than $1 billion in government contracts over the past decade. Simply put, the government should not be in business with companies that discriminate.

“Exxon’s decision makes it a part of shrinking minority – 88 percent of Fortune 500 Companies specifically ban employee discrimination based on sexual orientation. BP does not discriminate. Chevron does not discriminate. Shell Oil does discriminate. But ExxonMobil does. And their anti-equality policies should start to hurt their bottom line.”

On the Web…


ExxonMobil shareholders reject nondiscrimination policy

ExxonMobil shareholders have again voted down a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy.

Responding, LGBT activists were critical of ExxonMobil for its refusal to join many other major companies and ban discrimination against LGBT people. They also were critical of the White House and Congress for failure to act on measures to ban workplace bias.

ExxonMobil, according to the Human Rights Campaign, lags behind most of corporate America on its nondiscrimination policy, including its closest competitors in the oil industry. Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in EEO policies and 57 percent include gender identity.

Chad Griffin, president of the HRC, said, “No company has proven itself a worse corporate citizen by betraying its LGBT employees time and again than ExxonMobil. By failing once more to do the right thing, ExxonMobil places itself firmly on the wrong side of history. Fair-minded consumers should take their business elsewhere.”

The activist group GetEqual said, “ExxonMobil continues to dig in its heels to prove that it is one of the most ardent proponents of LGBT discrimination in the country. While ExxonMobil rakes in billions of dollars in federal contracts each year — paid for with taxpayer money – it’s stunning that the company is so actively and blatantly out of step with the three-quarters of the American public who support LGBT workplace protections.”

Mobil and Exxon merged in 1999. Before the merger, employees at Mobil were protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and the company also offered health benefits to domestic partners of employees.

Exxon acquired Mobil, eliminated the partnership benefits and removed the non-discrimination protections.

That fueled a boycott and also work by HRC, the New York City Pension Funds and other groups to change corporate policy through a resolution at the shareholders annual meeting. In 2011, the shareholder proposal received votes representing more than 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion. This year, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli again sponsored the shareholder resolution.

Shareholders at the annual meeting also voted nearly 3-to-1 to reject a proposal to set goals to reduce emissions from its products and operations.

HRC’s Corporate Equality Index gave ExxonMobil a score of negative 25. Chevron, BP, Shell and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher.

In addition to pressing ExxonMobil to change its policy, LGBT leaders are calling on the president to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

HRC, in a statement, said, “As today’s actions show, when bad actors fail to protect their employees Americans need every tool available to protect them from workplace discrimination. ExxonMobil, as a federal contractor, would be forced to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, allowing its LGBT employees to go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love.”

SEC denies oil company request to block pro-gay shareholder resolution

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission has rejected a request from ExxonMobil to block a shareholder resolution adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the company’s non-discrimination policy.

Shareholders are set to vote on the proposal during an annual meeting May 30. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli proposed the resolution.

When Exxon Corp. acquired Mobil Corp more than 10 years ago, Mobil lost domestic partner benefits for new employees. Such benefits never existed at Exxon.

Since then, the Human Rights Campaign and other groups, including the New York City Pension Funds, have pressed for reinstating benefits through the passage of a shareholders’ resolution.

In 2011, the shareholder proposal received votes representing over 500 million shares with a market value of more than $42.4 billion.

“The SEC has cleared a path to progress for the thousands of LGBT people employed by ExxonMobil,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “The company has been aggressively resistant to change and is way out of step with their direct competitors as well as the majority of Fortune 500 companies. Given this opportunity for change, we call on the ExxonMobil shareholders to adopt a legally binding policy that protects all employees. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli deserves special recognition for his ongoing dedication to ensuring good corporate citizenship and for helping ExxonMobil’s LBGT employees.”

On HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, ExxonMobil received a score of negative 25.

In contrast, oil and gas companies such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Spectra received scores of 85 or higher. As of 2012, 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their EEO policy and 50 percent include gender identity.

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