EXXON Denial of Climate Change Not Credible

by Duane Nichols on March 31, 2018

Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide and methane

Court Tosses Exxon’s ‘Implausible’ Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Climate Probe

From an Article by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch.com, March 30, 2018

A federal judge on Thursday threw out Exxon Mobil’s lawsuit that sought to derail New York and Massachusetts’ probe into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

Exxon tried to convince U.S. District Court Judge Valerie A. Caproni that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey were infringing on the company’s free speech rights and the AGs were pursuing politically motivated investigations.

But in a searing ruling, Caproni called the company’s claims “implausible” and “a wild stretch of logic.”

“The relief requested by Exxon in this case is extraordinary: Exxon has asked two federal courts—first in Texas, now in New York—to stop state officials from conducting duly-authorized investigations into potential fraud,” she wrote. “It has done so on the basis of extremely thin allegations and speculative inferences.”

Exxon’s allegations rested on statements made at the AGs’ United for Clean Power press conference in March 2016. The company tried to paint Schneiderman and Healey’s participation in the event as a evidence of their political bias against the company.

However, Caproni dismissed that argument, which she considered a result of “cherry-picking snippets from the transcript of the press conference.”

“Some statements made at the press conference were perhaps hyperbolic, but nothing that was said can fairly be read to constitute declaration of a political vendetta against Exxon,” she wrote.

The company’s claims that the AGs “are pursuing bad faith investigations in order to violate Exxon’s constitutional rights are implausible,” the judge continued. She called it a “a wild stretch of logic” for Exxon to contend that the AGs’ comments about public confusion relative to climate change showed any intent to “chill dissenting speech.”

Judge Caproni dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Exxon cannot file it again.

Schneiderman and Healey celebrated the ruling. “I am pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss Exxon’s frivolous, nonsensical lawsuit that wrongfully attempted to thwart a serious state law enforcement investigation into the company,” Schneiderman said.

“At every turn in our investigation, Exxon has tried to distract and deflect from the facts at hand. But we will not be deterred: our securities fraud investigation into Exxon continues.”

Healey said, “Exxon has run a scorched earth campaign to avoid answering our basic questions about the company’s awareness of climate change. Today, a federal judge has thoroughly rejected the company’s obstructionist and meritless arguments to block our investigation.”

“This is a turning point in our investigation and a victory for the people.”

Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri told Reuters the company is evaluating its legal options. “We believe the risk of climate change is real and we want to be part of the solution,” he added. “We’ve invested about $8 billion on energy efficiency and low-emission technologies such as carbon capture and next generation biofuels.”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine Chow March 31, 2018 at 4:39 pm

20,000 Scientists Have Now Signed ‘Warning to Humanity’

From Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch.com, March 9, 2018

The article, ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’ has been co-signed by 20,000 scientists around the world.

A chilling research paper warning about the fate of humanity has received 4,500 additional signatures and endorsements from scientists since it was first released last year.

The paper—”World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”—was published in November 2017 in the journal Bioscience and quickly received the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with roughly 15,000 signatories from 184 countries.

To date, the article has collected 20,000 expert endorsements and/or co-signatories, and more are encouraged to add their names.

The “Warning” became one of the most widely discussed research papers in the world. It currently ranks 6th out of 9 million papers on the Altmetric scale, which tracks attention to research. It has also inspired pleas from political leaders from Israel to Canada.

“Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public,” said lead author ecology professor William Ripple at Oregon State University in a statement.

The 2017 paper is actually an update to the original version published 25 years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It was signed by 1,700 scientists then, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences.

The first notice started with this statement: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It described trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishing, deforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.

Unfortunately, the authors of the updated paper said that humanity failed to progress on most of the measures and ominously warned, “time is running out.”

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, the paper stated.

The authors concluded that urgent measures are necessary to avoid disaster. They called upon everyday citizens to urge their leaders to “take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life.”

This week, three letters in comment and a response companion piece by the “Warning” authors was published in BioScience.

The response piece, “Role of Scientists’ Warning in shifting policy from growth to conservation economy,” includes two key areas for action in policy and science, from introducing a Nobel Prize in Economics for incorporating the limits of the biosphere to introducing a global price on carbon.

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Friends of the Earth April 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Shell Faces Historic Legal Action in Netherlands for Failure to Act on Climate Change

From The Friends of the Earth, April 04, 2018

Friends of the Earth Netherlands announced Wednesday that it will take Shell to court if it does not act on demands to stop its destruction of the climate.

“Shell is among the ten biggest climate polluters worldwide,” said Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. “It has known for over 30 years that it is causing dangerous climate change, but continues to extract oil and gas and invests billions in the search and development of new fossil fuels.”

The case is supported by Friends of the Earth International, which campaigns for climate justice for people across the world impacted by dirty energy and climate change. Friends of the Earth International has 75 member groups globally, many of them working to stop Shell extracting fossil fuels in their country.

“This case matters for people everywhere,” said Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International. “Shell is doing enormous damage worldwide—climate change and dirty energy have devastating impacts around the world, but especially in the global South. With this lawsuit we have a chance to hold Shell to account.”

Friends of the Earth Netherlands’ case is part of a growing global movement to hold companies to account for their contribution to dangerous climate change. In January, the city of New York went to court to claim compensation from the five largest oil companies, including Shell, for the consequences of climate change.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland as well as several other counties in California are doing the same. A Peruvian farmer is suing the German energy company RWE for its contribution to glaciers melting above his village caused by climate change. The Friends of the Earth Netherlands case is unique because it is the first climate lawsuit demanding that a fossil fuel company acts on climate change, rather than seeking compensation.

This ground-breaking case, if successful, would significantly limit Shell’s investments in oil and gas globally by requiring them to comply with climate-targets.

Nansen added, “If we win this case, it has major consequences for other fossil companies, and opens the door for further legal action against other climate polluters. Friends of the Earth International wants to see binding rules for corporations like Shell who so often regard themselves as being above the law, including when it comes to climate goals.”

Source: https://www.ecowatch.com/shell-climate-change-lawsuit-2556191673.html/

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Karen Savage September 12, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Judge orders more Exxon disclosures in New York climate probe

From an Article by Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, August 30, 2018

A New York Supreme Court judge said Exxon must hand over financial spreadsheets and answer questions from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who is investigating whether the oil giant deceived its shareholders about the risks of climate change.

The ruling was handed down by Judge Barry Ostrager in New York Supreme Court Wednesday after a hearing on a motion by the state to compel Exxon to comply with investigatory subpoenas issued by the New York attorney general’s office. Ostrager gave the company 30 days to turn over some of the documents; others he said the company must answer investigators’ questions about, because Exxon argued it would be burdensome to turn over all of them.

Ostrager made it clear he wants the investigation to conclude quickly instead of dragging on indefinitely.

The first subpoena was issued in 2015 as part of an investigation by Eric Schneiderman, then New York’s attorney general, into possible shareholder deception by Exxon. Last year, Schneiderman issued a second subpoena.

Underwood took up what Schneiderman started after she she replaced him in May him and, like Schneiderman, Underwood contends that Exxon is dragging its feet and has not fully complied with the subpoenas. Her office filed a filed a motion in June to compel compliance with the subpoenas

Attorneys for Exxon, which has accused the attorney general’s office of conducting a politically motivated investigation, argue they have complied with the investigation.

Documents already turned over have revealed several “smoking guns,” according to Manisha M. Sheth, New York’s executive deputy attorney general.

Investigators have previously asserted that Exxon used two sets of figures—or proxy costs— to determine how future climate risks will impact the company’s bottom line, one for internal use and another that was shared publicly.

At the hearing, Sheth presented the court with internal Exxon emails written by corporate greenhouse gas manager Bob Bailes that she said confirms that assertion. Also included is a 2011 email indicating Exxon considered reconciling the two proxy costs, but decided not to because “Rex has seemed happy with the difference previously,” referring to former chief executive Rex Tillerson.

The attorney general’s office announced last year it had discovered that Tillerson had used a second, incognito email in the name of “Wayne Tracker” while at the helm of the company. When the investigators asked for those emails to be turned over, the company said many had been permanently deleted.

Sheth also presented emails from 2016 that show that Bailes “effectively admitted Exxon misled investors” and the company “used ‘alternate methodology’ to avoid ‘massive [greenhouse gas] costs.” The emails also disclosed the use of “legislative” costs to avoid large write-downs in the value of Exxon assets.

Ostrager granted the demand by Underwood’s office that Exxon turn over cash flow spreadsheets used by the company to make investment decisions and documents the company provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its evaluation of asset depreciation, reserves calculations and climate change.

Exxon has maintained that it did not conceal climate-related risks. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Ostrager’s ruling.

In July, more than a hundred environmental, faith and community groups signed a letter supporting Underwood in her continuing investigation.

“While Judge Keenan may have dismissed New York City’s lawsuit, he didn’t dismiss the reckless actions of these companies,” said Mae Boeve, executive director of 350.org, referring to the recent dismissal of New York’s climate suit against five major oil companies.

“From Sandy-like storms and flooded subways to record heat waves, the costs of Exxon’s destruction is being paid for by New Yorkers,” Boeve said.

“Attorney General Underwood’s commitment to continue investigating all that Exxon knew and hid about climate change shows fossil fuel companies can’t shirk the necessary accountability.”

SEE ALSO:

>>> The Ins and Outs of the Exxon Climate Investigation: A Timeline

>>> Massachusetts Investigation of Exxon for Climate Fraud Can Proceed, Court Rules

>>> NY Attorney General Accuses Exxon of Withholding Key Climate Documents

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Karen Savage February 26, 2019 at 11:24 pm

Exxon plea to SEC: Block shareholders climate proposal

By Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, February 25, 2019

Exxon is trying to prevent shareholders from voting on a proposal calling on the oil giant to set and disclose targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would align its business with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Exxon sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Jan. 31 with its plans to omit the shareholder proposal from its 2019 proxy materials and prevent voting on the proposal. It asked the commission to confirm that it will not recommend enforcement action if it does so.

Exxon contends the proposal, which was sponsored by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the Church of England and dozens of co-filers, is “vague and misleading” and seeks to “micro-manage” the company. It also said those goals have already been disclosed in its 2018 Energy and Carbon Summary.

“Exxon is trying to deny shareholders’ right to vote on a significant climate risk concern,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. DiNapoli said Exxon’s opposition to the proposal is “shortsighted and disappointing.”

Exxon was forced to release its 2018 report after shareholders succeeded for the first time in passing a resolution to prompt more climate risk disclosure. In that report, the company claimed climate change poses “little risk” to its business. Critics said the report omitted disclosure of risks to the global economy from catastrophic climate change, as well of disclosure of the risks of climate change to its own facilities.

In the 2019 Energy and Carbon Report, which was released earlier this month, Exxon said it supports the Paris Climate Agreement, but does not mention the increasing number of climate liability suits Exxon is facing or the lawsuit filed by the New York State attorney general’s office for deceiving investors over climate risks to their investments.

Sponsors of the current proposal are asking Exxon to further that report and “include disclosure of short-, medium- and long-term greenhouse gas targets aligned with the greenhouse gas reduction goals established by the Paris Climate Agreement.”

“Trying to strike out a shareholder proposal from institutional investors with a fiduciary responsibility to manage climate risk is an outdated reflex,” an official for the Church of England fund said in a statement.

The SEC was critical of the company in 2016 for its rejection of an earlier resolution demanding disclosure on climate risk, but last year—after the Energy and Carbon Report was issued—the SEC allowed Exxon to exclude a proposal asking for additional disclosures.

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance is expected to issue an opinion in about 30 days. If it decides in Exxon’s favor and the vote is not required, the proposal’s sponsors can then pursue legal action. If the opinion is that Exxon must allow a vote on the proposal, the company can then appeal to the full panel of SEC commissioners.

With an increased global awareness and concern about the catastrophic effects of climate change, resolutions requiring companies to disclose climate risks are becoming more common.

“We’re in a very different context today, in terms of investors—including some of the biggest investors in the world—asking companies to be much more thoughtfully integrating climate change issues into their business planning and to assess what the impact of climate change is going to be on them and their shareholders,” said Timothy Smith, director of environment, social and governance shareholder engagement for Boston Trust and Investment Company. Smith said both BP and Shell are supportive of similar shareholder proposals.

“That’s why it’s distressing to watch ExxonMobil say ‘we don’t even want to see this resolution put on the ballot.’”

https://www.climateliabilitynews.org/2019/02/25/exxon-sec-climate-change-resolution/

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Tom DiChristopher March 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Exxon and Chevron just announced big plans to surge oil and gas output from top US field

By Tom DiChristopher, CNBC News, March 5, 2019

Exxon Mobil and Chevron on Tuesday said they both plan to surge oil and natural gas output from America’s top shale field in the coming years, a strategy that the energy giants say will yield significant returns.

As early as 2024, Exxon believes it can increase output from the Permian Basin to 1 million barrels per day of oil equivalent, a measure that blends crude oil and gas production. That represents an 80 -percent increase, the company said in a news release a day ahead of its meeting with investors.

Meanwhile, Chevron aims to more than double its oil and gas output to 900,000 boepd by the end of 2023. Chevron sees Permian production hitting 600,000 boepd by the end of next year, the company said at its meeting with analysts on Tuesday.

The Permian is the epicenter of the U.S. shale boom, which has made the nation the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. Drillers in the region underlying western Texas and southeastern New Mexico use advanced techniques like hydraulic fracturing to coax oil and gas from shale rock formations.

Once the domain of independent frackers, the shale drilling process is being industrialized by large international oil companies. The oil majors are stitching together large swaths of land and drilling multiple horizontal wells from a single location, making the expensive method more efficient.

“The big thing that I think has changed is the shale game has become a scale game, and so people that can do things at large scale and bring the capabilities to bear that a company like Chevron has are the ones that really can take this to the next level,” Chevron Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Tuesday.

Chevron’s output from the Permian hit 377,000 boepd last quarter, an 84 percent increase from a year ago. The company says it plans $19 to $22 billion in capital spending per year from 2021 to 2023.

“Our message to our investors was it’s a good time to be Chevron. Our portfolio is stronger than it’s ever been, and you don’t have to look any further than the Permian to see that,” Wirth said. “We’re delivering strong production with low risk and disciplined spending, which leaves plenty of money to be returned to shareholders.”

Exxon’s Permian production surged 93 percent in the final quarter of 2018 from the year-ago period.

“We’re increasingly confident about our Permian growth strategy due to our unique development plans,” Neil Chapman, senior vice president at Exxon, said in a statement. “We will leverage our large, contiguous acreage position, our improved understanding of the resource and the full range of ExxonMobil’s capabilities in executing major projects.”

Exxon says its Permian assets can produce healthy returns even during times of low oil prices. If crude futures fall to $35 a barrel, Exxon says returns from its Permian assets will still average 10 percent.

Permian Basin oil production is expected to top 4 million barrels per day this month. That is about a third of total U.S. output, which is sitting at a record just above 12 million bpd, according to preliminary government figures.

Output from the region has been constrained by a lack of pipelines needed to carry crude from oil fields to refineries and export terminals. Analysts expect the industry to bring new infrastructure online and clear the bottlenecks by the end of the year.

Exxon is investing heavily in the Permian and U.S. Gulf Coast, with construction planned or under way at 30 sites to account for growth in oil and gas processing and water handling and to assure there’s enough infrastructure to move fossil fuel around the region.

Earlier this year, Chevron announced it would buy Pasadena Refining System from Brazil’s Petrobras for $350 million. The deal will give Chevron control of a Pasadena, Texas, refinery, its first processing facility in the Houston area and a means of processing its growing Permian output.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/05/exxon-chevron-announce-plans-to-surge-output-from-permian-basin.html

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Eoin Higgins March 22, 2019 at 10:35 pm

Following Monsanto, Exxon Could Be Next US Corporation to Face EU Lobby Ban

From an Article by Eoin Higgins, Common Dreams, March22, 2019

ExxonMobil could soon join Monsanto as one of the only two companies not allowed to lobby European Union lawmakers.

The oil giant, one of the world’s largest energy companies, was a no-show at a climate change denial hearing in Brussels Thursday, prompting the action.

In a statement, ExxonMobil said that it was unable to attend because of “ongoing climate change-related litigation in the U.S.”

That wasn’t good enough for Molly Scott Cato, a Green Party member of the European Parliament. In a statement, Green said a company which had spent millions on climate denial and then ducked responsibility for its actions didn’t deserve the right to promote itself in the EU.

“We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament,” said Cato. “We must remove their badges immediately.”

ExxonMobil spent over €35 million on lobbying efforts in the EU since 2010. If the vote goes against the energy giant, it would lose that right in the European Parliament.

Agribusiness and chemical conglomerate Monsanto lost EU lobbying rights in 2017 after the company refused to attend a hearing on the safety of the chemical glyphosate in the weedkiller RoundUp and Monsanto’s role in attempting to manipulate the regulatory process around the product.

“Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament,” Green party president Philippe Lamberts said at the time.

In a letter to the committee announcing its refusal to attend Thursday’s hearing, ExxonMobil said that it was certain a review of the facts would exonerate the company from accusations that it secretly knew the dangers of carbon emissions for decades while continuing to fund and promote climate denialism.

“We are confident that a neutral review of the facts will refute the allegations made by the company’s critics that are distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research,” the company wrote.

Internal documents provided to the hearing by Harvard University research fellow Geoffrey Supran told a different story—that ExxonMobil knew of the damage its product was causing the planet since at least 1977 but pushed forward with promoting climate change denialism anyway.

“It is the overwhelming consensus of experts studying the history of fossil fuel funding that companies, including ExxonMobil, have orchestrated, funded and perpetuated climate misinformation to mislead the public and politicians, and stifle action,” Supran said. “Unfortunately, they largely succeeded.”

Advocates for climate responsibility celebrated the move against ExxonMobil.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/22/following-monsanto-exxon-could-be-next-us-corporation-face-eu-lobby-ban/

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May Boeve June 5, 2019 at 9:53 pm

From: “May Boeve – 350.org”
Date: June 5, 2019
Subject: Make them pay → Exxon
Reply-To: 350@350.org

Dear Friend,

Exxon has been lying about its role in the climate crisis for decades. And that is why we dropped a big banner at their shareholder meeting last week. It read: #ExxonKnew, it’s time to #MakeThemPay. Now, the awareness that people like you helped us build is paying off in states across the country.

What’s more, New York Attorney General Letitia James is taking them to court following a multi-year investigation into the worst potential corporate fraud in history. Meanwhile, more and more states and cities across the country are opening cases against Exxon, taking them to task for their lies and destruction.

Will you donate now to help us keep up the pressure to make Exxon executives and fossil fuel billionaires pay for their lies and destruction?

We, and people around the world, have been paying — and continue to pay — for Exxon’s greed with our health, our homes, and our lives. Exxon executives don’t care, and we don’t expect them to start.

That’s why we’ve been pushing our elected representatives to take action against them. In addition to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s upcoming court case against Exxon, Rhode Island1, Boulder County, Colorado, 25 towns in California, and more have also filed lawsuits against Exxon and the five biggest fossil fuel companies.2

We need your help to keep this momentum going to hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable — will you donate today to keep the climate justice movement strong?

Make no mistake, with fossil fuel executives spending billions to stop climate action and Donald Trump using the world’s biggest bully pulpit to discredit climate science; we can’t take anything for granted.

Please donate today to empower our campaigns.

Thank you for everything you do,

May Boeve for 350.org

1 – Rhode Island sues major oil companies over climate change, Nate Raymond, Reuters, July 2, 2018.

2 – Fossil Fuels on Trial: Where the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand Today, David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News, January 6, 2019.

NOTE: 350.org is building a global climate movement, please join in!

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