NYC Comptroller Stringer And As You Sow Reach Agreement With Exxonmobil On Fracking Disclosure
April 3, 2014
ExxonMobil has agreed to provide increased transparency about how it manages the environmental and community risks associated with its hydraulic fracturing and production practices for shale gas in response to a shareholder proposal filed by the New York City Pension Funds, non-profit As You Sow, and 12 co-filers.
“ExxonMobil is responding to shareowners on issues that are critical to its long-term sustainability,” Stringer said. “We have seen the significant risks that come from hydraulic fracturing activities. Corporate transparency in this arena is truly necessary for assessing risk and ensuring that all stakeholders have the information they need to make informed decisions.”
ExxonMobil’s agreement follows five years of shareholder proposals requesting greater disclosure and transparency around the risks of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The resolution noted that long-term shareholder value is at stake as leaks, spills, industrial accidents, poor air quality, and community impacts from hydraulic fracturing operations raise regulatory, reputational, and legal risk, and put the Company’s social license to operate at risk. Last year’s shareowner proposal requesting that ExxonMobil provide greater disclosure about its hydraulic fracturing and shale gas operations received a 30.2% vote.
“Exxon’s shift toward disclosure and transparency is important, especially in light of how long investors have been asking for this information from the company,” said Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow. “Against an industry backdrop of moratoria, well accidents, environmental disruption, and community harms, company assurances of good practices are no longer sufficient to attract and maintain investment.”
The withdrawn shareholder proposal filed with ExxonMobil sought greater transparency and disclosure about how the Company manages and measures impacts associated with shale gas production including the creation of millions of gallons of toxic waste water which has to be stored, moved, and disposed of; the potential for air pollution associated with trucks, pumps, and other machinery; depletion of drinking water stores; release of methane, a potent global warming pollutant; and other community impacts including strained social services, increased crime, traffic gridlock, and noise among others.
Pursuant to the agreement, the company will address how it manages the risks of its shale gas production operations using criteria identified in a 2013 report called Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations. In the report, ExxonMobil was ranked as one of the lowest scoring among 24 companies on transparency and risk in hydraulic fracturing operations, with adequate disclosures in just 2 out of 32 indicators.
ExxonMobil has also agreed to report how it assesses and manages risks for 26 management practices in five issue areas – chemicals, water and waste management, air emissions, community impacts, and management and accountability and will continue discussions regarding providing quantitative disclosures on some or all of these issues next year.
This hydraulic fracturing agreement follows ExxonMobil’s recent announcement that it would be the first oil and gas producer to publish a report describing how it assesses the risk of stranded assets from climate change. The Exxon resolution is part of a coalition effort targeting six major oil and gas companies over failure to disclose measurable reductions in environmental and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations.
Co-filers of the resolution include: Congregation of Divine Providence, Inc.; Congregation des Soeurs des Saints Noms de Jesus et de Marie; Green Century Capital Management; Northwest Women Religious Investment Trust; Providence Trust; Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, US Ontario Province; The Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas; The Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore; The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia; The Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province; The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Zevin Asset Management.
As of April 1st, the New York City Pension Funds held 10,525,151 shares of ExxonMobil valued at $1.02 billion.
# # #
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. For more information visit www.asyousow.org.
Comptroller Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are composed of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.
In addition to Comptroller Stringer, the New York City Pension Funds’ trustees are: New York City Employees’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, Carolyn Wolpert (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Borough Presidents: Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Melinda Katz (Queens), Eric Adams (Brooklyn), James Oddo (Staten Island), and Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Bronx); Lillian Roberts, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; John Samuelsen, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.
Teachers’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Appointee, Carolyn Wolpert; Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; and Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson (Chair) and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.
New York City Police Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, Carolyn Wolpert; New York City Finance Commissioner Beth Goldman; New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edward D. Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Louis Turco, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, Roy T. Richter, Captains Endowment Association.
New York City Fire Department Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, Carolyn Wolpert; New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Beth Goldman; Stephen Cassidy, President, James Slevin, Vice President, Robert Straub, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; John Farina, Captains’ Rep.; James Lemonda, Chiefs’ Rep., and James J. McGowan, Lieutenants’ Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Sean O’Connor, Marine Engineers Association.
Board of Education Retirement System: Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña; Mayoral: Milady Baez, Ezre T. Cleveland, Norm Fruchter, Vanessa Leung, Lori Podvesker, Robert Reffkin, Miguelina Zorilla-Aristy; Laura Zingmond (Manhattan BP), Fred Baptiste (Brooklyn BP), Debra Dillingham (Queens BP), Robert Powell (Bronx BP) and Kamillah Payne-Hanks (Staten Island BP); and employee members Joseph D’Amico of the IUOE Local 891 and Milagros Rodriguez of District Council 37, Local 372.
Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations is a joint project of As You Sow, Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, and the Investor Environmental Health Network.