A shareowner proposal has been filed calling on Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) to release quantitative data on its efforts to safeguard the public and the environment from its hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations.
“Fracking carries significant concerns about poisoned drinking water, toxic chemical leaks, and explosions,” said Comptroller John C. Liu, who with the New York City Pension Fund announced Tuesday the filing of the proposal. “Until [Exxon-Mobil] shows us hard data on what it has done to protect the public and environment, shareowners cannot be confident that the necessary safeguards exist.”
The risks that fracking poses to water and air quality have led to bans and moratoria in the U.S. and around the globe and could directly affect Exxon’s long-term value. The shareowners’ call for quantitative measurements is consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s recommendations on shale gas production. The U.S. Department of Energy recommended in 2011 that companies “adopt a more visible commitment to using quantitative measures as a means of achieving best practice and demonstrating to the public that there is continuous improvement in reducing the environmental impact of shale gas production.”
Exxon has repeatedly resisted calls that it provide investors with detailed information on its safety measures. The data that Comptroller Liu and fellow shareowners are requesting includes such information as air emissions from fracking that Exxon has reduced per region per year; the number and kinds of community complaints or grievances and whether they remain open or resolved; and the goals and systems used to reduce potentially harmful chemicals in fracturing fluids.
Comptroller Liu and the NYC Pension Funds filed the first-time shareowner proposal jointly with As You Sow, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that has been engaging Exxon on its fracking practices and disclosures on behalf of the Park Foundation since 2010.
“As every top business knows, what gets measured, gets managed,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President and Chief Counsel. “Exxon has repeatedly failed to measure the harms fracking operations cause to air, water, and nearby communities, or any progress towards reducing those harms. Exxon shareholders need this information to make sound investment decisions.”