April 4 The Securities and Exchange Commission
backed a shareholder resolution that will let Exxon Mobil Corp
investors vote on requesting a report on the financial
risks of the regulatory and community responses to fracking.
"As the nation's largest natural gas producer, ExxonMobil
needs to set the standard for disclosure on its gas exploration
practices and development of safe technology," said Jon Jensen,
head of the Park Foundation, which supported the filing of the
resolution through shareholder advocacy group As You Sow.
Resolutions on the risks of hydraulic fracturing, or
fracking, received support from 28 percent of shareholders at
Exxon's annual meeting last year, and from two-fifths of the
shareholders of rival Chevron Corp.
An Exxon spokesman noted 72 percent of shareholders rejected
the resolution, and that it was the third year such a vote took
place. "It's our view that unconventional gas can be developed
in a manner that protects health and the environment," he added.
Regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission last
week rejected Exxon's request to omit this year's resolution,
clearing the path for a vote at its shareholder meeting on May
30, As You Sow said in a statement. Chevron's annual meeting
will be held the same day.
Concerns around fracking center on the chemicals used and
wastewater disposal, and As You Sow said these two issues could
have significant financial implications for the companies, and
are contributing to the regulatory scrutiny.
The group counts 70 towns or cities and at least three U.S.
states and four countries, from New York to Bulgaria to South
Africa, that have enacted bans or moratoriums on fracking.
"Investors need companies to disclose how they are managing
these wide-ranging risks," Michael Passoff, senior strategist at
As You Sow, said in a statement.
Last year, the average vote for fracking-related proposals
was 40 percent, or double the average support for a shareholder
vote on environmental or social risks, according to As You Sow.
A handful of other companies had such resolutions withdrawn
once they made certain commitments, and Exxon and Ultra
Petroleum Corp are the only two to receive resolutions
focused on fracking for three consecutive years, the group said.