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article imageGreen Thumbs Up: Calif. investigates Exxon Mobil over SEC rules

By Karen Graham     Jan 23, 2016 in Environment
Sacramento - California Attorney General Kamala Harris is investigating Exxon Mobil over claims the company lied to its shareholders about climate change and the risks that global warming could pose to its business.
The investigation is less about climate change and the contributions the oil giant may have made to the global crisis and more about whether the company may have violated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules.
Attorney General Harris launched her investigation after a series of articles came out alleging the company had known for decades that its activities were contributing to global warming, but at the same time was funding groups opposed to federal regulations pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the LA Times.
Columbia University’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Fellowship published a series of articles in the LA Times in October 2015 that made the claims based on documents they had obtained from reporters. And of course, the Liberal news site InsideClimate News published their own series of articles on Exxon's alleged misdeeds the month before.
In October 2015, Digital Journal also highlighted the eight-month long investigation by InsideClimate News that detailed the lack of transparency the company showed toward its own shareholders regarding what their own scientists knew about global warming.
According to Digital Journal, Exxon executives knew climate change posed an existing threat to the company, yet in all the company's annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they failed to mention this information to investors as a "material risk" as required by the SEC.
As the Huffington Post explains, on Tuesday, Jan. 19, a group of 61 major industrial investors lobbied the SEC “to make oil and gas companies publish analysis of climate change risks.” Since Exxon Mobil failed to share information on the risks to the business over climate change, they would be in violation of rules put into effect by the SEC in April 2015. However, the SEC has not tried to enforce the rules, yet.
The Inquisitr is reporting that Thomas P. DiNapoli, a major investor in the company and the New York State Comptroller, issued a statement representing the shareholders’ interests. “As shareholders, we want to know that Exxon is doing what is needed to prepare for a future with lower carbon emissions. The future success of the company, and its investors, requires Exxon to assess how it will perform as the world changes.”
Harris is the second attorney general to start an investigation into Exxon Mobil's shareholder disclosures. In November 2015, New York AG Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into Exxon’s shareholder disclosures on global warming, prompted by the same newspaper articles as Harris.
Green Thumbs Up is a weekly feature that looks into ways we can live more sustainable and environmentally-friendly lives. If you missed last week's Green Thumbs Up, please go HERE.
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