DALLAS, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A proposal asking ExxonMobil to disclose what it is doing to reduce risks from toxic chemicals in natural gas drilling, and consider alternatives, won support Thursday from holders of 26.3 percent of the company's shares — the latest indication of investors' concerns about hydraulic fracturing's threat to drinking water, public health and shareholder value.
The level of support was five times the typical level for a first-time environmental resolution. The proposal was put forth by As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy organization based in San Francisco, representing the Park Foundation of Ithaca, N.Y., and the holders of 16,746 ExxonMobil shares valued at more than $1.1 million.
"Today's vote sent a strong message to ExxonMobil that shareholders are concerned about how it is dealing with hydraulic fracturing, especially in light of the expansion that will make it the nation's largest natural gas company," said Michael Passoff, senior program director of the corporate responsibility program at As You Sow.
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a controversial process of injecting water, chemicals and particles underground to increase gas production. In response to reports of contaminated water supplies and intense public concern, tougher regulations have been introduced in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado and legislation has been introduced in Congress to repeal the exemption of fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
"Fracking poses regulatory risks that could greatly increase operation costs, legal liabilities from health impacts, and reputational risk from growing public and political opposition," added Passoff. "If ExxonMobil truly aren't concerned about the financial ramifications of fracking, they're not a good bet for investors."
In the absence of meaningful disclosure by the company, shareholders took the unusual step of highlighting fracking risks with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (http://bit.ly/9TFOjP). For background on the significance of Thursday's shareholder vote, see http://jm.ly/EGys66.
"The Gulf oil spill is a powerful example of how oil and gas drilling can devastate the environment," said Jon Jensen, executive director of the Park Foundation. "This is a good first step in responsibly seeking energy in a way that protects the environment, human health, and the welfare of the company."
As You Sow (www.asyousow.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting corporate social responsibility.
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