SEC Forces Exxon Climate Disclosure Vote


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that Exxon must allow a shareholder vote, on whether Exxon should include information about specific risks posed by climate change in company reports. Exxon claims that the proposal is too vague to properly address.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled Exxon Mobil must include a climate change resolution on its annual shareholder proxy, a defeat for the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, which had argued it already provides adequate carbon disclosures.

In a Tuesday letter to Exxon XOM -0.43% seen by Reuters, the SEC said the oil producer cannot keep a proposal spearheaded by New York state’s comptroller from a full shareholder vote at the company’s annual meeting in May.

If approved, the proposal would force Exxon to outline specific risks that climate change or legislation designed to curb it could pose to its ability to operate profitably.

Exxon had argued that the proposal was vague and that it already publishes carbon-related information for shareholders, including a 2014 report on its website entitled, “Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks.”

The SEC found those reports do not go far enough.

“It does not appear that Exxon Mobil’s public disclosures compare favorably with the guidelines of the proposal,” Justin Kisner, an attorney-adviser with the SEC, wrote to the oil producer.

Read more:

The proposal;

Shareholders request that by 2017 ExxonMobil publish an annual assessment of long term portfolio impacts of public climate change policies, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information. The assessment can be incorporated into existing reporting and should analyze the impacts on ExxonMobil’s oil and gas reserves and resources under a scenario in which reduction in demand results from carbon restrictions and related rules or commitments adopted by governments consistent with the globally agreed upon 2 degree target. The reporting should assess the resilience of the company’s full portfolio of reserves and resources through 2040 and beyond and address the financial risks associated with such a scenario.

Read more:

I’ve got to say Exxon has a point. They are being asked to assess the impact of the legally non binding Paris agreement, and climate change, on their business, based on models which have so far failed to demonstrate predictive skill, and they are also being asked to speculate about what politicians might do in response to these hypothetical future changes.

How can speculation about future regulatory frameworks possibly be in any way meaningful? Nobody knows what the US government is likely to do next week, let alone 10 to 20 years from now. The next US President might rule Exxon’s business model is illegal – US Presidents these days seem able to rule by decree. Overnight Exxon’s value could drop to zero. On the other hand, the next President might open public lands to oil exploration, which might cause Exxon’s value to soar.

Either way, one thing is clear – America’s over mighty, interventionist government is doing untold damage to the stability of the American business environment.

Britain has paid a high price for such government meddling in energy markets. Britain tried to tilt their energy market in favour of renewables, but current generation renewables are not a viable replacement for fossil fuels. Britain still needs fossil fuel infrastructure investment. But as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd recently admitted, that We now have an electricity system where no form of power generation, not even gas-fired power stations, can be built without government intervention.

Despite a desperate need for new capacity, few private investors dare to put their money into British energy projects, because their investments might be rendered worthless at any time, at the stroke of a politician’s pen. Britain is on the brink of economically damaging power shortages – but hardly anyone is investing. The few Investors who are willing to risk investing in British energy markets demand iron clad guarantees of massive government support – support which in most cases the British government is unwilling or unable to provide, support which would have been completely unnecessary a decade ago.

If American politicians continue to pointlessly meddle with US energy markets, American markets will likely end up as dysfunctional as British energy markets.

Update: slight rewording of the first paragraph

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March 24, 2016 12:28 am

How can Exxon possibly know the impact of their products on climate change? Nobody on Earth knows what the climate is doing, what it can do, and what it will do. We don’t have anywhere near enough knowledge of the climate forcings to answer those questions. That is why the best and worst models are on a permanent divergence path with observed. There is no reference datum for climate change because the climate does and has always changed and we don’t know how to predict it.
But at least as far as the judicial system is concerned the science is settled. That is very unsettling. It means anything can be mandated with this as a precedent.
There has never been a more important time to vote carefully. The future of everything, for the first time in the history of mankind, is at risk of cargo cult science driven political whim.

Reply to  dp
March 24, 2016 3:56 am

What Exxon really needs to declare is the risk of interfering busy-body politicians pushing the latest barrow stopping them from doing what they are supposed to do.

george e. smith
Reply to  Hivemind
March 24, 2016 10:38 am

Well I would follow that disclosure on climate change risks 100 years from now, with a similar disclosure on the risks to world trade from the elimination of fossil fuel burning for the world’s shipping industry, including the risks involved in sail powered ships for delivery of petrochemical feed stocks for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Time is money, and the lack of money is a big risk for investors.

March 24, 2016 12:39 am

Hi from Oz. So the SAC says ‘The assessment …should analyze the impacts on ExxonMobil’s oil and gas reserves and resources under a scenario in which reduction in demand results from carbon restrictions and related rules or commitments adopted by governments consistent with the globally agreed upon 2 degree target. The reporting should assess the resilience of the company’s full portfolio of reserves and resources through 2040 and beyond and address the financial risks associated with such a scenario.’
Well, Exxonmobil could do what the IPCC does, and make up a range of hypothetical ‘scenarios’ that will scare the sh!t out of the SEC, then see what the SEC says, BEFORE presenting them to their shareholders. What fun they can have if only ExxonMonil’s execs have the cojones!

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
March 24, 2016 1:17 am

Exxon should start with this from the 3rd assessment report.
“In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

Reply to  AB
March 24, 2016 1:52 am

Agreed, that would be a good start.
However the brief is to explain Exxon’s response/potential outcomes to regulatory effects, not real world and justifiable market actions.
Otherwise they could hit back against these pressure tactics by expounding on all the holes in the ‘CAGW theory’, state point blank that the existing and proposed regulatory measures are therefore completely unjustified and metaphorically punch them in the face.
That would be good to see if they can work that into their response.

Robert H
Reply to  AB
March 24, 2016 2:22 am

Maybe make up some kind of graphs that look like hockey sticks with some incomprehensible units and apologize for destroying life on the planet

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
March 24, 2016 4:44 am

Exxon cannot win here, if they include information about specific risks posed by climate change it locks them into regulatory requirements by their own accord (See! Even a big oil company thinks climate is at risk due to CO2). If their statement does not follow the ‘consensus science’ they could be investigated/fined for misleading investors. Someone has drawn a line in the sand and wants Exxon to cross it so they can beat of them one way or the other. Something tells me a lot of lawyers will be rubbing their hands together.

Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 5:17 am

Correct. If they publish the ‘scientific’ risks, then they have admitted that they sell a harmful product. This elevates any tort from mere nastiness to reckless nastiness. But if they publish non-census science, then they are attempting to defraud the public. Knowably. Which was the basis of the tobacco company suits back in the day.
But there’s a key assumptive here: That the other oil companies aren’t complying with the SEC already. For if they are, then /Exxon needs to or they’ll get pounded. But if they are not, Exxon’s only out is to sue the SEC on the basis that this amounts to a Bill of Attainder. And that there is no validity until and unless the SEC forces all oil companies, simultaneously, to do the same thing.
Force them to go after every oil company at once, and they go after nearly every Americans ability to put food on the table by putting gas in the car for the commute.

Doug in Calgary
Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 11:22 am

Maybe Exxon could say that they would be happy to reply to any report on CAGW that has been validated with the scientific method… wouldn’t that narrow the field to zero?

Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 5:51 pm

IISD/International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, March 23, 2015
‘It’s Time the SEC Enforced Its Climate Disclosure’
Author: Robert Repetto, Senior Fellow, IISD & Sr. Fellow Energy and Climate Program at the UN Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 5:59 pm

Date: March 23, 2016 for the IISD article.

March 24, 2016 12:51 am

Reblogged this on kingbum78's Blog and commented:
This debate in is so much flux I do not blame EXXON in taking the stance it did at all…It’s as if the SEC expects EXXON to have a crystal ball and predict future regulatory actions…When you have a president hell bent on making the energy sector suffer for no good reason other than wealth redistribution all bets are off.

March 24, 2016 12:51 am

I’d like to see similar proposals put to ‘renewable energy’ companies seeking disclosure on how they will react to objective economic analysis on their business models actually being conducted and widely disseminated to policy-makers.
And consequently the risks if the gratuitous Government subsidies are withdrawn.
Much more immediate and could happen as soon as the next election. What happens then, hmmmm….?
What’s good for the goose…
As Buffet stated, Investment in renewables only make sense for the subsidies. “That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

March 24, 2016 1:11 am

2017 will see a new US president.

Evan Jones
Reply to  Alex
March 24, 2016 3:13 am

If Obama refused to step down the Supreme Court might well be evenly divided.

Reply to  Evan Jones
March 24, 2016 3:19 am

The “president for life ” of Romania thought he would rule until he died.
He was right, but not in the way he thought….

Reply to  Evan Jones
March 24, 2016 3:22 am

The civil war would start immediately if that happened.

Reply to  Evan Jones
March 24, 2016 6:51 am

I think you give too little credit to the Supreme Court Justices.On clear constitutional issues they do support the law. They recently, 8-0, rejected a misinterpretation of the Heller decision (the right to bear arms is an individual right) by the Massachusetts supreme court. MA ruled the second amendment does not include the right to own a stun gun because they did not exist when the constitution was written. This was unanimously rejected because that logic would exclude radio and television from the right of free speech.

Reply to  Evan Jones
March 24, 2016 8:27 am

OMG… I think I facepalmed myself so hard I just gave myself a cuncussion…
You’d be funny if I didn’t know you actually believe that it’s a possibility…

george e. smith
Reply to  Alex
March 24, 2016 10:43 am

And it is looking more than likely that the new one will be worse than everybody’s worst nightmare; but then we will all be a part of history; right ?
The Rise and Fall of The United States of America.

Reply to  george e. smith
March 25, 2016 11:09 pm

The candidates for the presidential election in 2016 may not include any of the current horde of primary candidates. Both parties are working in the shadows against the will of the people. It is a failing of open and free elections that we are limited to vote for those who choose to run rather that those we would wish to run. The RNC and DNC have no such limitations.

James Bull
March 24, 2016 1:15 am

Where I work they installed Diesel gen sets several years ago for use in case of grid failure, they are now wanting them to run 24/7 to help back up the grid by reducing the sites draw on it.
James Bull

Reply to  James Bull
March 24, 2016 8:26 am

Interesting, but in what area/country are you located?

Reply to  BFL
March 24, 2016 3:17 pm
March 24, 2016 1:18 am

a “sliver of $130 million” divested!
23 Mar: Reuters: Rockefeller Family Fund hits Exxon, divests from fossil fuels
By Terry Wade and Anna Driver
Though only a sliver of the endowment’s modest $130 million in assets is invested in fossil fuels, the move is notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil…
In a letter posted on its website, the fund said Exxon’s conduct on climate issues appears to be “morally reprehensible.”…
Asked about the Rockefeller announcement, Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said in a statement: “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company.”
“The Rockefeller Family Fund provided financial support to InsideClimate News and Columbia University Journalism School which produced inaccurate and deliberately misleading stories about ExxonMobil’s history of climate research,” Jeffers added…
Rockefeller Family Fund Director Lee Wasserman responded in an email that Exxon was not singled out.
“We supported public interest journalism to better understand how the fossil fuel industry was dealing with the reality of climate science internally and publicly,” Wasserman said. “No specific company was targeted in our push to drive better public understanding and better climate policy.”…
As early as 2008, members of the Rockefeller family called on Exxon to increase spending on alternative fuels…
Rockefeller Family Fund: RFF’s Decision to Divest

Reply to  pat
March 24, 2016 7:15 am

Time for the Rockefeller Foundation to disgorge all of the money received from the dastardly oil business.

March 24, 2016 1:24 am

Brilliant suggestion , tell them that by 2020 all life on the planet will die because of C02 emissions and it’s too late to stop it .

Reply to  Robert
March 24, 2016 4:52 am

Or they could take the contrarian position and point out that plant life will perish below 200 ppm. Bring in a bus load of commercial growers and stand on science proving it is morally represensible to not drive CO2 up to 600 ppm for sustainable farming. Show how CO2 greens the planet and use this tangible data to conclude these regulations are anti-earth and it is only by releasing CO2 that we can protect all life on the planet.

Reply to  FTOP_T
March 24, 2016 6:59 am

Throw in the fact that only certain kinds of grasses grow at or near 200 PPM, and then add that grass has absolutely no human nutrient value. It really doesn’t taste good, either.

David Jay
Reply to  FTOP_T
March 24, 2016 7:09 am

There is a conversion stage available to turn grasses into appropriate human nutrients.

Reply to  FTOP_T
March 24, 2016 12:41 pm

@ David Jay, 7:09 am, What type of energy is required to do the conversion process and what kind of additives do you need? Thanks for a reply. ( and will you eat it?)

March 24, 2016 1:27 am

Despite a desperate need for new capacity, few private investors dare to put their money into British energy projects, because their investments might be rendered worthless at any time, at the stroke of a politician’s pen.

Investors hate uncertainty.
This reminds me of rent control. The theory is that rent control will keep investors from creating (or even properly maintaining) new rental units and will reduce the supply and quality of rental units. It asserts that the net effect on tenants and landlords is harmful.
There have been studies that attempt to determine whether, or not, the theory is correct.

These studies were criticised on the basis that poorer standards in housing conditions were also seen in states which had no rent controls, and so the evidence was inconclusive in demonstrating a causal link.[11]
Evidence based studies, particularly conducted by American economists in the 1990s found that new methods of regulation, allowing for nominal rent increases in defined situations (for instance, linked to inflation or behind wage rises) were “so different, they should be evaluated largely independently of the experience with first-generation rent controls” studied in the 1970s.[12] The view at the time was that “a well-designed rent control can be beneficial”.[13] wiki

“Can be” is not the same as “is”. For sure, government meddling can be harmful for everyone. Even under the best conditions, rent control is not an unmitigated good.
Thank you Britain for being a guinea pig. If government meddling causes energy shortages, and seniors freezing to death in their unheated apartments, other jurisdictions can learn from the example.

Reply to  commieBob
March 24, 2016 7:17 am

Nah. We already had the example of single payer health care and it made no difference.

Smart Rock
Reply to  JimB
March 24, 2016 1:46 pm

Jim, you probably never noticed the private option in UK health care because so few people use it. Probably because they’d have to pay (in addition to paying for the “free” version through their taxes). That was the deal in 1945. I’ve met people who used it to jump the queue.
In Canada we do have a real single-payer health system. Surprisingly to many ideologues, it works. Well I’m alive because of it so maybe I’m biased. If I had died, I might be in favour of private sector health care.

charles nelson
March 24, 2016 1:28 am

In its death throes of the Obama Administration is throwing out some lethal barbs.
But it will all be over soon.

george e. smith
Reply to  charles nelson
March 24, 2016 10:48 am

And then we will all have the Era of Hillary Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire; but in this case it will be the fires of hell.

March 24, 2016 2:29 am

The SEC: “Destroying shareholder value for more than 80 years.”

Boulder Skeptic
Reply to  jamesbbkk
March 24, 2016 9:25 pm

And it’s far more than Exxon shareholder value that will be damaged, although the article lists just this one energy company. This is a far-reaching ruling against free-enterprise (for no good reason in my opinion). Lots of wasted productivity across the entire energy sector in the US will result. Or, am I missing something that limits this ruling to Exxon?
“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) holds primary responsibility for enforcing the federal securities laws, proposing securities rules, and regulating the securities industry, the nation’s stock and options exchanges, and other activities and organizations, including the electronic securities markets in the United States.”
The NASDAQ Stock Market is an American stock exchange designed to enable investors to buy and sell stocks on an automatic, transparent and speedy computer network. Here is page 1 of 7 for the NASDAQ listed companies involved in carbon-based energy production (there are a total of around 300 energy companies just on this one exchange).
Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (AXAS) Oil & Gas Production
Adams Resources & Energy, Inc. (AE) Oil Refining/Marketing
Advantage Oil & Gas Ltd (AAV) Oil & Gas Production
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. (ANW) Oil Refining/Marketing
Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. (AHGP) Coal Mining
Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (ARLP) Coal Mining
Alon USA Energy, Inc. (ALJ) Integrated oil Companies
Alon USA Partners, LP (ALDW) Integrated oil Companies
American Electric Technologies, Inc. (AETI) Industrial Machinery/Components
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (AEUA) Oil & Gas Production
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (APC ) Oil & Gas Production
Antero Resources Corporation (AR) Oil & Gas Production
Apache Corporation (APA) Oil & Gas Production
Approach Resources Inc. (AREX) Oil & Gas Production
Arc Logistic Partners LP (ARCX) Oil Refining/Marketing
Atlantic Power Corporation (AT) Electric Utilities: Central
Atlas Resource Partners, L.P. (ARP) Oil & Gas Production
Atwood Oceanics, Inc. (ATW) Oil & Gas Production
Barnwell Industries, Inc. (BRN) Oil & Gas Production
Basic Energy Services, Inc. (BAS) Oilfield Services/Equipment
Baytex Energy Corp (BTE) Oil & Gas Production
Bellatrix Exploration Ltd (BXE) Oil & Gas Production
BHP Billiton plc (BBL) Coal Mining
Bill Barrett Corporation (BBG) Oil & Gas Production
Black Stone Minerals, L.P. (BSM) Oil & Gas Production
Blueknight Energy Partners L.P., L.L.C. (BKEP) Natural Gas Distribution
Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. (BCEI) Oil & Gas Production
BP p.l.c. (BP) Integrated oil Companies
BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (BPT) Integrated oil Companies
Breitburn Energy Partners LP (BBEP) Oil & Gas Production
Brunswick Corporation (BC) Industrial Machinery/Components
Buckeye Partners L.P. (BPL) Natural Gas Distribution
BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) Industrial Machinery/Components
C&J Energy Services, Ltd. (CJES) Oilfield Services/Equipment
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (COG) Oil & Gas Production
California Resources Corporation (CRC) Oil & Gas Production
Callon Petroleum Company (CPE) Oil & Gas Production
Calumet Specialty Products Partners, L.P. (CLMT) Integrated oil Companies
Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ) Oil & Gas Production
Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc. (CRZO) Oil & Gas Production
Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE) Oil & Gas Production
CGG (CGG) Oil & Gas Production

March 24, 2016 2:32 am

The SEC: “If you’re a shareholder that’s gotten a raw deal, don’t worry, we’ll fine the company and force it divert resources to our whims, so you suffer a double hit.”

March 24, 2016 3:38 am

”Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
Paul Ehrlich,
Professor of Population Studies,
Author: “Population Bomb”, “Ecoscience”
“Cheap, abundant reliable energy is the lifeblood of society – it IS that simple.”
“When misinformed politicians fool with energy systems, innocent people suffer and die.”
– Allan MacRae, P. Eng.
Cold Weather Kills 20 Times as Many People as Hot Weather
June 13, 2015
By Joseph D’Aleo and Allan MacRae
Presentation of Evidence Suggesting Temperature Drives Atmospheric CO2 more than CO2 Drives Temperature
September 4, 2015
By Allan MacRae

Reply to  Allan MacRae
March 24, 2016 4:12 am

Giving environmentalists political influence has been the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.

Reply to  phaedo
March 24, 2016 4:54 am


Reply to  phaedo
March 24, 2016 5:25 am

Yeah, or like putting a hypochondriac in charge of public health.
Or an anorexic in charge of food production.

March 24, 2016 3:43 am

This is one of those “crossover moments” where an irrational movement or idea gains a foothold within a rational framework of empirical and evidence-based procedure. Regulation based ‘law’ is a low hanging fruit because it is written in quotable lawyer-speak and is often confused for law.
Anyone who claims a slippery slope is a disingenuous logical fallacy has never lost their footing on one. Down we go!

March 24, 2016 4:04 am

Companies have to be very careful about putting speculative statements in their reports. They can get in serious trouble with the very same SEC if they aren’t careful with their speculations.
And yet now the SEC wants them to speculate. Well not only wants them to be is apparently requiring it.
But no, nothing politically motivated here. It is all for the good of the investors.

March 24, 2016 4:36 am

I’m sure that Exxon have enough clever lawyers to make sure they comply with this requirement in a way that renders the entire exercise pointless!
At least I sincerely hope so for the sake of the future of industry in the US, and indeed the rest of the civilised world.

Reply to  Newminster
March 24, 2016 7:21 am

Well, as a shareholder, I know what I can do about it. Vote “no” when it is proposed. And maybe XOM should find a way to avoid all these politically driven proposals altogether. Maybe make the rule that a proposer own at least 10,000 shares for at least five years before the proposal is submitted.

Stephen Richards
March 24, 2016 4:51 am

If, and it’s a big if, the republicans win all at the next election there will be massive civil service dismissals I hope.

Reply to  Stephen Richards
March 24, 2016 5:05 am

In Canada, just after 6 months in office the Liberals are projecting a $29.4-billion deficit in the 2016-17 fiscal year – TRIPLE what they PROMISED during the election, although a $6-billion contingency fund is built into that figure. There are no plans to balance the books AS PROMISED by 2019, when the deficit is projected at $17.7-billion. National debt sits at $648.7-billion in this budget, rising to $718.2-billion by 2019-20. [BOLD mine]
In other words, don’t hold your breath.

Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 7:22 am

Yeah, you did notice he said “I hope”. We have already had “hope” ; and “change”, also.

Boulder Skeptic
Reply to  Duncan
March 24, 2016 9:34 pm

Wow! You guys are in great shape! Our national debt is nearing $19,200,000,000,000.
My share as a US citizen is around $59,300. But since we have so many free-loaders, my share as one of the taxpayers in this country is just shy of $160,100.

Mike Restin
Reply to  Stephen Richards
March 24, 2016 6:16 am

Carly Fiorina has the right idea about reducing government jobs.
As the baby boomers retire, don’t replace them.
Reduce their budgets accordingly.

Bruce Cobb
March 24, 2016 4:56 am

What shareholders would be dumb enough to vote for it? I see the “proposal” as pure harassment by agents of a government steeped in, and wedded to an ideology, one of whose functions is to hand more control over to government.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 24, 2016 5:26 am

What shareholders would be dumb enough to vote for it?
California’s STRS (state teachers retirement system) and similar politically controlled investors are likely candidates. And their holdings in Exxon-Mobile are huge.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 24, 2016 5:30 am

Coal Disinvestment Bill Passes California Legislature
This is how the wind is blowing.

Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 24, 2016 11:22 am

Surely you don’t think the fund managers of STRS et al are that stupid…to purposely damage their ownretiement funds. Ideology usually parks at the bank door.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Juan Slayton
March 24, 2016 11:49 am

cababianblog: Ideology usually parks at the bank door.
Not always. Take a look at STRS’s Green Initiative Task Force Annual Report:
Special attention to the section on proxy voting. It’s almost a certainty that STRS will support the Exxon-Mobile proposal.

March 24, 2016 5:07 am

I own Exxon stock via mutual funds, so I will be drafting a letter to my fund managers directing them how I wish them to vote … Nay.
If the vote goes poorly for Exxon, I see opportunity for some of our more knowledgeable posters and our esteemed host to finally get on the payroll of “big oil”. Just screen scrape the comment section of this post, then add a few whereas and therefores and presto, the first draft is done.

March 24, 2016 5:20 am

The over-arching problem here is that, by means of the over-extension of regulatory power, non-engineers (i.e. people with no background in or grasp of the fundamental principles of science or engineering) are now presiding over all decisions relating to global energy infrastructure.
And if they have their way, then soon they will capture control of global energy supply.
Sadly, whilst they may have convinced themselves that their motives are noble (although I don’t believe that they have) the most basic problem with this transfer of control is that whatever they may intend to do, they do not possess an understanding of the systems, economic considerations, scientific principles or physical limits.
And without that understanding, the influence of the politicians, legislators, regulators and even media commentators can only lead us to catastrophe.
Somebody should start a campaign with the slogan, “leave engineering to the engineers”.
Sadly the various humanities and law grads are enjoying playing with their new toys and are unlikely to be willing to hand them back to the people who created them.

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
March 24, 2016 6:00 am

“leave engineering to the engineers”
But CAD and other software have made engineering so easy!

george e. smith
Reply to  PiperPaul
March 24, 2016 12:05 pm

No they haven’t. They may have made development of good hardware faster and cheaper and better.
But a poor engineer can also turn out poor quality junk much faster too. I use fancy software to design fancy optics.
My software has no idea what a lens is, let alone a good lens or other optical structure. I have to tell the program (it is far dumber than a box of rocks) what a good lens is. It then finds the best one of those that can be designed from the parts I gave it. It doesn’t care (or even know) if such a lens can be made. It assumes I know what I’m doing (I do). Lots of other would be lens designers with the same software, don’t know what they are doing. That’s good for me.

Reply to  PiperPaul
March 27, 2016 8:48 am

True, It’s now so much easier to design and produce dumb crap that doesn’t serve mankind.
If policy makers ask for it, then engineers can certainly knock up a drawing and get it built.
(See Ivanpah posts of late – for the perfect example of engineering genius serving inglorious ambitions.)

Hot under the collar
March 24, 2016 5:22 am

Maybe they should cite evidence of how much more CO2 would be generated and the loss of revenue and jobs if they were forced to switch to renewable energy with the required backup generators and increased ‘carbon’ tax.
Then include the highly likely nightmare scenario of total collapse of power supply, riots, accidents, emergency incidents, deaths and general loss of law and order that would ensue.

Reply to  Hot under the collar
March 24, 2016 6:22 am

Exxon makes fuel for cars not running factories.
Loss of Exxon would end transportation and therefore, commerce not heating.

Reply to  mikerestin
March 24, 2016 7:27 am

Really? What energy does a factory run on? Electric motors? See “Natural Gas-Powered Generators”, Diesel powered trucks, Gasoline powered back-up generators, etc. Not to mention XOM’s interests in generating plants eg in China.

son of mulder
March 24, 2016 5:27 am

Do they have to include the risk of an asteroid collision with earth in 2025? Are they taking research into asteroids seriously enough? The whole business could be wiped out, however that would solve to CO2 conundrum and show all previous predictions of climate change were completely wrong.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  son of mulder
March 24, 2016 6:42 am

Indeed, and what about the risk of an invasion by space aliens? Or perhaps a super-virus causing a catastrophic, worldwide epidemic? Or…..

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 24, 2016 7:04 am

Invasion of space aliens? Not gonna happen….ever! There’s a huge, flashing neon sign sitting out on the edge of the Milky Way which says…”Move along; nothing to see here–no intelligent life.”

Tom Halla
March 24, 2016 5:49 am

I do have the impression that the green blob is getting more and more desperate. The more intellectually indefensible and unpopular their holy cause gets, the more they try to repress dissent.
The Paul Ehrlich faction does seem to desire economic collapse (it is seen as inevitable anyway), so their vandalism on the economy is goal oriented. The issue is trying to make sure that those goals are widely understood.

John W. Garrett
March 24, 2016 5:58 am

“A commonwealth of morons.”
-H. L. Mencken describing the United States

Gary Pearse
Reply to  John W. Garrett
March 24, 2016 6:21 am

Mencken was seldom wrong but was on this as the US was the best there was then! Churchill was the wiser one. He said democracy is an awful system but its the best we have!! If he was forecasting the new millennium, well that’s another story.

Don K
March 24, 2016 6:02 am

Hey look folks. The shareholders, in theory at least, own the company. They have a perfect right to request — or not request –that Exxon address the affect of just about anything business related. Electric cars, climate change, wellhead methane emission control, impact of biofuels, etc. … If the shareholders request it. Of course if green investors divest themselves of stock in the evil oil companies, the shareholders will likely not request any such thing. Indeed, that’s Fortune’s take as well as mine. “It is unclear whether the proposal, though, has much chance of success. Exxon shareholders have never approved a climate change-related proposal, and last year they rejected by 79 percent a request that a climate expert be appointed to the company’s board.”
And if approved somehow, what they’ll get is probably something like Warren Buffett’s annual report that says something like From a business perspective we believe that climate change would have little or no impact on our operations or corporate value because …

Reply to  Don K
March 24, 2016 7:29 am

I would agree with you if the proposers were truly investing in the future of XOM. Instead, they probably are in that bunch that would like to put the company out of business. Hence, my suggestion above.

March 24, 2016 6:05 am

[Bold mine]

I’ve got to say Exxon has a point. They are being asked to assess the impact of the legally non binding Paris agreement, and climate change, on their business, based on models which have so far failed to demonstrate predictive skill, and they are also being asked to speculate about what politicians might do in response to these hypothetical future changes.
How can speculation about future regulatory frameworks possibly be in any way meaningful? Nobody knows what the US government is likely to do next week, let alone 10 to 20 years from now. The next US President might rule Exxon’s business model is illegal – US Presidents these days seem able to rule by decree. Overnight Exxon’s value could drop to zero. On the other hand, the next President might open public lands to oil exploration, which might cause Exxon’s value to soar.

That pretty much sums up the task at hand for Exxon,Eric.
Since they can only speculate, I’d recommend putting in 2 X the ‘might, could, possibly, may’ as contained in the typical warmist study and follow each weasel word with,”Or ‘might not, could not, possibly not, may not,”liberally sprinkled with,”It all depends and nobody knows for sure.”

March 24, 2016 6:15 am

The SEC has not said they must publish this, only that they must allow a shareholder vote. If the shareholders don’t want it they wont have to do it.
If they do have to do it, this will surely provide amunition to those opposed to regulation. They will be able to point to the report and say “Look- this is how much damage implementing these policies will cause”.

Reply to  seaice1
March 24, 2016 8:32 am

Yes! If there was ever a time for “Fossil Fuel Interests” to state their position on government regulation, this is it.
Use facts to detail the undeniable adverse economic economic impact on their company (and thus shareholders) of proposed regulation and then quote Gina McCarthy’s recent statement (and the same statement of a year ago) at congressional hearings that the regulations would have NO measurable impact at all on the temperature (or CO2) but they would have the benefit of “demonstrating leadership”. (Gina wins the Don Quixote Award two years running!)
As Don K also noted, I would also present unequivocal data on how the EU’s regulations consistent with the Paris Agreements has made energy prices skyrocket (as promised by Obama), moved industry out of their respective countries and will lead to massive interruptions in power supply.

Don K
Reply to  George Daddis
March 24, 2016 8:48 am

IIRC, President Obama’s plan says that energy prices will drop a bit. I did mention that the plan was poorly crafted, did I not?

Gary Pearse
March 24, 2016 6:23 am

Green idiots! They all divest themselves of oil stock and then they want shareholders to press the company for green concessions. Idiots.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 24, 2016 7:07 am

Idiots are people who divest their pension funds of oil stock, giving no forethought about the future sustainability of their pension fund.

March 24, 2016 6:24 am

Opening USA public lands to exploration won’t cause ExxonMobil share price to soar. Simply put, the USA market has too many competitors, and oil and gas resources in such federal lands aren’t massive enough to bias the market in a meaningful fashion.
On the other hand, a USA president is extremely unlikely to declare EM’s business model illegal.
Share prices are more likely to move with oil price. Oil price will move up gradually as the world’s resources are depleted. The question in my mind is whether EM will be able to switch to something else as oil production reaches a plateau and then begins to decline, simply because there wont be anywhere left to find new oil reserves.

Reply to  Fernando Leanme
March 24, 2016 7:33 am

Well, we have had to deal with this scenario for a long time and the current problem is over-supply, not shortage. I recall way back in 1952 I was advised to stay away from the petroleum industry as it had only a fifty year proven reserve of crude. The fifty years is up.

Don K
Reply to  Fernando Leanme
March 24, 2016 7:47 am

Fernando: Gave this some thought while strolling through the snow in the woods across the street with the dog. I think probably the following points would/will be made:
1. The world economic situation has a far greater impact of Exxon profits and plans than climate change will.
2. Climate change might cause some modest drop in revenues from reduced space heating fuel sales due to shorter/milder winters. That’ll be offset by other uses of hydrocarbons.
3. Any drop in revenues from improved vehicle fuel efficiency, electric vehicles, etc will be more than offset by larger numbers of vehicles on the road in developing countries.
4. There may be some transient problems with drilling lease availability on government controlled lands in some parts of the world. It probably won’t be that big a deal.
5. Grandiose plans to cut carbon emissions such as Germanies Energiewende or President Obama’s energy plan are so poorly crafted and unrealistic in terms of the capabilities of renewables capabilities that they will fail in the industrialized countries and mostly will not be implemented in developing countries. That will create considerable turmoil but will have little real long term affect on Exxon.
6. Carbon taxes, if implemented, will fall mostly on coal. Exxon already projects that coal will have a decreasing share of US energy after 2025. Exxon does not plan to be much affected by any decline in coal.
They might or might not take a few shots at the quality of climate “science” and the ineptness of politicians in crafting climate policy. What they won’t do is say that they’ve known for decades that climate change will kill us all if we don’t act quickly.

Reply to  Don K
March 24, 2016 8:12 am

Don, there’s nothing wrong with your comment. I live by the beach, haven’t seen snow this winter. I do run my heater a little bit at night.
My comment was simply intended to point out that EM’s share price isn’t that easy to move unless price perception is shifting.
As for JimB’s comment: I wasn’t discussing the oil industry in 1952. Today, I’m pointing out we no longer find enough oil to replace what we use, and that long term prospects for the OIL industry do look grim unless they find a way to switch to something else. And today’s prices are irrelevant. I’m discussing a long term trend. By 2040 we will definitely have confirmation as to whether the end of the age of oil is near.

March 24, 2016 6:38 am

This is an obvious proof of Brandolini’s Law

Reply to  notfubar
March 24, 2016 8:50 am

Thanks for that – I was trying to remember the term for it.
Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

March 24, 2016 6:56 am

Exxon is the new Keystone is the new Walmart. Targeting is what they do.

March 24, 2016 7:18 am

Exxon Mobile is not being asked to take a position on warming/climate change. They are being asked to assess the risks, environmental and regulatory, that could affect their future business. I would expect this to include assessments based on both skeptical and alarmist views. They need not express an opinion on which is most likely to occur, just explain the risks and potential impacts on their business.
Exxon Mobile should be able to avoid taking an “actionable” position.

March 24, 2016 7:25 am

This is easy.
“Shareholders request that by 2017 ExxonMobil publish an annual assessment of long term portfolio impacts of public climate change policies”
“and should analyze the impacts on ExxonMobil’s oil and gas reserves and resources under a scenario in which reduction in demand results from carbon restrictions and related rules or commitments adopted by governments consistent with the globally agreed upon 2 degree target.”

Reply to  Elmer
March 24, 2016 8:15 am

I can see scenarios in which EM reserves grow due to acquisitions. It has a much stronger financial position, therefore it should do better in a lousy market.

March 24, 2016 7:35 am

Have you ever seen the government admit the future cannot be known? Of course not. So why would the government be bothered by a claim that Exxon can’t know the future. Sure it can. The government knows and so should everyone else.
As for shareholders and environmental claims, if this is important to shareholders, it seems that many of them need stocks to drop as a tax write-off since if Exxon says fossil fuels harm the environment, stocks will fall. Is this some kind of trading scheme the SEC created so George Soros can buy low on oil stocks like he did on coal?

March 24, 2016 7:40 am

This might be a great opportunity to bog down the SEC with a lot of congressional hearings and a lot of reports entered into the congressional record – getting down on paper that 1. models don’t model or predict well; 2. the science is not settled, and therefore 3. requiring regulation is not appropriate at this time.
Then, this is in-black-and-white fodder for a lawsuit. Otherwise, yes, they pave the way for their own demise.

Crispin in Waterloo
March 24, 2016 7:42 am

This resolution, or rather the background necessary to produce a meaningful risk evaluation, would be very valuable fodder for any foreign power interested in destroying the company. It would basically paint a path to the disruption of the profitability of the company, giving enemies targeted points to work on to render the company unviable.
Given the public security aspects of the energy sector, I would be surprised if they are literally forced to show the targets that would bring down the oil sector in Western countries. I wonder if they thought this through.
Multiple universities in Canada (including Queens and Waterloo U) have been targeted by foreign agitator organisations calling for the total divestment from all ‘fossil fuel’ investments, and to pass along (require) that detachment to any company they do invest in.
This tactic, supported financially by, for example,, intends to make it impossible to invest in oil company shares. They are literally calling for an end to the oil industry. “Leave it in the ground.” It will be helpful for them in their cause if they could be provided an annual roadmap to the major political and policy vulnerabilities that will speed their conclusion – the destruction of the fuel supply.

TImo Soren
March 24, 2016 7:46 am

The vote will fail. They will not have to write this drivel.

March 24, 2016 7:47 am

Exxon should delay until Trump is elected and this B.S. will go away.

March 24, 2016 8:00 am

A major slice of “renewables” consists of biomass (though not shown in those Guardian and HuffPo illustrations of wind turbines and solar panels under sunny skies with fluffy white clouds). Would be a pity not to get a risk evaluation from Big Incinerator.
And we totally need to get Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian (all bigger than Exxon) to do a climate change resolution thingy. Those outfits are real sweeties and I’m sure they’re itching to help.

March 24, 2016 8:04 am

I think this disclosure is simple and easy. Exxon merely has to disclose that without its products, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people will not be able to control the climate of their homes, therefore condemning those people to misery from the cold, and quite possibly condemning millions to death. That’s just looking at fuel for electricity generating plants and heating fuel. If we look at the diesel and gasoline Exxon produces, without it, hundreds of millions, if not billions, would starve. Even given that fossil fuels do raise the earth’s temperature a fraction of a degree Celsius, that appears to be a good trade off.

March 24, 2016 8:10 am

Wow, if the SEC is buying into climastrology then the disease is worse than we thought.
I think Exxon should forego the vote and go ahead and disclose the dangers of climate policy on their business. I’ll help them out by completing this years impact statement:
2016 business impact from public climate policy: None, the expense was passed on to the consumer, have a nice day.

March 24, 2016 8:24 am

If I were Exxon I would want to know why we were being singled out. Why isn’t every company expected to do the same thing?

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  graphicconception
March 24, 2016 8:28 am

Well, that’s the plan, innit…

March 24, 2016 8:29 am

You’ll know it’s bad when this requirement is applied to all food labeling along with the latest GMO requirements. Try fitting all of that on a snack food label.

March 24, 2016 8:31 am

The SEC is “supposed” to be an independent agency outside of presidential whim. So who in the organization is a cheat?

March 24, 2016 8:46 am

This is how they apply the regulatory screws.

March 24, 2016 9:23 am

Exxon should ask the SEC to provide a validated model that will enable the company to generate the required wide ranging report. No valid model supplied, no report.

March 24, 2016 9:54 am

Exxon should pack up and move to China then watch the wailing.
It is to bad that outfits like Exxon would grow big ones and call BS and expose the corrupted climate science.

March 24, 2016 10:44 am

This is the ultimate result of a childish corporate witch-hunt, wherein big government goes after big oil…..all over a supposed “Climate change denial” that happened in the early 1980’s….during which GLOBAL COOLING was this big scare. The supposed denial happened during a time when the term “climate change” had not yet been invented, and there was no IPCC or UNFCCC in place discussing such topics….nor trying to force policy changes in response. Yet somehow Exxon is responsible for “denial” of a topic that wasn’t even in vogue at the time. Pretty slick equivocation, if you ask me.

March 24, 2016 10:52 am

What if Exxon held the Great Debate? Experts from all over the world beamed everywhere discussing the actual role of CO2 and how its’ PPM control/modify our climate. On the one side–all the kooks who think that the end of the world is nigh, scientists whose careers depend on more funding and of course government officials who need more carbon taxes to play with. On the other side–the research, history and scientific reality that is practiced by “skeptics”! Obviously shareholders would enjoy seeing how their company has wanted to bring the real truth forward ignoring any consensus that isn’t part of science.
It would be interesting to see how many experts would accept an invitation to have others query their work/beliefs.

March 24, 2016 11:25 am

This is the kind of harassment you might expect to see in some third world Marxist backwater. Not the united states.

G. Karst
March 24, 2016 12:18 pm

Message to ExxonMobil: Who is John Galt?

March 24, 2016 1:21 pm

As a former director of several public corporations I would refuse to sign off on public filings that contain imaginary numbers and imaginary impacts. The Greenies need to be careful. They think that they’re laying a trap for the energy companies, but they may be laying a trap for themselves as the Greens will be forced to prove their case in court when they inevitably sue Exxon.
Greenies, be careful what you wish for.

Reply to  Shoshin
March 24, 2016 1:55 pm

Maybe the punitive fines and prison time required by Sarbanes/Oxley for such irresponsible reports can be transferred to the idiot stock holders who voted for them?
That might give them pause.

F. Ross
March 24, 2016 2:29 pm

Time for Atlas to put down the globe, get up off his knee, and shrug his shoulders.

March 25, 2016 9:02 am

There are more credible, immediate, recurring specific threats that investors should know that are caused by catastrophic anthropogenic government whoring and warring.

March 25, 2016 11:36 am

Exxon should report honestly, and in terms similar to what Eric has suggested:
* The chances of the non-binding Paris agreement being implemented by US politicians runs from 0% to 99%
* The chances of US politicians either destroying or benefiting our company runs from 0% to 99%
* The chances of Climate Change itself negatively impacting our company significantly runs from 0% to 10%
The uncertainties and possible extent of any impacts either from Climate Change or from US politicians reactions to Climate Change, or to any other idea blowing in the DC wind, make it impossible for management to meaningfully assess risks in this area.

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