If you had ventured down a dirt road running through remote marshland along the Gulf Coast in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, at just the right time back in late February, you might have come across a pit of gray muck. Down in that pit, you’d find a contractor welding a steel cap about the size of a dinner plate onto a stub of pipe jutting up from the mud below. That pipe was the last visible sign of an old oil and gas wastewater well that once dropped over a half-mile deep into the earth, now plugged up and sealed by contractors hired by the state. For decades, oil and gas companies disposed of millions of barrels of waste down that hole, ringed with cement and steel, dubbing the wastewater well Freshwater City SWD 01, according to state records. Experts told DeSmog the well was defective and that using it put underground supplies of drinking water in the area at risk.
The Massachusetts high court on Tuesday ruled that the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, must face a trial over accusations that it lied about the climate crisis and covered up the fossil fuel industry’s role in worsening environmental devastation. Exxon claimed the case brought by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, was politically motivated and amounted to an attempt to prevent the company from exercising its free speech rights. But the state’s supreme judicial court unanimously dismissed the claim in the latest blow to the oil industry’s attempts to head off a wave of lawsuits across the country over its part in causing global heating. Healey’s lawsuit accuses Exxon of breaking the state’s consumer protection laws with a decades-long cover-up of what it knew about the impact on the climate of burning fossil fuels.
“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its latest report on Monday. This scientific summary, focused on how the world can cut greenhouse gas emissions, warns of the extraordinary harm to all of humanity caused by fossil fuels and the need for a rapid energy transition away from oil, gas, and coal, calling for meaningful changes over the next three years. “Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.” That same day, oil giant ExxonMobil made an announcement of its own: a $10 billion final investment decision for an oil and gas development project in the South American nation of Guyana that the company said would allow it to add a quarter of a million barrels of oil a day to its production in 2025.
Our newest report, “The Regulatory Studies Center: A Stain on the George Washington University Name,” delves into the Koch and ExxonMobil funded RSC, which has repeatedly acted as a front for fossil fuel interests with a history of using GW’s name to provide credibility to climate deniers, fossil fuel cronies, and other discredited backers of pseudoscience. The report, written by UnKoch My Campus Student Organizer and GW student Jake Lowe, highlights a number of instances of climate disinformation and details how the RSC has played a role in promoting a deregulation agenda that benefits its donors.
Keith McCoy, a senior director of federal relations at Exxon, told a reporter for Unearthed posing as a head-hunter that that the company had conducted a fingerprints-off lobbying push via several trade groups in an effort to stave off tighter regulations on these controversial chemicals.
During Exxon's annual shareholder meeting, an activist hedge fund called Engine No. 1—which "owns only about 0.02%" of the oil company's stock, according to climate reporter Emily Atkin—ran four of its own director candidates in opposition to the fossil fuel corporation's hand-picked board members. At least two of Engine No. 1's candidates won, with the races for additional boardroom seats too close to call as of this writing.
What’s the single word that fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil’s flagship environmental reports to investors and the public tie most closely to climate change and global warming? According to newly published research from Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard research associate Geoffrey Supran, it’s a simple four-letter word, one that carries overtones not only of danger, but also — crucially — of uncertainty: risk. Oreskes and Supran argue in the peer-reviewed study published in the journal One Earth, that by repeating that word over and over as it discusses climate change ExxonMobil continues to connect climate change to uncertainty, even in its most carefully worded and most scrutinized discussions of the topic.
ExxonMobil’s stock plunged to a nine-year low on Tuesday after posting poor fourth quarter results, leading the fossil fuel giant to plunge $184 billion since its’ market valuation since its 2014 peak, as per CNN business. Some analysts argue that Exxon’s bad quarter is emblematic of a broader decline in the fossil fuel industry.
"The best reason to divest fossil fuel stock is that you'd like to help preserve a livable planet. Another reason is so that you won't lose your money." Three days after CNBC host Jim Cramer pronounced fossil fuel investments as being "in the death knell phase," Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded its stock assessment for ExxonMobil, advising investors to sell their shares of the oil and gas giant.
“Despite this ruling, the crucial work to hold the likes of Exxon accountable for climate crimes goes on. This is just the tip of the accountability iceberg. We thank Attorney General Tish James for her diligence in fighting to protect New Yorkers from rogue and reckless polluters. For our communities, this lawsuit was always about so much more than the Martin Act and investor fraud. “Just like Big Tobacco, Exxon knew and lied about the dangers of climate change. Now, seven years after Superstorm Sandy, those of us who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are still paying the costs through our lives and livelihoods.
Lawyers for New York State and ExxonMobil wrapped up a landmark climate fraud trial on Thursday, shaping a tangle of testimony and evidence into competing narratives on whether the oil company misled investors about the risks it faces from climate regulation. Jonathan Zweig, who gave the closing arguments for the New York attorney general's office, described the case as a classic securities fraud trial that happened to be about climate change, which he said "may well be the defining risk for oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil in the coming decades."
Former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson took the witness stand Wednesday in the company's climate fraud trial and gave the clearest defense yet for his former employer. Tillerson denied that the oil giant misled investors about the risks it faced from future climate change regulations and described a detailed system he had implemented for managing those risks. But he also repeatedly said he was unable to recall key details and events that are central to the case, omissions that a lawyer for New York's attorney general's office returned to again and again.