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New Haven Register: Nappier seeks ouster of oil exec

EXTRACT: In some environmental circles, Exxon Mobil is viewed as a laggard compared with competitors such as BP PLC, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell?s U.S. arm, all of which have joined a corporate-environmental coalition urging Congress to require limits on greenhouse gases tied to global warming.

THE ARTICLE

Associated Press
05/24/2007

HOUSTON — A group of institutional investors led by Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier is calling for the ouster of a member of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s board of directors, saying the oil giant is putting itself at financial risk by continuing to ignore global climate change.

The dissatisfied investors said Wednesday they?ll again ask Exxon Mobil for specific greenhouse gas reduction goals and larger investments in renewable energy at next week?s shareholder meeting in Dallas — what?s become a common occurrence at the annual get-together, to be held Wednesday.
 
Their announcement came the same day Exxon Mobil released its 2006 Corporate Citizenship Report, which noted, among other things, the company?s greenhouse gas emissions rose 5.4 percent last year from 2005 because of increased oil production in Africa and liquefied natural gas output in the Middle East. Still, the company — the world?s largest publicly traded oil entity — said it was on target to improve energy efficiency by 10 percent at its global refining operations by 2012.

Specifically, the investor groups plan to call for the removal of director Michael Boskin, who?s up for re-election. They?re upset because they say Boskin, who chairs Exxon Mobil?s public issues committee, has refused to meet personally with them to discuss strategy for dealing with climate change. Boskin, a Stanford University economics professor who also runs a consulting firm, has served on the board of the Irving-based company since 1996.

“While its competitors are moving aggressively on climate change, this company … continues to hide its head in the sand rather than acknowledge the business implications of climate change,” Nappier said in a conference call with reporters.

Others opposing Boskin?s reappointment include the California State Teacher?s Retirement System; shareholder advocate Robert A.G. Monks; and the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, an alliance of Roman Catholic institutional investors primarily in New York.

As principal fiduciary for Connecticut?s retirement plans and trust funds, Nappier said her oversight includes a $302 million investment in Exxon Mobil. Nappier acknowledged a six-hour meeting with Exxon management in July to discuss her and others? concerns, “but this meeting is not a substitute for a meeting with Michael Boskin and other board members.”

Exxon Mobil spokesman Gantt Walton said Boskin arranged the session last summer, and that another was in the works. Walton said Boskin also responded in writing four times to Nappier and others. Boskin did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

“Dr. Boskin has invested substantial time and resources over the past year addressing the concerns,” Walton said.

Under former leader Lee Raymond, Exxon Mobil was a firm skeptic about the link between fossil fuel combustion and global warming. But that position has softened since Rex Tillerson took over as chairman last year.

In Exxon Mobil?s new citizenship report, Tillerson reiterates previous comments that the climate remains an “extraordinary complex area of scientific study” and that rising greenhouse gas emissions could pose significant risks to society and ecosystems.

He notes the company?s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at its facilities, and its partnership with auto makers and engine manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency. Tillerson has said Exxon Mobil?s support for alternative energy sources comes primarily through contributions to academic and other research groups.

In some environmental circles, Exxon Mobil is viewed as a laggard compared with competitors such as BP PLC, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell?s U.S. arm, all of which have joined a corporate-environmental coalition urging Congress to require limits on greenhouse gases tied to global warming.

©New Haven Register 2007

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