ExxonMobil

Climate Crisis, Moral Challenge, Moral Obligation 

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  • ExxonMobil draws a wide range of criticism, from it’s economic to environmental to geopolitical actions. Allegations levied against the company include: 
  • Contributing to global warming as the largest (non-government) producer of combustible fuels which generate greenhouse gases;
  • Providing several million dollars in funding to a range of organizations that opponents believe spread climate change disinformation and attempt to show the fallacies of the global warming argument.
  • Unethical business practices;
  • Intentional negligence and indifference to the environmental consequences of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill;
  • Underfunding its employee pension plan despite having enough cash on hand to fully fund the plan if it chose to;
  • Price gouging in the United States at a retail level;
  • Shortchanging retail fuel marketing and lubricants marketing partners (The marketers won a $1.4 billion judgment against ExxonMobil for anticompetitive practices in federal court in 2003);
  • Abuse of U.S. corporation law and perpetration of clever marketing schemes to avoid proper responsibility for its actions (For example, after the Valdez disaster, the company took the name "Exxon" out of its tanker shipping subsidiary, renaming it "SeaRiver Maritime," and giving it a separate (but wholly Exxon-controlled) corporate charter and board of directors. The former Exxon Valdez is now the "SeaRiver Mediterranean" and is legally owned by a small, allegedly under capitalized, stand-alone company, which would have minimal ability to pay out on claims in the event of a further accident;
  • Human rights violations in the Indonesian territory of Aceh. In June 2001, ExxonMobil became the target of a lawsuit in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The suit alleged that the company knowingly assisted human rights violations, including torture, murder and rape, by employing and providing material support to Indonesian military forces, who committed the alleged offenses in Aceh. Human rights complaints involving ExxonMobil's relationship with the Indonesian military first arose in 1992; the company denies these accusations and has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which is still pending as of 2005;
  • Callous treatment and prejudicial termination of former Mobil employees in favor of their Exxon counterparts during and after the Exxon & Mobil merger;
  • Violation of the Bribes & Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (ExxonMobil controls concessions covering 11 million acres (44,500 km²) off the coast of Angola that hold an estimated 7.5 billion barrels (1.2 km³) of crude; Questions have been raised about ExxonMobil's actions in securing these concessions—Forbes Magazine alleging that "ExxonMobil handed hundreds of millions of dollars to the corrupt regime of President José Eduardo dos Santos in the late 1990s". and
  • Trade in violation of economic sanctions against regimes hostile to the United States (In 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets Control reported that ExxonMobil engaged in illegal trade with Sudan and along with dozens of other companies had to settle with the United States government for US$50,000.)
  • In March 2003, James Giffen of the Mercator Corporation was indicted, accused of bribing 2 high level officals of Kazakhstan (President Nursultan Nazarbayev and a former Prime Minister) with $78 million in order to win ExxonMobil a 25% share in the Tengiz oilfield, the third largest in the world. On April 2, 2003, former-Mobil executive J. Bryan Williams was indicted on tax charges relating to this same transaction. The case will be the largest under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • ExxonMobil has given extensive financial and other support to industry coalitions, thinktanks, lobby groups and individuals critical of the scientific consensus on global warming. Notable examples include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute, Congress on Racial Equality, and TechCentralStation.com. Individual beneficiaries include Sallie Baliunas, Steven Milloy and Willie Soon. Exxon's actions in this respect have been criticised, most recently by the Royal Society of the United Kingdom.