New York City Comptroller John Liu and the New York City Pension Funds announced Tuesday they filed a shareowner proposal calling on Exxon Mobil Corp. to release quantitative data on safety related to its hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. The pension funds, as of Monday, held 11.4 million shares of Exxon valued at just over $1 billion.
The funds are the New York City Employees' Retirement System, Teachers' Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and the Board of Education Retirement System.
"Fracking carries significant concerns about poisoned drinking water, toxic chemical leaks, and explosions," said Liu. "Exxon Mobil says, 'Don't worry, we've got it covered' and asks us to take it at its word. Until the company shows us hard data on what it has done to protect the public and environment, shareowners cannot be confident that the necessary safeguards exist."
Liu and the pension funds filed the first-time shareowner proposal jointly with As You Sow, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group. The group wants data from Exxon on air emissions; the number and kinds of community complaints or grievances and whether they remain open or resolved; and systems used to reduce potentially harmful chemicals in fracturing fluids.
Kimberly Brasington, an ExxonMobil media advisor in Irving, Texas, e-mailed the following response: "Exxon Mobil is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner. ... Unconventional gas resources can be developed in a manner that protects human health and the environment. The hydraulic fracturing technique itself poses little risk to groundwater because it occurs thousands of feet below groundwater sources. Nonetheless, sound practices concerning well design and construction, water management, air emissions, and surface impacts exist and must be followed to minimize adverse environmental impacts and meet community expectations."
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Tuesday said Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. has agreed to publicly disclose its policy and procedures for eliminating or minimizing toxic substances in its fracking fluids.