The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lila Holzman,, (415) 483-9533

SEC Sides With Exxon to Deny Shareholder Vote on Stranded Asset Risk


Tuesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allowedExxonMobil to reject a shareholder request for clear and targeted reporting on if and how it intends to reduce the risk of stranded assets related to its petrochemical investments like plastics, especially in consideration of the public, market, and governmental responses to plastic pollution, community health, and climate change.

Shareholder representative As You Sow filed the resolution with ExxonMobil, in response to Exxon's plans to heavily expand its petrochemical operations -- most notably, the production of feedstock for plastics. Current reporting by Exxon fails to fully disclose the growing impacts and risks associated with its proposed petrochemical infrastructure expansions. The company claims its fossil-based plastic production is a climate-friendly "opportunity" while neglecting to discuss the landscape of economic, climate, pollution, and health risks presented at every stage of the plastic lifecycle. As one of the largest U.S. plastic producers, shareholders seek to understand how the company's planned investments will remain economically viable amidst the mounting global response to the harms associated with fossil-based plastics.

Already in a state of overcapacity, investment into additional plastic production faces increased risk of becoming stranded. Over the last year, several petrochemical projects have faced significant opposition, delays, and cancellations.

At a time when the company is facing intensified scrutiny from investors to demonstrate its viability in a changing world, Exxon has blocked investors from seeking more comprehensive disclosure about the growing range of risks of petrochemical expansion and if and how Exxon is addressing them.

Lila Holzman, senior energy program manager of As You Sow, said in response:

"Shareholders are increasingly concerned about companies that continue to invest in new or additional plastic production but fail to address or discuss the material risks and alarming externalities that come with it. In an already oversupplied market, these investments face significant risks of becoming stranded and require enhanced scrutiny.

"Investors are waking up to the reality that increasing fossil-based plastic production is neither in line with the Paris Agreement nor compatible with a world seeking to eliminate plastic waste from our land and seas.

"Exxon's continued disregard of shareholder requests to address these global issues is surprising and concerning. Blocking shareholders' right to raise such concerns in the public forum created for these conversations serves neither shareholders nor Exxon, especially in the face of clear warning signs of overinvestment in plastic production."

For more information on As You Sow's work on climate change, click here.

As You Sow is the nation's non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. Founded in 1992, we harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit. Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.