Rockefeller family lashes out at Exxon Mobil

Philanthropic arm of one of the world's richest families backs away from fossil fuels industry.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Rockefeller family lashes out at Exxon Mobil
Rockefeller Family Fund pulls investments from fossil fuels industry, singling out Exxon Mobil for allegations it downplayed the impact the oil sector had on climate change. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) -- The philanthropic arm of the Rockefeller family said the "morally reprehensible conduct" of Exxon Mobil was in part behind a decision to divest from fossil fuels.

The Rockefeller Family Fund said it was in the process of dismantling its investments in the fossil fuels industry.


"While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense, financially or ethically, to continue holding investments in these companies," the fund said in a statement. "There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons."

New York City is leading a national trend in divestments from coal, with pension fund managers called on to move away from the resource. In September, Notre Dame University said it will stop relying on coal for electricity within five years and cut its carbon footprint by more than half before the end of the next decade.

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The Rockefeller family said fossil fuels should stay in the ground for the sake of the environment. Singling out Exxon Mobil, the fund said it was frustrated with allegations the company worked to mislead the public about the impact fossil fuels had on the global climate.


"We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of Exxon Mobil," the fund said in a statement.

The New York Attorney General's office issued a subpoena to Exxon last year following a series of reports claiming the company was misleading investors decades ago about the potential impact its sector had on the environment. Accusations made against the oil company are similar to those made against the tobacco industry, in that it downplayed the threats of its products despite research acknowledging the risks.

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Exxon said the allegations were inaccurate, deliberately misleading and charged "activists" with exploiting the issue. The company said its research widely mirrored the global understanding of climate issues at the time.

"Appropriate authorities will determine if the company violated any laws, but as a matter of good governance, we cannot be associated with a company exhibiting such apparent contempt for the public interest," the Rockefeller Family Fund said.

Exxon had no comment related to the divestment decision.

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