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Rockefeller Family Fund Blasts ExxonMobil, Pledges Divestment From Fossil Fuels

Rockefeller Family Fund Blasts ExxonMobil, Pledges Divestment From Fossil Fuels

The heirs of John D. Rockefeller attacked ExxonMobil this week, a company that is also a descendant of the famed oil baron.

The Rockefeller Family Fund has announced that it will divest its assets from fossil fuels. In a statement posted on its website, the fund said that, due to the need to eliminate fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, it “makes little sense – financially or ethically – to continue holding investments in these companies. There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons.”

The Rockefeller Family Fund is a philanthropy set up by the fourth-generation descendants of John D. Rockfeller, and shouldn’t be confused with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the third-generation organization, which announced its decision to divest from fossil fuels in 2014. Related: Oil Prices Fall Fast On Huge Inventory Build

The Rockefeller Family Fund took a parting shot at ExxonMobil in its statement, which is the largest descendant of Standard Oil Company. “We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of ExxonMobil.” The organization said that ExxonMobil “worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded.”

The foundation, of course, is referring to the news reports that surfaced in 2015 which alleged that ExxonMobil has known for decades about the role that oil and gas play in fueling climate change, but actively funded campaigns to obscure the public and scientific understanding about climate change. In November 2015, the New York attorney general opened up an investigation into the oil supermajor.

“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 wrote. The Fund’s $130 million in assets will be withdrawn from ExxonMobil, plus all coal and tar-sands companies, with proceeds redirected into investments that have some sort of social responsibility element to them. Related: Brussel’s Terror Attack Drives Europe Further Into Terrorism Rabbit Hole

ExxonMobil dismissed the divestment announcement. "It's not surprising that they're divesting from the company since they're already funding a conspiracy against us," a company spokesman told CNBC on March 23. Additionally, in a March 14 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, Suzanne McCarron, Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs, rejected the allegations that the company covered up climate science. “…the recent accusations against ExxonMobil make no sense — that is, until you learn that the anti-ExxonMobil campaign, and the supposedly unbiased media reports it rests upon, is in fact funded by groups actively opposed to the use of oil and natural gas,” McCarron wrote.

Separately, the divestment news came in the same week that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission decided that ExxonMobil must offer a climate change resolution as part of its annual shareholder proxy. The SEC sent a letter to the oil supermajor, which was seen by Reuters, saying that the company must allow shareholders to vote on whether or not to require the company to detail the risks to shareholders from climate change or potential legislation meant to address climate change.

Any legislation, such as a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade system, or other measures meant to block the production of oil and gas, would likely present a financial risk to the company and reduce shareholder value. ExxonMobil opposed the requirement to detail those risks, arguing that it already provides adequate information. The SEC disagreed. "It does not appear that Exxon Mobil's public disclosures compare favorably with the guidelines of the proposal," Justin Kisner, an attorney-adviser with the SEC, wrote in the letter, referring to a proposal by the New York Comptroller to require ExxonMobil to offer more detailed information. The Comptroller oversees New York’s $178 billion pension fund. Related: Record Loss For Petrobras As Political And Economic Crisis Worsen

“This is a major victory for investors who are working to address the risks that global warming presents to our portfolios,” NY Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wrote in a statement. “The Securities and Exchange Commission’s determination upholds shareholders’ rights to ask for vital information. Investors need to know if ExxonMobil is taking necessary steps to prepare for a lower carbon future, particularly now in the wake of the Paris agreement. We look forward to presenting our proposal to fellow shareholders at ExxonMobil’s annual meeting.”

History has come full circle, with the descendants of one of the world’s most famous oil icons deciding that they will move their fortune, which was built on oil, away from fossil fuels. The Rockefeller Family Fund recognized their long history in making money from oil production. “But history moves on, as it must,” the organization wrote.


By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Brett on March 24 2016 said:
    What a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites. Sell that stock and take the capital loss. And push down the value of the stock while you're at it
  • R Jensen on March 24 2016 said:
    Now you can see the source of all the climate hysteria. Good--put all your assets in Sun Edison.
  • Kie on March 25 2016 said:
    Unfortunately there is a bigger Rockefeller fund which is not divesting - the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • CENTURION on March 25 2016 said:
    Frauds. Spoiled rotten brats.

    They really care? Give the money back. What ever you inherited from this nasty oil is therefore evil and bad. GIve it back.

    Each of you should donate everything you have, that is linked to Standard Oil, to a worthy cause (that in itself is doubtful). BUT to keep the money and then complain about where it came from is just sickening.

    You don't like OIL PROFITS? I do. Give it all to me. You will feel so much better getting rid of this evil and washing your hands of it and making a real sacrifice for humanity, you jerks.
  • GREG on March 25 2016 said:
    Yes, it's very easy to play "holier than thou" after one's made millions off energy investments and are sitting on billions of dollars. If the foundation truly felt "guilt" and "remorse" with respect to their energy portfolio, why don't they "donate" all of the earnings from the fund-at least from the 80's when the supposed fraud began-to the NGO's supporting the underprivileged of the US?

    Actually, I was surprised to see that only $130 million was invested in energy stocks(Exxon), tar sands, etc.
  • Voltaire on March 25 2016 said:
    ...and that climate-change conspiracy all stems from the good ol' "cause-and-effect" conspiracy. Wise people should know there is no such thing as cause and effect (or action-reaction if you will)... Isaac Newton was indeed one of the greatest socialist charlatans ever.

    The burning of hydrocarbons does not pollute, proof: smoke coming out of my diesel truck disappears by itself.

    Knowledge is the greatest hoax ever. Long live metaphysics!
  • ACE814 on March 25 2016 said:
    These "limousine liberals" make me sick. How dare you attack the O&G industry that has provided EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO!! The entire Rockefeller lineage would be just a bunch of normal people actually working for a living instead of being coddled their entire existence if it wasn't for John D. I'm proud to say I'm a denier of man-made climate change! We are being fooled into a desperate attempt to tax our carbon footprint. Computer models are easily manipulated for an agenda, and that's exactly what's happening. I have yet to have anyone explain the disappearance of the glaciers that once stretched as far south as NE Kansas? Where did they go and why did they regress back into Canada 14,000 years ago carving out the great lakes? Was man spewing CO2 14,000 years ago causing the glaciers to melt from the warming taking place? Were the mammoths driving SUV's? The funny thing is, I'm all for investing our money and time into alternative energy sources because I am a realist. We only have a finite supply of oil & natural gas, but what I hate is that people vilify it and demand that we stop when it is doing absolutely NOTHING to the environment. A volcano emits more CO2 in one eruption than humans have done in a lifetime! We need every single option when it comes to energy production, why not embrace the fact that O&G has allowed people to live in areas that previously had been impossible to imagine? Everyone should read the book "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels" by Alex Epstein. A very good read for those who agree or maybe disagree. Thank you
  • Roy Barton on March 25 2016 said:
    They will also have to quit flying, driving their Suburbans and using:


    Diesel fuel

    Motor Oil

    Bearing Grease


    Floor Wax

    Ballpoint Pens

    Football Cleats





    Bicycle Tires

    Sports Car Bodies

    Nail Polish

    Fishing lures



    Golf Bags



    Dishwasher parts

    Tool Boxes

    Shoe Polish

    Motorcycle Helmet


    Petroleum Jelly

    Transparent Tape

    CD Player

    Faucet Washers




    Food Preservatives



    Vitamin Capsules










    Panty Hose



    Life Jackets

    Rubbing Alcohol



    TV Cabinets

    Shag Rugs

    Electrician's Tape

    Tool Racks

    Car Battery Cases





    Insect Repellent

    Oil Filters




    Hair Coloring


    Toilet Seats

    Fishing Rods


    Denture Adhesive


    Ice Cube Trays

    Synthetic Rubber


    Plastic Wood

    Electric Blankets


    Tennis Rackets

    Rubber Cement

    Fishing Boots


    Nylon Rope


    Trash Bags

    House Paint

    Water Pipes

    Hand Lotion

    Roller Skates

    Surf Boards



    Paint Rollers

    Shower Curtains

    Guitar Strings



    Safety Glasses


    Football Helmets





    Ice Chests



    CD's & DVD's

    Paint Brushes




    Sun Glasses


    Heart Valves









    Artificial Turf

    Artificial limbs



    Model Cars

    Folding Doors

    Hair Curlers

    Cold cream

    Movie film

    Soft Contact lenses

    Drinking Cups

    Fan Belts

    Car Enamel

    Shaving Cream



    Golf Balls


  • Lee James on March 25 2016 said:
    Most petroleum is burned, and is consumed in the short term. Folks don't quarrel much with the longer term, relatively low-volume uses such polymers, lubricants and phase-change refrigerants.

    Burning up in a couple of hundred years what it took millions of years to make underground does not make a lot of sense -- especially when byproducts of combustion are now known to be so harmful to health and good ecology. You can toot petroleum's horn for some things more than others.

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