SEC Now asking What #ExxonKnew

September 21, 2016

This seems like a big deal.  Official investigations heating up almost as fast as the planet.

Wall Street Journal:

The SEC sought information and documents in August from Exxon and the company’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, according to people familiar with the matter. The federal agency has been receiving documents the company submitted as part of a continuing probe into similar issues begun last year by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the people said.

The SEC’s probe is homing in on how Exxon calculates the impact to its business from the world’s mounting response to climate change, including what figures the company uses to account for the future costs of complying with regulations to curb greenhouse gases as it evaluates the economic viability of its projects.

The decision to step into an Exxon investigation and seek climate-related information represents a moment in the effort to take climate change more seriously in the financial community, said Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas program at Ceres, a Boston-based advocacy organization that has pushed for more carbon-related disclosure from companies.

“It’s a potential tipping point not just for Exxon, but for the industry as a whole,” he said.

As part of its probe, the SEC is also examining Exxon’s longstanding practice of not writing down the value of its oil and gas reserves when prices fall, people familiar with the matter said. Exxon is the only major U.S. producer that hasn’t taken a write down or impairment since oil prices plunged two years ago. Peers including Chevron Corp. have lowered valuations by a collective $50 billion.


The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating Exxon Mobil over how it factors in climate risk in pricing its projects.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the investigation is looking into the company’s accounting practices.

The company is working with the SEC, said Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon.

“The SEC is the appropriate entity to examine issues related to impairment, reserves and other communications important to investors. We are fully complying with the SEC request for information and are confident our financial reporting meets all legal and accounting requirements,” he said in a statement.

Last week, the Journalciting people familiar with the matter reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been inquiring into why the company has not written down the value of its assets despite a decline in oil prices.

Schneiderman’s office is already looking into whether the oil giant’s past research into climate change, which did not become public until recently, could impact its business and shareholders.


5 Responses to “SEC Now asking What #ExxonKnew”

    • One can only wonder if the ICC (or similar arrangements) will be able to prosecute the businesses and people who have deliberately been creating pseudoscience and spreading denial about AGW. One can only hope a few prosecutions can help stopping their nonsense being spread anymore.

      I often say this, if you choose to smoke you are mainly harming yourself (and possibly a few around you), if you deny climate science, you are effectively trying to ruin the life of every living thing on the planet.

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        pour en·cou·ra·ger les autres

        a quotation well known being by Voltaire and from his book Candide, referring to the execution of Admiral John Byng on the quarter deck of his one time flagship HMS Monarch, itself a prize from the French (Monarque).

        The circumstance of Byng failure to engage fully enemy forces that would descend on Minorca were ironic in so much as he had a much weaker force of vessels overdue for docking, resupply and crew additions to replace ‘wastage’, unfortunately the Anson headed Admiralty decided to make him an example rather than own up to inefficiencies and jobbery in high places.

        Thus, those who have mislead the public about the true nature of the environmental cliff we are speeding towards have far less excuse than poor John Byng.

        Unlike the Donald I am not hinting at execution, stripping of assets maybe and terms of imprisonment without perks and luxuries. Any hidden assets could be a source of perverting the prison system so should be sequestered too away from temptation.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Don’t yawn yet, because this could be a VERY big deal if it moves forward with any speed (which any action in the ICC likely won’t).

      Exxon being found in violation of SEC guidelines could be the first stake in the fossil fuel industry’s vampire heart. (The AG’s are already sprinkling holy water on them and opening the blinds to let the sun shine in)

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