“ExxonMobil’s New Board Members Are Good News, But Aren’t Climate Activists”

“Outcomes from ExxonMobil will be slightly better because of this, and as they are one of the largest greenhouse gas producers in the world, that’s definitely positive. A much better action for BlackRock would have been to very publicly divest their 6.7% ownership position of ExxonMobil entirely.

ByMichael Barnard

Headlines across the world are blaring this week about ExxonMobil being forced to accept two ‘climate activists’ on its Board of Directors, over the opposition of their CEO. But let’s take a closer look.

Yes, 2 new Board members of the 4 put forward by activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 were approved.

“We welcome the new directors, Gregory Goff and Kaisa Hietala, to the board and look forward to working with them constructively and collectively on behalf of all shareholders,” Woods said at the end of Exxon’s shareholder meeting.

But climate activists?

Let’s look at them more closely, because people who are just ‘climate activists’ don’t end up on multi-billion dollar global corporate boards. Let’s start with Gregory Goff, from his Board of Directors page for Enbridge.

“Mr. Goff was Executive Vice Chairman of Marathon Petroleum Corporation from October 2018 until his retirement in December 2019. Mr. Goff was President and Chief Executive Officer of Andeavor (an integrated downstream energy company) from 2010 to 2018 and Chairman from December 2014 to 2018. Prior thereto, Mr. Goff held a number of senior leadership positions with ConocoPhillips Corporation (an oil and gas exploration and production company). Mr. Goff holds a BS (Bachelor of Science) and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the University of Utah.”

“Yeah, so EVP of a major petroleum firm. President and CEO of a downstream energy company. Leadership in ConocoPhillips. Director on the Board of Enbridge, a major O&G pipeline company. Hardly just a ‘climate activist’.

“In fact, if you search for his name and climate on Google, you find exactly one match, about a speech he made in 2016. Let’s look at what he said, shall we?

“Goff said the abundant, affordable reliable energy is good, and that the benefits of America’s free-market economy should be recognized. He said the energy regulatory framework must be fair and reasonable. Globally, Goff noted that 1.4 billion people live without electricity. He said eight in 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa heat their homes and cook their food using open fires:

“People everywhere have an inherent right, regardless of where they live, to better their lives for themselves and their children.”

“Goff on the development of energy regulation by government:

“In a complex society such as ours there’s a need for appropriate regulation, and the regulations must be based on the principles of transparency, fairness and accountability. … First, agencies should get scientific advice from independent scientists not being given money by those agencies. This is called avoidance of conflict of interest. Data called upon for calculation of expected benefits of regulations should be made available to the general public. This is called transparency. Data developed with taxpayers’ dollars and used to develop regulations should also be made available to the general public. This is called basic fairness. Regulations of enormous and significant economic impact should be subject to reviews and approval by Congress. This is called accountability…”


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