ExxonMobil is the largest of the six multinational oil "supermajors" and one of the biggest energy companies worldwide, with operations spanning from oil exploration and production, oil refining, retail gas distribution, power generation, and chemical production. Exxon and Mobil both stem directly from John D. Rockfeller’s Standard Oil Company, merging in 1999 to become ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil owns the international brand Esso, and a 66% stake in Imperial Oil..
ExxonMobil has “long has enjoyed a close relationship with Congress,” using their influence to run commercial operations on federal land and push against efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency that would influence their business. The 1999 merger between Exxon and Mobil was controversial, as the creation of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company created anti-trust concerns. Heavy lobbying helped ensure the merger went through.
ExxonMobil is now the second largest public company in the country, often swapping between the top position with Wal-Mart. While Wal-Mart has an income over $100 billion larger than that of ExxonMobil, the latter is notably more profitable ($19.2 billion in 2009 compared to Wal-Mart’s $14.3 billion). The oil giant holds the all time world record for public company profitability after making $45.2 billion in profit in 2008, beating their own previous record. Combining the 2008 revenue of ExxonMobil and Chevron exceeded the GDP of all but 16 nations in the world. The first three quarters of 2010 brought the company just under $20 billion.
ExxonMobil's outgoing CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson was compensated over $281 million in his ten-year reign at the company. He was succeeded by Darren Woods in December, 2016, after Tillerson accepted Donald Trump's nomination to be U.S. Secretary of State.
Profitability and Taxation
From 2005-2008, ExxonMobil's profit increased from $36.1 billion to $45.2 billion, setting the all-time profit record for a U.S. company. In the same time frame, ExxonMobil's discontinued the employment of 3,800 people.
ExxonMobil paid no federal income taxes in 2009, when they had a net revenue (profit) of $19.2 billion.
In 2008, ExxonMobil had committed less than 1% of their profits towards researching alternative energy, totaling $10 million. In comparison, their 2010 advertising budget for energy and environmental topics has exceeded $32 million as of October 20.
ExxonMobil Ranks #2 in Historic Greenhouse Gas Emissions
According to Dr. Richard Heede's "Carbon Majors" report, peer-reviewed and published in the journal Climatic Change, ExxonMobil alone is responsible for 3.22% of the world's total fossil fuel emissions since from 1751-2010. Only Chevron accounts for more historic emissions, at 3.52%.
The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, lists ExxonMobil fourteenth among top greenhouse gas emittors in the United States. In 2014, the company released over 38 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (a measurement incorporating CO2 as well as methane and other heat-trapping gases).
Finance of Climate Change Denial
From 1997-2015, ExxonMobil spent over $33.7 million on organizations that deny the science of climate change or block policy solutions to global warming.
In 2008, ExxonMobil released a statement that appeared to mark the end of the company's investments in organizations that ignore or attack the science of climate change. The Guardian reports that in a company statement, ExxonMobil announced:
“In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner."
Since 2008 ended, ExxonMobil has spent over $9.9 million on such organizations (data on file with Greenpeace USA, available at ExxonSecrets.org).
ExxonMobil has a long history of funding junk science and public relations to create political doubt of the effects that burning fossil fuels has on the atmosphere, using similar strategies that the tobacco industry used when denying the links between smoking and cancer. Only recently did CEO Rex Tillerson reverse Exxon’s previous stance and admit that global warming is a threat. Publicity exposing Exxon’s network of climate skeptic think tanks led the company to drop funding to several of the groups, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
The Political Economy Research Institute ranks ExxonMobil fifth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. The ranking is based on the quantity (4.3 million lbs in 2014) and toxicity of the emissions. 68.7% of ExxonMobil's polluting facilities are located around communities where people of color are the majority of the population. PERI ranks ExxonMobil #17 among U.S. water polluters, releasing over three million pounds of toxic material directly onto surface waterways.
Exxon famously became the center of national attention in 1989 when the single hulled Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The tanker spilled 10.9 million gallons of crude oil into the Arctic water. The cleanup effort was notoriously difficult, and while cleanup was declared complete in 1992, oil and damage still remain. Additionally, cleanup volunteers ended out becoming ill from exposure to toxins during cleanup, some dying from related illness, while survivors continue to suffer from chronic sickness. Source: The Encyclopedia of Earth
In July of 2011, ExxonMobil's Silvertip pipeline ruptured and sent over 63,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Montana. Department of Transportation investigators faulted Exxon's slow response for making the spill response more difficult. Damage and cleanup along 70 miles of the Yellowstone River are ongoing. Exxon has spent $135 million on the cleanup effort, and faces fines of $3.4 million from state and federal agencies for safety and pollution violations.
On March 29, 2013, ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline spilled at least 210,000 gallons of tar sands diluted bitumen directly into a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas. Documents obtained and published by Greenpeace showed how Exxon lied to state regulators and the public, downplaying the extent of the tar sands contamination.
Violence in Aceh, Indonesia
In 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) filed a DC-based lawsuit on behalf of eleven anonymous plaintiffs against ExxonMobil for its role in a series of violent crimes in Indonesia from 1999-2001. The company was accused of hiring the Indonesian military to provide security for their assets in the Aceh province, resulting in the torture, rape and mass murder of Indonesian people. The plaintiffs stated that ExxonMobil was well aware of the mass violence they were funding, while the company claimed that the suit was filed simply to bring publicity to ILRF. In September, 2009, Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the case, stating, "Where a non-resident alien is harmed in his own country, he cannot and should not expect entitlement to the advantages of a United States court." Exxon has made tens of billions of dollars from their operations in Aceh.
Political Spending and Lobbying
Since 1999, ExxonMobil has spent almost $9.3 million on political campaign contributions, $1.4 million of which went to politicians in the 2015-2016 election cycle (10% to Democrats, 90% to Republicans). ExxonMobil sends addition money on state politics, spending over $17 million since 1990.
Since 1998 lobbying disclosure laws went into effect, ExxonMobil has spent over $229 million on federal lobbying, making it the country's twelfth highest spender.
In response to a three-phase plan to start controlling greenhouse gas pollution, ExxonMobil contributed pressure to former president George W. Bush's office to prevent the Bush EPA from acting, effectively delaying initial EPA regulation for almost three years.
The ExxonMobil Foundation is a donor to the National Science Teachers Association, leveraging their millions of dollars in donations to pressure the organization to present information on global warming and the oil industry in a favorable way and offering corporate-built lesson plans and textbooks. Exxon money has gone directly to fund "mathematics and science content at grades 3-5."