Jon Coifman, 212-727-4535 or 917-575-1885
Oil Giant Stonewalls Consumer, Environmental Safeguards
While Reaping Record Profits on Soaring Petroleum Prices
ALBANY (February 1, 2006) -- Consumer and environmental groups are calling on state regulators to end ExxonMobil's longstanding government-granted grip on 13 New York State Thruway fueling stations because of the company's longstanding negative track record toward motorists and the environment -- a record that sets the world's largest corporation apart from others in the oil industry.
The lucrative five-year contracts to operate the stations are up for review and renewal this week. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and four other organizations made their appeal this week to John L. Buono, chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority. They also want to make sure that ExxonMobil does not wind up controlling the stations by way of a franchise operator, or as the supplier to another company.
"ExxonMobil has gone out of its way time and again to distinguish itself from its competitors as the most anti-environmental oil company in the business. It's company policy, and we should not be rewarding it," said NRDC attorney Eric A. Goldstein. "Our message to the Thruway Authority is, 'Deliver us from Exxon.'"
This week ExxonMobil has been downplaying its record-setting $36 billion profit for the year, a 40 percent increase over 2004, which also was a banner year. The company's total revenue in 2005 even exceeded the national income of Saudi Arabia, according to the New York Times.
Among the concerns voiced by the groups about the company:
- ExxonMobil has aggressively opposed limits on the heat-trapping pollution that causes global warming, and has funded professional skeptics to try to undercut broad scientific consensus on the problem.
- ExxonMobil's 1999 merger, combining the former number-one and -two oil companies in the industry, has been costly for consumers, adding four to five cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline sold by the combined company, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
- ExxonMobil is the only oil company still participating in Arctic Power, the single-issue group lobbying hard to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
- ExxonMobil is the subject of a major class action lawsuit by station dealers who say the company overcharged them. In May 2005, a federal court ruled that ExxonMobil acted improperly in seeking to delay and complicate the claims process, and imposed extra sanctions. In December the company offered to settle for $1.075 billion, a cost that likely would be passed on to consumers.
- Sixteen years after the nation's worst oil spill, ExxonMobil still has not paid all of the punitive damages awarded to thousands of fishing industry workers who were forced out of business by the 1989 break-up of the Exxon Valdez tanker in Price Williams Sound.
In addition to NRDC, groups calling on the Thruway Authority to break ExxonMobil's grip on New York motorists include the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG); Environmental Advocates; Riverkeeper; and the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club.