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IRVING, Texas -- Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders defeated a pair of resolutions calling for more environmental transparency from the gas and oil giant.
In the 21 percent of shareholders favored a resolution to have the company issue a report on its response to growing pressure to develop renewable energy. Last year, 20 percent of shareholders had voted for the measure. In addition, 22 percent if shareholders supported a resolution calling for the company to report on its strategies for addressing global warming, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
Chairman and chief executive Lee R. Raymond defended ExxonMobil's environmental record and said the world's largest publicly traded oil company wouldn't be pressured into making "social statements" that would hurt investors.
On another matter, Raymond said ExxonMobil is interested in buying more oil from Iraq but won't decide for several years whether to seek to explore for oil there. "We're the world's biggest buyer of crude oil, so you can expect we will look at that very closely," he told reporters. He said drilling in Iraq was "not too likely" in the short term and that any bid to operate there would be made openly. Iraq has the world's second-largest reserves behind Saudi Arabia.
Shareholders met at the Dallas symphony hall amid tight security one day after environmental activists blocked the front gate and managed to infiltrate ExxonMobil's headquarters in Irving. On Wednesday, dozens of Dallas police officers kept their eyes on protesters, who were sometimes outnumbered by pro-Exxon demonstrators singing "Give oil a chance."
Inside the hall, religious and environmental groups pushed the company to increase its investment in renewable energy and its actions against global warming. Raymond said the market for renewable energy was very limited and driven almost entirely by government requirements rather than customer demand. He predicted that even with rapid growth, wind and solar power would account for less than 1 percent of world energy by 2020. He said lower-priced oil and gas would remain the dominant sources of energy.
A resolution to ban discrimination against homosexuals was defeated, but received 27 percent, up from 24 percent last year. Kim Mills of the Human Rights Campaign said Exxon Mobil was needlessly restricting the pool of potential workers and that many other large U.S. corporations have approved similar resolutions, including J.C. Penney Co. this year.
The oil company argued that its policy prohibits discrimination of any kind and that explicit protection for gays is unnecessary.