Feb 29, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Exxon draws K Street allies in key shareholder case

Illustration of a gavel with an oil barrel as the head.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable hope to join Exxon's litigation against shareholder climate activists.

Why it matters: It signals that the K Street powerhouses see this case as an important front in wider battles over shareholder activism on climate and other topics.

State of play: The groups yesterday asked a Texas federal judge to accept an amicus brief that says the SEC makes excluding resolutions too hard.

  • "By opening the door to shareholder proposals pushing social and political agendas, the SEC has allowed a subset of activists to commandeer corporate proxy statements for their own parochial ends," it states.
  • They say this is expensive and diverts time from "proper consideration of genuine proposals."

Catch up quick: Last month, Exxon sued Arjuna Capital and the group Follow This over a resolution seeking more expansive emissions targets.

  • The activists have moved to dismiss the case now that they've abandoned the resolution and vowed not to re-file it.
  • They accuse Exxon of trying to bully and silence advocates of tougher climate action.
  • Exxon argues the case should continue because SEC's interpretation is allowing resolutions "designed to disrupt" business and "harm" shareholders.

The bottom line: K Street has entered the chat.

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