UPDATE 6-Rockefeller Family Fund hits Exxon, divests from fossil fuels

Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:47am EDT
 
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(Adds comment from InsideClimate News and that Columbia University could not be reached for comment)

By Terry Wade and Anna Driver

HOUSTON/NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it would divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and "eliminate holdings" of Exxon Mobil Corp, saying the oil company associated with the family fortune has misled the public about climate change risks.

Though only a sliver of the endowment's modest $130 million in assets is invested in fossil fuels, the move is notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil. The charity said it would also divest from coal and Canadian oil sands.

Given the threat posed to the survival of human and natural ecosystems, "there is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons," the Rockefeller Family Fund said.

In a letter posted on its website, the fund said Exxon's conduct on climate issues appears to be "morally reprehensible."

Exxon said the Rockefeller fund's move was not surprising.

"The Rockefeller Family Fund provided financial support to InsideClimate News and Columbia University Journalism School which produced inaccurate and deliberately misleading stories about ExxonMobil's history of climate research," Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said in a statement.

Stacy Feldman, executive editor of InsideClimate News, stands by those stories.   Continued...