Revealed: Mobil sought to fight environmental regulation, documents show

Revealed: Mobil sought to fight environmental regulation, documents show

Oil giant looked to make tax-exempt donations to universities and civic groups in the early 1990s to promote the company’s interests

The documents come to light as ExxonMobil, formed when Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999, is now facing investigations over claims it failed to communicate known climate crisis-related risks to investors and the public. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oil giant Mobil sought to make tax-exempt donations to leading universities, civic groups and arts programmes to promote the company’s interests and undermine environmental regulation, according to internal documents from the early 1990s obtained by the Guardian.

The documents shine a light on the ways corporations have used their money to buy influence, amass prestige and shape public policy through grants to academic programmes and advocacy groups.

The documents come to light as ExxonMobil, formed when Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999, is now facing investigations by multiple state attorneys general over claims it failed to communicate known climate crisis-related risks to investors and the public.

The documents, dated in 1993 and provided to the Guardian by the Climate Investigations Center, show the Mobil Foundation justified spending by detailing major “benefits to Mobil” they expected in return for more than 80 proposed grants for 1994 – a practice not-for-profit experts said may have violated federal law.

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