ExxonMobil, Chevron claim climate change too complicated for shareholder vote

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ExxonMobil and Chevron are resisting federal demands that shareholders vote on policies that could affect climate change, arguing that the issue is too complicated for shareholders to understand.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is backing demands by some shareholders that they get to vote on whether to analyze the financial impact of new climate change laws or regulations.

ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX)both replied to the SEC that they're not required to allow the votes. SEC staffers disagreed, informing the companies that they are required to allow shareholder votes.

Chevron told CNNMoney that they're asking the SEC to drop "the proposal" because it "requests the public disclosure of our internal analysis and carbon pricing, which would provide our competition with a window into our viewpoints, operations, resource and reserve base, asset queue and decision making."

The back-and-forth of letters between the companies and the SEC reveal other reasons why they don't want shareholders casting votes on what to do about climate control regulation.

Related: Epic oil glut gets worse

ExxonMobil complained that the SEC's proposal is "likely only understood and appreciated by shareholders with a significant level of knowledge and expertise regarding climate change science and policy."

Chevron told the SEC that such matters are best left in the hands of managers, not shareholders.

"Stockholders are not positioned to make such judgments," said Chevron. "Rather, determining appropriate responses to and assessing the impact of such reforms are matters more appropriately addressed by management."

The oil industry is dealing with plunging prices and a glut in supply. The companies don't want to get stuck with too much oil that they can only sell at rock-bottom prices.

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