Enlarge / FORT WORTH, Texas: The Barnett Shale Gas field at dusk, February 27, 2006. XTO Energy Inc. is extracting natural gas at this facility. (credit: J.G.

Domke/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
On Monday, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil announced that it would voluntarily take extra steps to reduce methane emissions during a three-year program aimed at some of its US-based facilities.

The company declared that it would use more thorough leak detection and repair processes, as well as upgrade facilities with better equipment.
The news comes as various agencies in the federal government have been moving to dismantle methane-monitoring rules put in place by the Obama administration (all while the Republican-controlled Congress has voted to protect some of those same rules). Exxon is also facing scrutiny from state attorneys general who claim that the company may have misled investors on the nature and urgency of global climate change caused by carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the company faced an investor vote (albeit a non-binding one) earlier this year that resulted in 62.3 percent of investors expressing their desire for Exxon to conduct an annual risk review of climate change on the company’s business.
So Exxon’s move might be a way to create some goodwill in the face of an increasing number of investors and customers who are concerned about the future of the oil company’s risk profile and its image.

This might also safeguard against another sudden regulatory pivot in the US, years or decades down the line.
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