Protestors Greet Exxon Mobil Annual Shareholders Meeting

Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) gathered Wednesday for the oil company's annual meeting while demonstrators wearing oil drums protested that the company is helping retard action against global warming.

Shareholders were scheduled to take up several resolutions from dissident shareholders on environmental and executive compensation issues. Some of the same proposals have failed to win majority support in past years.

The meeting marks the public debut of new Chairman and Chief Executive Rex W. Tillerson, who took over in January when longtime CEO Lee R. Raymond retired. Raymond's confrontations with dissident shareholders were staples of past meetings.

Before the meeting, shareholders noshed on doughnuts and viewed company exhibits in the lobby of the ornate Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, earned a record $36 billion last year.

Across the street, about 50 demonstrators from a group called Expose Exxon donned oil drums and chanted slogans such as "Human need, not corporate greed." Two dozen police officers watched the group, and a police helicopter hovered above.

Most shareholders entered from an underground parking garage and never saw the protesters.

"We're asking Exxon Mobil to start investing in clean alternative renewable energy like its competitors do," said the director of Washington-based Expose Exxon, Shawnee Hoover. She also criticized the company's funding of groups that question scientific theories that the burning of oil-based fuels are contributing to global warming.

Over the years, Exxon officials have said it wasn't prudent for the company to invest large amounts in alternative energy. Tillerson has said recently that he doesn't expect alternative fuels to replace oil in the next 30 years.