Chevron

Fracking on Proxy Ballots at Chevron and Exxon

Described as laggards for their failure to address investor concerns, the oil and gas giants face shareowner resolutions addressing environmental and social risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.

SocialFunds.com — Shareowners have filed 11 resolutions this year with oil and gas companies, requesting that they quantifiably measure and reduce the environmental and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The nature of the shareowner requests were honed in part last year when a coalition of institutional investors called on companies to observe the best practices set out in an Investor Guide issued by the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

“We’re encouraging a corporate race to the top in adopting best practices,” Richard Liroff of IEHN said.

Also last year, a consortium of oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing in Appalachia created the Recommended Standards and Practices for Exploration and Production of Natural Gas and Oil from Appalachian Shales.

One of the signatories to the document was Chevron, which as one of the 12 coalition members agreed to “strive to be responsible operators that conduct business in a transparent and sustainable manner, and openly communicate with stakeholders.” Chevron and the other members also asserted that the consortium’s “consensus-based approach…provides a roadmap to enhance transparency and regulatory compliance.”

But according to the resolution filed by ICCR members, “By their own language, these standards describe what companies ‘should do’ rather than what companies currently do or commit to doing.”

“Proponents suggest the report include specific data on emission reduction measures taken such as the number or percentage of ‘green completions’ and other low-cost emission reduction measures; systems to track and manage naturally occurring radioactive materials; the extent to which closed-loop systems for management of drilling residuals are used; the numbers of community complaints or grievances and portion open or closed; and quantifying the amounts of water used and the source for shale energy operations by region,” the resolution concluded.

“By its own admission Chevron knows what it should do, yet continues to drag its feet on implementation putting the health of millions of communities at great risk,” Sr. Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia said. “How does a company of its size and status justify this position?”

Exxon Mobil is not a member of the Appalachian consortium, but its subsidiary XTO Energy is and signed the Recommended Standards document. Exxon is also a target of a resolution addressing hydraulic fracturing. The resolution, co-filed by the New York City Pension Funds and As You Sow, includes requests similar to those made by ICCR members to Chevron.

“Exxon has repeatedly resisted calls that it provide investors with detailed information on its safety measures,” an As You Sow press release states.

“Exxon has repeatedly failed to measure the harms its fracking operations cause to air, water, and nearby communities, or any progress it is making towards reducing those harms,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. “Exxon shareholders need this information to make sound investment decisions.”

And New York City Comptroller John Liu, the trustee for the NYC Pension Funds, said, “Fracking carries significant concerns about poisoned drinking water, toxic chemical leaks, and explosions. Exxon Mobil says, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered’ and asks us to take it at its word. Until the company shows us hard data on what it has done to protect the public and environment, shareowners cannot be confident that the necessary safeguards exist.”

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This article is written by Robert Kropp and is published by SocialFunds.com at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3756.html

Social Funds

Shareowners Press on with Anti-Fracking Campaign

Nine oil and gas companies face shareowner resolutions this proxy season requesting quantitative reporting of risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and the management of fugitive methane emissions.

Socialstop frackinigFunds.com — Nine leading oil and gas companies—Cabot Oil and Gas, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, EOG Resources, ONEOK, Pioneer Natural Resources, Spectra Energy, Range Resources and Ultra Petroleum—face shareowner resolutions this proxy season requesting that they quantifiably measure and reduce the environmental and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing, according to Ceres.

The proposals on fracking were filed by a number of organizations, including As You Sow, Calvert Investments, Green Century Capital Management, New York City Office of the Comptroller, The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and Trillium Asset Management. The resolution filed with Cabot by the New York State Common Retirement Fund has been withdrawn due to commitments on disclosure made by the company.

Since 2009, when shareowners filed the first of 21 resolutions that by 2010 had gained an unprecedented 40% support, concerns over the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have gone mainstream. Risks associated with contamination by toxic chemicals of community drinking water supplies, the disposal of massive volumes of wastewater, and increased air emissions have been widely covered in the media, threatening the social license to operate of companies engaged in the controversial practice.

Green Century, which filed this year’s resolutions with EOG Resources and Ultra Petroleum, coordinates a shareowner campaign on fracking with the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN). “Transparency is the first step, but oil and gas companies must now implement quantifiable plans to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment,” Leslie Samuelrich of Green Century said.

“State regulations do not provide adequate protection from the adverse effects of shale gas operations,” the resolution filed with EOG Resources states. “Shareholders request that the Board of Directors publish a set of systematic policies for tracking and responding to community concerns, reducing the use of toxic chemicals, disclosing violations, and reporting to shareholders, on an annual basis via quantitative indicators, the results of these policies.”

“Oil and gas firms face clear environmental and business risks, and general assurances of safety and anecdotes about site-specific actions are not sufficient for investors,” said Richard Liroff, Executive Director of IEHN. “Shareholders want to know how companies are systematically tackling environmental risk and community impact concerns and the measurable results of these efforts.”

Resolutions addressing fugitive methane emissions from the fracking process were filed with Range Resources, ONEOK, and Spectra Energy by Trillium Asset Management. “Given the high short-term climate impact of methane emissions, it is now an open question whether natural gas can serve as a bridge fuel to a more sustainable energy future,” said Natasha Lamb of Trillium. “Companies can and should reduce their emissions using new technologies with positive return on investment.”

Last year, an international coalition of institutional investors with $1 trillion in assets under management, led by IEHN, Boston Common Asset Management, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) called for the adoption of best practices by corporations engaged in hydraulic fracturing. Also last year, an international coalition of institutional investment organizations with assets under management in excess of $20 trillion called on companies and governments to minimize methane emitted in the fracking process.

“The oil and gas industry must account for its impact on natural resources, the climate and communities,” said Mindy Lubber, director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) and president of Ceres. “The environmental risks of fracking have bottom-line impacts, and investors are right to be demanding better performance from oil and gas firms.”

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This article was written by Robert Kropp and is published at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3741.html

Social Funds

A Trillion Dollar Call for Best Practices in Fracking Operations

alecfossilfuelfunders-editedFifty-five institutional investment organizations representing $1 trillion in assets under management call for adoption of best practices by oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing.

SocialFunds.com — Many oil and gas companies are focusing their operations on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, claiming that the reserves of natural gas available by means of the process contribute a pathway toward national energy independence.

However, concerns have been mounting rapidly over the impacts of fracking. Those concerns include the contamination of groundwater sources by the often toxic chemicals used in the process; ; and the impacts on formerly rural communities of what Mark Regier of Everence Financial described to SocialFunds.com last month as a “gold rush.”

Sustainable investors and other concerned shareowners were quick to begin addressing the environmental and social risks of fracking, and by the time of last year’s proxy season shareowner resolutions addressing the practice were already gaining an average 40% support.

At a press conference held last week, an international coalition of institutional investors with $1 trillion in assets under management called for the adoption of best practices by corporations engaged in hydraulic fracturing. The coalition of 55 investment organizations is led by Boston Common Asset Management, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN).

Citing an Investor Guide published late last year by ICCR and IEHN, the investors identified the risks to companies engaged in the practice. The risks include moratoria and outright bans on fracking; the absence of systematic reporting on risk management; and growing investor unrest over the inability to fully evaluate the practices of companies.

Richard Liroff of IEHN told SocialFunds.com at the time of the Investor Guide’s publication, “There’s a moratorium in the Delaware River Basin, there’s been a moratorium in New York State, there’s a moratorium in the Province of Quebec. There is a ban in France, there is a moratorium in South Africa, and there is a moratorium in the New South Wales state in Australia.”

The investor coalition also pointed out that Chevron’s exploration license in Bulgaria was cancelled as well. In January, legislators there overwhelmingly approved a ban on fracking.

“Investors need to have greater certainty in the marketplace as to industry practices and government regulation,” said Steven Heim of Boston Common. “The best course here for investors, the environment and human health will be if all shale gas extractors wake up, get the message, and use these tools to do it right.”

According to the Investor Guide, best practice in fracking includes 12 core goals:
• Manage risks transparently and at board level;
• Reduce surface footprint;
• Assure well integrity;
• Reduce and disclose all toxic chemicals;
• Protect water quality by rigorous monitoring;
• Minimize fresh water use;
• Prevent contamination from waste water;
• Minimize and disclose air emissions;
• Prevent contamination from solid waste and sludge residuals;
• Assure best in class contractor performance;
• Secure community consent; and
• Disclose fines, penalties and litigation.

At the press conference, Liroff said, “We’re encouraging a corporate race to the top in adopting best practices. The best-practices guide backed by major investors offers both currently achievable goals, such as minimizing fresh water use, and more aspirational goals, such as virtually eliminating toxic chemicals from fracturing operations.”

“The guide cites practices that are already used by 17 companies,” Liroff continued. “Many companies will save money and lower risks, providing business, environmental, and community benefits.”

A second report on fracking, published earlier this year by the IRRC Institute and the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), stated, “How companies respond to further calls for transparency and adherence to best practices will influence whether the operating environment will improve or whether future rounds of even more stringent regulation or outright bans on drilling will ensue. Given the public scrutiny, a few bad actors may put the entire industry’s license to operate at risk.”

That a significant number of companies are now listening to investor concerns over fracking can be discerned by the fact that of the ten resolutions filed this year addressing the practice, six have been withdrawn in favor of engagement.

At last week’s press conference, Sister Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, said, “Shale gas companies must earn their ‘social license’ by operating in a more responsible manner. Companies must address the community and environmental concerns prompting bans and moratoria. They must listen closely, respond sensitively, and account to both investors and communities for their actions. Otherwise, this is an uncharted process of unwanted development that deprives communities of their rights and leads to litigation and loss of investor confidence.”

Two of the fracking resolutions remaining are filed with Chevron and ExxonMobil, and shareowners will vote on them at the companies’ annual general meetings, both scheduled for May 30th.

“Chevron and ExxonMobil are emerging as laggards by failing to address investor concerns in a meaningful way,” said Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Green Century Capital Management, a lead filer of the Chevron proposal. “As two of the largest oil and gas companies in the US, these companies should step up and respond to a significant portion of their shareholders by providing increased disclosure on how each company is managing the risks associated with fracking operations.”

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This article was posted by SocialFunds.com at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/article3534.html

Social Funds

The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics

A month after President Obama won reelection, America’s most powerful liberal groups met to plan their next moves. Here’s what they talked about.

It was the kind of meeting that conspiratorial conservative bloggers dream about.

A month after President Barack Obama won reelection, top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA), a few blocks north of the White House. Brought together by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the NAACP, the meeting was invite-only and off-the-record. Despite all the Democratic wins in November, a sense of outrage filled the room as labor officials, environmentalists, civil rights activists, immigration reformers, and a panoply of other progressive leaders discussed the challenges facing the left and what to do to beat back the deep-pocketed conservative movement… More →

A Lot of White Space: Firms Drop Off ALEC’s Meeting Brochure

Very significant results of the ongoing campaign to make ALEC a toxic relationship for its corporate members.  Reported on by Lisa Graves of CMD and re-posted hereApparent among all of the excellent information she has provided, is the emergence of the State Policy Network (SPN) as perhaps the “heir apparent” to ALEC?  To find out a lot more about SPN, I refer you to Sourcewatch’s report on SPN’s finances, membership, and goals, which you can read by clicking here.
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…last year’s conference was filled with favorable press coverage and bankrolled by at least 82 private sector corporations were convention underwriters.

This year, only 36 corporations were willing to have their logos listed as paying for ALEC’s schmooze and booze affair. Not all 46 of those missing corporations have left ALEC, but dozens have fled the sunshine that CMD and other investigative journalists, advocates, and concerned citizens across the country have focused on ALEC and the power it has given to corporations to try to rewrite hundreds of laws across the United States.

Gates Foundation Reveals its Dark Side After Ditching ALEC

While funding $218 million polio and measles immunization research, the foundation also invested $400 million in 69 of North America’s worst polluting companies and $423 million in companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Chevron – oil firms responsible for pollution which has caused  respiratory problems in local African populations. In 2005, the foundation held $1.5 billion worth of stocks in drug companies who price their products beyond the reach of AIDS patients in Africa and are widely criticized for creating barriers to the flow of medicines to Third World countries.

Read more about a number of the less than savory activities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation here.