SocialFunds.com

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 The resolution filed with Cabot by the New York State Common Retirement Fund has been withdrawn due to commitments on disclosure made by the company.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

Keystone Pipeline First Challenge for Obama on Climate Change

With two new reports describing greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development as even worse than expected, environmentalists and sustainable investors are likely to scrutinize the State Department’s upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

This week, SocialFunds.com reported on two new reports analyzing potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, both of which warned that previous estimates, as dire as they have been, failed to capture completely the potential environmental impacts of a practice that has been called “the most destructive project on Earth.”

In one study, Oil Change International assessed the effects on the environment of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the refining process  More →

BofA to Quit ALEC?

Last summer, a cousin who is a stockbroker, sent me a link from a group called Social Funds.  (http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3592.html

As I’ve followed the corporate defections from ALEC and Heartland, Walden Management kept coming up in the conversation. I’ve not found a great deal about them that is not in the Social Funds article linked to and shown above.  Hadn’t really given them much thought lately as the exodus of corporations from ALEC and fellow cabal member Heartland had quieted down.

Well, the same folks who organized the large BofA protest at the BofA Shareholder’s Meeting here in Charlotte earlier this year, are apparently looking at keeping up the pressure on BofA and organizing a follow-up protest.  As I was going through my archives to review the process that they used to organize their protest–a very effective process, by the way–I ran across some notes I had that mentioned Walden Management.  Having just heard some rumors during last Saturday’s “Who is Controlling your Politicians” rally about the relationship between Bank of America and ALEC, I decided to look up Walden Management to see if perhaps they knew anything about this.

I spoke with Tim Smith, identified in the Social Funds article as Walden’s “Senior Vice President and Director of ESG Shareholder Engagement for Walden Asset Management, (who had) urged the companies “to examine safeguards and processes in place to ensure that membership in and support for organizations that influence public policy do not undermine” their reputations.

(The letter was signed by 41 investors with approximately $25 billion in assets under management.)

I reached Tim Smith by telephone late this afternoon and asked him about the rumor I had heard,  He confirmed to me that BofA will be leaving ALEC in 2013 “for budgetary reasons”.  Tim told me that he had sent out an e-mail to someone involved in the exposing ALEC movement that he worked with, notifying him/her about Walden’s success with BofA.  (Talk about timing!)  He said he would send me a copy of the e-mail, but I suspect that the 5:00 bell rang before he could do it.

For whatever reason, there is no mention of this anywhere that I can find on the internet, despite his assurance that he had notified people yesterday.  And that is why I am calling this a rumor as I have not seen any written confirmation at this moment–just the word of the person who apparently worked to secure this incredibly great action.

Living in Charlotte, Bank of America is a subject of great interest as it has been the target of numerous protests by a number of different groups, most notably the Pushback Network (Brigid Flaherty), Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupy groups in North Carolina–Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Durham, Raleigh, Carrboro…all the way out to Occupy Wilmington (NC) on the coast.

As Bank of America is of such great interest in Charlotte— and should be of interest to all following the ALEC Insurrection– I thought I would go public with this as a “rumor” until I get written confirmation.

My personal thanks to Tim Smith at Walden Management for his efforts to use the power of their portfolio to communicate with the shareholders of many corporations involved in ALEC and the Heartland Institute. 

As for Social Funds, I’ve got to find out more about their socially responsible investment management,