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February 10, 2012
Shareowners Continue Campaign for Disclosure of Risks Associated with Fracking
    by Robert Kropp

Ten shareowner resolutions addressing hydraulic fracturing have been filed thus far for the 2012 proxy season, and proponents for improved disclosure look to improve upon last year's 40% vote in support.


When Richard Liroff, executive director of the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), talked with SocialFunds.com in December about the success of shareowner resolutions addressing hydraulic fracturing, he said, "We struck a nerve."

The occasion for our talk was the publication by IEHN and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) of an Investor Guide to help increase corporate disclosure and mitigate the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) included in the Guide address such issues as board level transparency and disclosure of all chemicals used in the process, mitigation of environmental impacts, compliance throughout the supply chain, and securing the consent of all key stakeholders in communities.

The ten oil and gas companies already facing shareowner resolutions addressing the controversial practice this year would do well to consult the Guide. Although the first resolutions on fracking were introduced in 2009, by the next year they were already receiving an average 40% of shareowner support.

Shareowners filing this year's resolutions include Green Century Capital Management, As You Sow, IEHN, and members of ICCR. Companies targeted by the resolutions include Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Chesapeake Energy.

Referring to "high profile contamination incidents," as well as widespread moratoriums on fracking, the reso lution filed with Exxon Mobil by As You Sow states, "Proponents believe these potential environmental impacts and increasing regulatory scrutiny could pose threats to Exxon Mobil's license to operate and enhance vulnerability to litigation." The resolution requests that Exxon Mobil report on the environmental impacts of its fracking operations, and adopt policies that go "above and beyond regulatory requirements and our company's existing efforts."

ICCR members have focused on community impacts in their resolutions. As Pat Zerega, director of shareholder advocacy at Mercy Investment Services said, "This year nearly all the resolutions on fracking cite community impact which stems directly from our members' experience in towns where fracking occurs."

The resolution filed with Chevron, for instance, states, "Negative local impacts are straining community resources and generating opposition to fracturing operations." Shareowners request that the company report on risks "associated with community concerns, known regulatory impacts, moratoriums, and public opposition to hydraulic fracturing."

"Bans and moratoria are denials of companies' social license to operate and impose a wide range of costs on companies, ranging from the costs of delays to complete loss of access to valuable resources where sunk costs must be written off," Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Green Century, said. "Right now, companies are not providing investors, or the communities in which the companies operate, sufficient information on the steps they are taking to address and mitigate the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing operations so shareholders are demanding increased transparency."

 

 
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