May 15, 2006 – Last week, shareholders controlling an overwhelming majority of ConocoPhillips stock rejected the very idea of asking the companyâ€™s board of directors to prepare a report on potential environmental damage related to drilling in a protected Alaskan wilderness area.
- ChevronTexaco Shareholders Reject Eco-Friendly Proposals (Apr 29, 2005)
The proposal was put forth by the US Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG), a liberal environmental- and consumer-protection organization, on behalf of shareholder Green Century Capital Management, which administers what it calls "environmentally friendly mutual funds."
The proposal appealed to shareholdersâ€™ sense of corporate responsibility and concern for the companyâ€™s image. It urged them to live up to ConocoPhillips literature, which boasts support for a handful of conservation-oriented programs focused on protecting birds.
The focus of the shareholder resolution is several hundred thousand acres on the Alaska North Slope that are currently off limits to oil exploitation. The area is home to critical migratory-bird habitat.
"Pledging not to drill sensitive ecosystems will enhance our company's image and reputation with consumers, elected officials, current and potential employees, and investors," reads the resolution.
But the proposal stopped short of calling for such a pledge. Instead, all it asked is that board members commission a study by 2007 on the issue of drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, and that the report "consider the implications of a policy of refraining from drilling in such areas."
Despite the defeat of even such a tepid proposal by a three-to-one margin, US PIRG and Green Century Capital Management issued a celebratory statement.
"This is a landmark day for Teshekpuk Lake and for all threatened ecosystems around the world," said Andrew Shalit of Green Century. "More than one quarter of the shareholders of an oil company have said, â€˜Sometimes you shouldn't drill. You have to consider the environmental cost.â€™ We hope ConocoPhillips and other oil companies will take that message to heart and develop policies to protect the world's most sensitive ecosystems."