What the Frack! Investor Coalition Seeks Environmental Impact Disclosures from Oil and Gas Companies
By James Griffitts, Contributor
An investors coalition representing members of the Investor Environmental Health Network, including Green Century Capital Management, As You Sow, Mercy Investment Services, Calvert Investments, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia has filed shareholder proposals at six large oil and gas companies which engage in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).
Many investors are dissatisfied with an industry wide-failure to disclose the impacts of fracking. The targeted companies include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, WPX Energy, QEP Resources, SM Energy, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation; all face criticism for failing to disclose the extent of their efforts to address the repercussions of fracking operations.Investors argue that without disclosing environmental impact of fracking, oil and gas companies make it impossible to accurately assess company performance in managing the impacts and the risks. Chesapeake Energy has already faced millions of dollars in fines for violating the Clean Water Act.
With the exception of SM Energy, all of these companies were scored recently by investors based on their disclosed efforts to address the environmental impact of fracking—with all five failing. With falling renewable energy prices and increasing public backlash against fracking, these companies may find themselves left out in the cold by investors if their concerns are not addressed.
The Investor Environmental Health Network, with support from member organizations, including First Affirmative Financial Network, continues to press oil and gas companies to set quantitative and verifiable goals toward reducing the negative environmental impacts of fracking.
Despite the size of these organizations and the massive income at their disposal, shareholder pressure can alter the behavior of such companies, as evidenced by the recent move by BP and Shell to back a shareholder resolution aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Despite being pressed for five years running by investors, oil and gas companies continue to disclose inadequate information concerning efforts to alleviate environmental damage, while concerns over contamination of ground water and pollution continue to mount. As these companies face criticism for water usage in drought stricken areas, air and water pollution, and inadequate management of toxic chemicals, investors continue to fight for increased transparency and regulation of fracking operations.
At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?
Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered an endorsement or a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Posted: March 16, 2015