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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Rebel shareholders pressure ChevronTexaco

A group of shareholders pressured ChevronTexaco at its annual meeting today to produce an honest accounting of potential environmental damages should ANWR be opened to oil drilling.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that activist shareholders presented two resolutions at the meeting in San Ramon, Calif.: One asking the company to spend more time and money cleaning up a corner of the Ecuadoran Amazon where Texaco once pumped oil, the other seeking a written report on the environmental damage that could be caused by drilling in sensitive areas, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The company's board, not surprisingly, asked shareholders to reject both requests. And when it came time for the vote, 80 percent towed the company line and rejected the ANWR-related resolution (the Amazon resolution was also rejected). Yet supporters nonetheless took it as a hopeful sign that 7.7 percent of shareholders supported the ANWR resolution.

“No issue has animated our members more than protecting the fragile Arctic Refuge,” said Larry Fahn, president of the Sierra Club, which filed the ANWR-related resolution. The activists had powerful allies on their side, including the immense state pension funds of California and New York. “I am pleased that so many ChevronTexaco shareholders recognize that good environmental decisions make good economic sense."

ChevronTexaco and BP drilled an exploratory well in ANWR 20 years ago and would likely be first at the table to begin tapping oil in the refuge if drilling is approved in Congress.

For supporters, the resolutions are a way to focus the company's attention on environmental concerns they believe have been swept aside in the search for oil.

"It just raises the urgency of the issue inside the corporation," Shelley Alpern, vice president of Trillium Asset Management, told the Chronicle. The firm, one of many specializing in socially conscious investing, submitted the resolution on Ecuador.

Here's a link to the full text of the ANWR resolution: Link.

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