Chevron – Environmental Oversight (2010)
Environmental expertise is critical to the success of companies in the energy industry because of the significant environmental issues associated with their operations. Shareholders, lenders, host country governments and regulators, and affected communities are focused on these impacts. A company’s inability to demonstrate that its environmental policies and practices are in line with internationally accepted standards can lead to difficulties in raising new capital and obtaining the necessary licences from regulators.
Chevron has repeatedly been cited for allegedly harmful environmental practices:
- Chevron is on trial in Ecuador for widespread contamination of Amazonian land and water resources by Texaco in the 1970s. Plaintiffs suing Chevron are challenging the adequacy of a remediation effort completed in 1998. A court-appointed expert in the Ecuadorian litigation has recommended that Chevron could be held liable for up to $27.3 billion in damages.
- Chevron is accused of polluting land and water resources by its Niger Delta operations, and damaging the local fishing economy through dredging of waterways. These practices have fueled civil unrest, protests, and a related lawsuit alleging Chevron’s complicity in security forces’ killing of two protestors.
- Chevron faces allegations of environmental and health damages to local communities from its operations in Kazakhstan. In 2007, a consortium in which Chevron has a 50% interest was fined approximately $609 million for illegally storing sulphur.
We believe that these controversies have the potential to damage shareholder value and that the company must respond to
Chevron does not currently have an independent director with environmental expertise. We believe it would benefit the company to address the environmental impact of its business at the most strategic level – by appointing a specialist to the board. An authoritative figure with acknowledged environmental expertise and standing could perform a valuable and strategic role for the company by enabling Chevron to more effectively address the environmental issues inherent in its business. It would also help ensure that the highest levels of attention focus on the development of environmental standards for new projects. Such a board role would strengthen the company’s ability to demonstrate the seriousness with which it is addressing environmental issues.
Shareholders request that, as the terms in office of elected board directors expire, at least one candidate be recommended who:
- has a high level of expertise and experience in environmental matters relevant to hydrocarbon exploration and production and is widely recognized in the business and environmental communities as an authority in such field, in each case as reasonably determined by the company’s board, and
- will qualify, subject to limited exceptions in extraordinary circumstances explicitly specified by the board, as an independent director under standards applicable to the company as an NYSE listed company,
in order that the board includes at least one director satisfying the foregoing criteria, which director shall have designated responsibility on the board for environmental matters.