ConocoPhillips – Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (2004 – 2005)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
WHEREAS: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the only conservation area in the nation that provides a complete range of Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems balanced with a wide variety of wildlife, including large populations of caribou, muskoxen, polar bears, and snow geese;
WHEREAS: the Fish and Wildlife Service considers the Arctic Refuge one of the finest examples of wilderness left on the planet;
WHEREAS: the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is the only section of Alaska’s North Slope not open for oil and gas leasing, exploration and production; and
RESOLVED: The Shareholders request that Board of Directors prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on the potential environmental damage that would result from drilling for oil and gas in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The report should examine the financial costs and expected return from drilling in the Arctic Refuge, as well as the possible impacts to our company’s value from such an action.
“Ninety-five percent of Alaska’s most promising oil-bearing lands are already open for development, but it is imperative that we continue to protect the wildlife, fish and wilderness that make up the rest of this invaluable part of our American heritage.” — President Jimmy Carter (1995)
Once part of the largest intact wilderness area in the United States, Alaska’s North Slope now hosts one of the world’s largest industrial complexes. More than 1500 miles of roads and pipelines and thousands of acres of industrial facilities sprawl over some 400 square miles of once pristine arctic tundra. Oil operations on the North Slope annually emit roughly 43,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 100,000 metric tons of methane, emissions that contribute to smog, acid rain, and global warming.
The coastal plain is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge, to which the vast Porcupine River Caribou herd migrates each spring to give birth and raise its young. The Department of Interior concluded that development in the coastal plain would result in major adverse impacts to the caribou, damaging or displacing up to forty percent of the herd. The coastal plain also serves as crucial habitat for muskoxen, polar bears, and at least 135 bird species that gather there for breeding, nesting and migratory activities.
Drilling would also harm the Gwich’in, Indians who have lived near the Arctic Refuge for thousands of years. The Gwich’in, which means “people of the caribou,” depend on the caribou for food, clothing and as a link to their traditional way of life.
Balanced against these priceless resources is the negligible potential for economic gain. At a price of $15-$16 a barrel, the estimated price at which ConocoPhillips evaluates upstream projects, combined with our Company’s goal of a 12 percent return on investment, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is no economically recoverable oil in the Arctic Refuge.
Vote YES for this proposal, which will improve our Company’s reputation as a leader in environmentally responsible energy recovery.