Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)
As You Sow's Hydraulic Fracturing initiative focuses on reducing the financial, environmental, and community impacts of producing natural gas, including the use of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), a controversial method of drilling for natural gas.
In 2013, investors asked Exxon Mobil and Chevron, two of the largest players in the natural gas industry, to report to shareholders, using quantitative data, the results of company practices to reduce harm to the public and the environment from their fracking operations. The requested data would include:
As You Sow is also supporting individual and institutional investors interested in divesting from fossil fuel-based energy and re-investing in carbon-free energies. We provide resources for these investors including research on the risks of fossil fuel-based energy such as coal, documentation that carbon divestment poses minimal portfolio risk, and tools for re-investing carbon-free.
Our 2013 resolution with Exxon Mobil requested a report, using qualitative indicators, on the results of company procedures and practices to minimize any adverse environmental and community impacts from the company's natural gas extraction operations. The resolution received support from 30.2% of investors.
This resolution was co-filed with City Comptroller John C. Liu and the New York City Pension Funds. Read our joint press statement or our memo to Exxon shareholders explaining the rationale for supporting this resolution.
Our 2012 resolution, on the effects of community opposition and known regulatory impacts, received support from 29.6% of investors.
Our 2013 resolution with Chevron requests a report, using qualitative indicators, on the results of company procedures and practices to minimize any adverse environmental and community impacts from the company's natural gas extraction operations.
Our 2012 resolution, on the effects of community opposition and known regulatory impacts, received support from 27% of investors.
As You Sow began filing shareholder resolutions and engaging with companies about their use of hydraulic fracturing in 2010. Among the risks facing companies involved in fracking operations are:
The use of hydraulic fracturing has changed dramatically since its introduction 60 years ago, and according to industry it is now used in about 90% of operational natural gas wells today. Hydraulic fracturing is a process of injecting a mixture of water, chemicals, and particles underground at high pressure to create fractures in the ground through which gas flows for collection.
While natural gas development is generally viewed as a preferred energy option to coal or oil, and as a source of jobs and economic development to rural communities; investors, regulators and communities are growing increasingly concerned about the environmental and health impacts of this process.
In addition to air pollution and land issues associated with hydraulic fracturing, the impacts to water are raising substantial scientific, political, and public concern and opposition. Hydraulic fracturing fluids are known to include toxic and carcinogenic chemicals:
Further clouding the issue, the EPA, which regulates chemicals used in underground injection under the Safe Drinking Water Act, had its authority to monitor hydraulic fracturing stripped by the 2005 Energy Policy Act to protect natural gas companies from having to comply with national water protection standards. This legislation was shepherded through Congress by former Vice President Dick Cheney, a former CEO of Halliburton - the company which pioneered hydraulic fracturing and one of the leaders in this field.
Read more about As You Sow's resolutions below.
At 2012 annual meetings, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Ultra Petroleum shareholders continued to show strong support for the resolution, voting 30%, 27%, and 35% in favor, respectively.
This is the third consecutive year that votes on the risks of hydraulic fracturing have averaged over 30%.
As You Sow and a coalition of concerned investors contacted 20 companies and filed 12 resolutions, of which 6 went to a vote. Our coalition received excellent votes for these first year resolutions ranging from 21-42%.
ExxonMobil and Ultra Petroleum
The extraordinary support by investors for these resolutions demonstrates that mainstream investors are aware of and concerned about these issues.
Watch Democracy Now!'s coverage of the successful 2011 shareholder votes.
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