Pages tagged "shareholder"


Coal is Poisoning the Cape Fear River

This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change

My name is Kemp Burdette. I am the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. I was born and raised along the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina.

I want to describe to you the impacts that coal is having on the Cape Fear River, because Bank of America's financing of the coal industry, and specifically Duke Energy, is supporting the contamination of groundwater, the fouling of rivers, and the poisoning of drinking water supplies for nearly a million people in the Cape Fear watershed alone. Across North Carolina, the problem is even worse.

CapeFear_720x720I’m sure you've heard about the Dan River coal ash spill.

You may not have heard about Duke's other discharge of coal ash waste water into the Cape Fear River. Less than two months ago Duke was caught illegally pumping over 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River—three times more wastewater than what spilled into the Dan River.

This was done above the drinking water intakes for 840,000 people, and it was done intentionally, although secretly and illegally, with no notification of the public or of state regulators.

In addition to catastrophic failures and illegal discharges, Duke's coal ash ponds have other problems—they leak like sieves into groundwater and surface waters. They leak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at every location across North Carolina.

In New Hanover County, selenium contamination from coal ash is deforming fish in a popular fishing lake.

Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina are currently under a federal investigation for inappropriate conduct and relations between state regulators and the company.

I would urge Bank of America to end its lending and underwriting of companies like Duke Energy. Duke's coal ash ponds will continue to fail. They will continue to leak. They will continue to poison water supplies. They will continue to destroy the environment. Coal is, and will continue to be, very, very risky business.

Stand with Kemp and RAN by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change


Reportback: Divestmentment Students Pay Brian Moynihan a Visit

divestThis is a guest blog by students Camila Bustos (Brown University) and Alli Welton (Harvard University).

Earlier this month, we traveled from our universities in New England down to Charlotte, NC to attend Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting with Rainforest Action Network. At the end of the school year, the trip meant skipping exams and ignoring final paper deadlines that would come back to bite us later--but we knew it was worth it. The meeting gave us the opportunity to look straight into the eyes of a person who has the power to cripple the coal industry: Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan--and ask him to help us.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Moynihan prided himself on the Bank’s $50 billion commitment to the environment. Later on that morning, however, we witnessed Mr. Moynihan dodge question after question regarding the Bank’s role as the number one lender to the coal industry.

Frontline community members spoke up with devastating stories about the cancers their community had struggled with in the shadow of coal-fired power plants, the threats to their homes and drinking water posed by new strip mines and coal export terminals. Religious leaders reminded Moynihan of his moral conscience and his responsibility to other inhabitants of this earth. Many speakers pointed out the contradiction between Bank of America’s environmental commitment and its coal financing policies. Other shareholders at the meeting heard our voices, and began mentioning climate change within their own questions about other topics such as the Bank’s foreclosure practices, executive pay, or campaign contribution disclosures. Mr. Moynihan was clearly uncomfortable when faced with the people directly impacted by his Bank’s support of the coal industry, but he dismissed most of their questions.

At the end of the meeting, it was our turn to speak. We could tell that, by this point, Mr. Moynihan had heard enough about climate change. We brought a message with us, however, that he had not heard:

“Students are tremendously concerned about climate change, and we do NOT want to work for companies like Bank of America if they are funding our destruction. We and students at 80 other colleges and universities have pledged to disrupt your recruitment sessions on our campuses until you commit to phasing out your loans to the coal industry.”

Finally, we had caught Bank of America’s attention. The moment we announced the pledges, Board members spun around in their chairs to stare at us. They heard how our generation will not stand in silence as the massive burden of climate change continues to fall on our backs. They heard how we are mobilizing to fight back, running fossil fuel divestment campaigns on hundreds of campuses across the country. They heard that we are standing in solidarity with the frontline communities whose homes and lives have already been threatened by the coal industry, and that we will be standing in Bank of America’s way if they come to our campuses next fall to recruit new employees whose work would continue aggravating the climate crisis.

Mr. Moynihan responded quickly to our questions. “We have already successfully recruited at your school,” he said, and repeated his talking point about the Bank’s $50 billion commitment to the environment. We had already seen, though, that the Board was visibly disconcerted by the pledge.

We know that we have found a pressure point, and we are prepared to leverage our power over the Bank next fall. We call on other students across the country to join us by signing the pledge and making it clear to Bank of America that, if they expect us to join their workforce and to provide them with business in the future, they need to do a better job of addressing our generation’s concerns about climate change and the human rights abuses perpetuated by the coal industry.


It's Bank of America's Annual Shareholder Meeting: Time to Voice Discontent

I know you care—in the past couple months, you’ve already taken multiple online actions to urge Bank of America to stop funding the coal industry. And as you are reading this, I am outside the Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a group of 30 people who have been negatively impacted by coal. These friends have traveled thousands of miles—from California to India—to speak face-to-face with Bank of America decision makers. They are demanding an end to the havoc that Bank of America and the coal industry have wreaked on our lives. These brave people include Barbara Gottlieb from Physicians for Social Responsibility, who researches how coal causes respiratory diseases; Lorelei Scarbro, who comes from a family of coal miners and had mountains blown up in her West Virginian backyard for tiny seams of coal; and Ashish Fernandes from India—where coal was a false promise for a poor country to get rich but instead destroyed the health of thousands of innocent people. Today, we need your help to deliver an additional blow to Bank of America: to call in and demand that it is time to stop funding King Coal. With hundreds—even thousands—of us calling in, this will disrupt operations on the day of the bank’s biggest public facing event all year.   ** We've updated the phone number below, after Bank of America disconnected the first one.  Keep up the pressure! ** Will you help us prove to Bank of America that these people are not alone? Call the office of Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan. Here’s his number: (866) 826 - 8989 Leading up to today, shareholders and bank executives have felt the crescendo of our grassroots organizing in Charlotte. We have disseminated the message that Bank of America is the leading funder of coal and so clearly doesn’t care about its impact on climate change with several creative tactics. We’ve greeted bank shareholders the minute they landed at the Charlotte airport, plastered ads all over downtown Charlotte and the perimeter of the bank’s headquarters, flyered every hotel door where shareholders are staying; and, today—our activists are accompanied by a 20x12 ft mobile billboard parked outside of the shareholder meeting as they march in. Bank of America knows we’re here. Let them know you’re here, as well. Since today is such a ripe opportunity because of this public-facing moment, we need to pick up the phone and call. Please take a few minutes today to call Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and let him know that Bank of America needs to stop funding coal. Here’s how:  
1. Call (866) 826 - 8989 2. If someone answers the phone, ask to speak to Brian Moynihan (it’s highly unlikely they will put you through). Whether your call is answered by voicemail or a real person, be polite and respectful, but above all make sure you state how seriously you’re taking Bank of America's decision to keep funding the declining industry of coal. Here’s a sample call script:
Hello, my name is ____{name}____ and I'm calling today to tell Brian Moynihan that Bank of America cannot be #1 in addressing climate change when it is the #1 funder of coal. I am deeply disturbed by how this decision is affecting the quality of our lives and future. I demand that Bank of America stop pumping billions of dollars into the coal industry. Thank you for your time.
3. After you call, click the button below to report how it went. It’s important we get an accurate count of how many folks made a call, and what Bank of America's response is.  
It’s time Bank of America is held accountable as the #1 funder of the U.S. coal industry—the bank is responsible for funding the decimation of purple mountains majesty via mountaintop coal mining (MTR); underwriting coal mines that have caused irreversible black lung to working class miners; and financially supporting contaminated, undrinkable water in once pristine streams. No financial institution should have this much power over our communities and our future. Trust me, our mighty crew here in Charlotte will feel the amplified power of every phone call you make. Thank you in advance for standing up with us today. Together, we can be heard—because there are more of us than them.

Investors Don’t Want To Go To Hell With Chevron

[caption id="attachment_13652" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Humberto Piaguaje, a leader of the Secoya tribe in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, addresses the crowd outside Chevron's shareholder meeting. Click image to see more pics from the protest."]Humberto at CVX AGM 2011[/caption] The fallout from Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting continues. In addition to the protesters outside the meeting, Chevron found itself “under siege” inside the meeting as well, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In fact, it faced something of a shareholder insurrection, as major investors (who collectively manage over $160 billion in assets) accused Chevron management of exercising “poor judgment” and called on the company to rethink its endless litigation strategy in Ecuador. Chevron, in typically cavalier fashion, dismissed these shareholder concerns. But Sanford Lewis, a lawyer for Trillium Asset Management, one of the institutional investors that signed a letter calling on Chevron’s management to finally settle the Ecuador lawsuit and clean up the Amazon, fired back with a great question Chevron doesn’t seem to have considered:
Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson dismissed the shareholder pressure in an email, saying the company would fight the "fraudulent" award, not settle it. In 2009, a different company spokesman, Donald Campbell, outlined the oil giant's legal strategy: "We're going to fight this until hell freezes over. And then we'll fight it out on the ice." Trillium's lawyer Sanford Lewis told Courthouse News that this sort of talk makes shareholders uneasy. "Do they want to go to hell with Chevron?" Lewis asked.
It would seem that Chevron shareholders most certainly do not want to go to hell with the company. New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli serves as trustee for the $140 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which also signed the letter calling on Chevron to settle with the Ecuadoreans, and he has said: “It’s time for Chevron to face reality. The effects of this horrific, uncontrolled pollution of the Amazon rainforest are still being felt today. Investors don’t derive any benefit from this never-ending courtroom drama.” Chevron has been anything but forthcoming with its shareholders about the liability it is facing in Ecuador, where the company has been found guilty of massively polluting the Amazon and ordered to pay $18 billion to clean up its mess. The lack of full disclosure has prompted Trillium to file a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asking for an investigation into whether Chevron has “appropriately disclosed to its shareholders the scope and magnitude of financial and operational risk” from the guilty verdict in Ecuador. Thirty-thousand Ecuadoreans are demanding justice in the Amazon. Americans are standing with them. Even Chevron’s shareholders want the company to do the right thing and clean up the Ecuadorean Amazon. It must be getting increasingly lonely at the top of Chevron.

As Protesters Gather Outside Chevron Shareholder Meeting, Investors Call On Company To Rethink Ecuador Strategy

[caption id="attachment_13436" align="alignleft" width="306" caption="Click to download the 2011 True Cost of Chevron report"]True Cost of Chevron report 2011 cover[/caption] RAN activists are joining a huge protest outside of Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting this morning to demand the company take responsibility for its pollution in communities around the globe. Representatives from Angola, Ecuador, Nigeria, Indonesia, Canada, Alaska, and Texas, as well as from right here in California and several other places impacted by the company’s business operations, will be outside and inside the meeting to demand justice from Chevron. The third annual True Cost of Chevron alternative annual report came out yesterday to expose the grim reality of Chevron's business operations: "Chevron continues its long history of ravaging natural environments, violating human rights, ignoring the longstanding decisions of Indigenous communities, destroying traditional livelihoods, and converting its dollars into unjust political influence in the United States and around the world." But it’s not just activists and people living with Chevron's pollution that are calling on the company to take responsibility for the environmental degradation and human rights violations that are business as usual for Chevron. Trillium Asset Management circulated an investor statement calling on the company to rethink its endless litigation strategy in regards to the Ecuador environmental lawsuit. Chevron was found guilty of dumping 18.5 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon, but refuses to pay to clean it up. Investors who manage some $165 billion worth of assets have signed on to the investor statement, which notes:
In failing to negotiate a reasonable settlement prior to the Ecuadorian court’s ruling against the company, we believe that Chevron displayed poor judgment that has led investors to question whether our Company’s leadership can properly manage the array of environmental challenges and risks that it faces. We call upon Chevron to fully disclose to shareholders the risks to its operations and business from the potential enforcement of the Aguinda verdict. We also call upon the Company to reevaluate whether endless litigation in the Aguinda case is the best strategy for the Company and its shareholders, or whether a more productive approach, such as reaching an equitable negotiated settlement, could be employed to protect shareholder investments and prevent any further reputational harm due to protracted litigation.
Trillium has also filed a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Chevron has "appropriately disclosed to its shareholders the scope and magnitude of financial and operational risk" from the guilty verdict in Ecuador. And, as the Guardian reported today, the New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a shareholder resolution that would require Chevron to appoint an independent board member with environmental expertise. Pat Doherty, the director of corporate governance at the New York State office of the comptroller, told the Guardian: "The fact that Chevron didn't have someone with this expertise on the board probably helped contribute to the problem. We're suggesting that Chevron's take no prisoner approach has arguably also made things worse." RAN teamed up with Amazon Watch a couple weeks ago to commission a report on Chevron's liability in Ecuador that highlights the discrepancy between what Chevron’s lawyers have been arguing in court and what the company has been telling investors. US Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan passed a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Ecuador verdict after Chevron’s lawyers told him the company faces “irreparable injury” to its business operations if the verdict were to be enforced, while assuring investors that it faces no risk whatsoever. It’s way past time Chevron was honest with its shareholders and took responsibility for its pollution in Ecuador and around the globe. Today’s protest is sure to be a lively and colorful affair. Stay tuned for pics and video.

RBC - Get out of the Tar Sands!!! Pt. 2

Update - just in from Mark in Toronto (with pictures):
We had a great protest this morning in Toronto at the Royal Bank headquarters. Fifteen activists greeted RBC employees on their way to work for an hour and a half. We had a banner that read "RBC creates climate chaos. Renewables not tar sands."  As well as a half dozen placards with the bank's logo and messages like "Create climate change-one bank account at a time." and "RBC creates poisoned water in your community"
This morning was exciting, fun and very cold here in Vancouver. While Brant, Melina and Lionel were inside speaking with shareholders and bank executives Margaret Swink and myself along with over a dozen dedicated & concerned local BC residents came to show their support and solidarity in the early hours of cool Thursday morning. The morning started off with an air of excitement as our wonderful group took to the streets and sidewalks outside of the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Center to bring the messages being brought forward inside to the outside.    We greeted eager shareholders and passerby's with informational brochures detailing RBC's dirty deeds in the Tar Sands which contribute to the adverse effects presented by both Lionel and Melina inside. [caption id="attachment_2359" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Outside of the Vancouver Convention Center during the RBC AGM"]Outside of the Vancouver Convention Center during the RBC AGM[/caption] We were blessed to have RBC's new mascot "Arbie"(on the far right in photo ) join us, although he seemed to be a little down on his luck and tarnished with what appeared to be his dirty investments.  He seemed a little lost and followed us around, assumingly mistaking us for RBC shareholders and executives.  If I was to take a guess I might assume that he was a little bit drunk, perhaps on the dirty oil that RBC is financing. The group of us (Arbie in tow) marched around the convention center chanting "Finance the Future, Not Fossil Fuels", "RBC out of the Tar Sands!!" and "Climate Friendly Bankers Don't Fund Tankers!" and through the main lobby of the building using our loudest voices so the shareholders and executives alike could hear our beautiful voices and words.  Not surprising, we found ourselves being politely asked to leave the premises at which point we agreebly took back to the streets where we were met with questions, media and on-lookers.  We stayed the course until our fingers and toes were cold and sore and we took shelter in a nearby coffee shop anxiously awaiting word on how things went inside. It was fantastic to see that media from the Vancouver Sun and APTN came out and took both photos and video coverage of the events outside to help us commenorate this grande occassion. Thanks so much to all of those that came out and endured the cold weather and helped us tell RBC - GET OUT OF THE TAR SANDS!!!!

RBC - Get out of the Tar Sands!!!

RBC is Canada's largest bank and a premier sponsor of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They're also Canada's largest financier of the Alberta Tar Sands - one of the most environmentally destructive projects on earth. Today in Vancouver was RBC's annual general meeting for shareholders, the one time when the officers of the company are obliged to meet shareholders face-to-face and to answer questions about their activities. We were there to meet 'em on both coasts. We sent three reps into the meeting. Our own Brant Olson, the director of our Clean-up RBC Campaign and two awesome activists from First Nations communities that are being directly affected by the tar sands developments. Below are written versions of the statements they gave in front of shareholders. Statement of Brant Olson, Rainforest Action Network

My name is Brant Olson.  I am a recent RBC shareholder and am also here today representing Rainforest Action Network.  RAN has been meeting with RBC for more than four years on various environmental performance issues, and I want to start by recognizing the progress that our collaboration with RBC has achieved.

The carbon offsets announced at the beginning of Mr. O’Brian’s remarks are just one example of how we have seen RBC move to adopt more environmentally responsible practices.  Another significant development worth noting is RBC’s progress toward adopting a more responsible paper purchasing policy including reducing paper use while the use of paper certified to the high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council. Finally, RBC’s recently announced Blue Water Project demonstrates that the bank is taking seriously its commitment to environmental philanthropy.

But the case we have made to RBC staff, and that we will make again today, is that these initiatives are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the power and influence of the bank to shape global markets toward ecological and social accountability.

I must also thank RBC staff for the openness and spirit of healthy dialogue that I have seen consistently demonstrated by the bank. I thank you for your willingness to allow us to distribute literature prior to the meeting that many in the room have now seen. The relationship we have built with RBC staff during our four-year dialogue has also benefited from a high level of transparency and openness. In my personal experience, and in the experience of others in my organization Sandra Odendal and Shari Austin have shown a commendable capacity for frank and honest dialogue.

It is in this spirit of openness that we ask you to consider the lessons of the current economic downturn in the context of current social and ecological challenges currently facing RBC.

Our view is that the same short-sighted, myopic business strategies that caused the current crisis in global financial markets are producing a parallel crisis in social and ecological terms. When banks chase short term profits, they risk overreaching the long range carrying capacity of the planet. Today, you'll hear two examples of how RBC is doing just that.

First is Lionel Lepine from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, a Northern Alberta community downstream from Tarsands projects financed by RBC that a Health Alberta study recently showed to be experiencing elevated levels of cancer.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is from the Lubicon Lake First Nation—a Northern Alberta community fighting development of a tarsands pipeline financed by RBC.

I appreciated your comments, Mr. Nixon, about finding solutions, and that’s what we’re promoting today.  We’re asking RBC to meet and beat the best practices set by your competitors.

First, we’re asking RBC to follow the lead of Toronto Dominon bank by adopting a policy that recognizes the rights of indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent  to industrial projects affecting their traditional territory.

Second, we ask that RBC adopt a policy related to financing in the tar sands now in place at Dexia Bank—a bank with which RBC currently has a significant joint venture.  This includes performance based due diligence procedures that would phase out client relationships with tar sands operators that are unable or unwilling to reverse adverse impacts on water quality and regional ecology.

Third, we’re asking RBC to take a leadership role on fighting climate change by committing to measure and reduce its financed emissions over time.  Accounting for CO2 embedded in RBC’s client portfolio and reducing the bank’s exposure to these emissions over time would go a long way toward preparing the bank for the inherent risks related to current and future demands posed by a changing climate.

Thank you.

Statement of Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Lubicon Cree First Nation. Dear fellow shareholders, I come from a community where the very issue of having access to water is an issue. To this day, my community still does not having running water.  From my community’s traditional territory, 13 billion dollars have been made in profit despite the fact that my community of Lubicon Lake receives no compensation or royalties. Instead what we have received is contaminated water in nearby lakes, higher rates of cancer and still to this day no running water. With RBC’s declaration of supporting a ‘Blue Water initiative’ as a way to help safe guard water and its claims to support communities in raising awareness towards issues regarding water. I pose the question: where will this support be seen in my community? The very projects that RBC has financed have been responsible for contaminating our lakes and rivers. With RBC’s claim to reduce your environmental footprint and promote environmentally responsible activities, it is hard for me to understand why then would RBC finance such destructive projects such as the tar sands as well as the building of the North Central Corridor pipeline that is will extend into our territory again in a intrusive path towards to tar sands. In regards to conventional oil and logging taking place on our traditional territory, we are facing the onset of a new development by TransCanada pipeline called the North Corridor Pipeline, which is partially being financed by RBC. The United Nations has condemned the treatment of my family and community on four different occasions. Now, not only is the government not respecting existing treaty rights in Alberta for communities that are in the dealing of tar sands development, but the financing of RBC in the construction of the NCC pipeline directly infringes upon our inherent rights as Indigenous peoples. This pipeline is set to cross through the traditional territory of my family and community which will continue to wreak havoc on the land and displace even more wildlife. We already have logging and conventional oil exploitation taking place on our territory, how much more can the land or our people handle? The UN Human Rights commission as well as many national and international organizations have already condemned the situation in my community, this is just another statement that there are definite and valid concerns that need to be addressed in my community and it is up to RBC and fellow investors to really question the types of projects they put their shareholders’ money into. Statement of Lionel Lepine, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation: My name is Lionel Lepine and I am a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. I live downstream from what has been dubbed as the most destructive project on the planet in a town called Fort Chipewyan. The elders from my community have shared knowledge with me in terms of the destruction to the environment from the developments happening south of us. They saw the changes in the last 30-40 years and it is only now being recognized. With RBC financing the tar sand industry, they are really financing the death of our land, air, water, our traditional way of life and also assisting in cultural genocide. There have been numerous reports released acknowledging the fact that our water has been contaminated with cancer causing agents. Water, being the life line of this planet, is crucial to us to sustain our traditional way of living. My friend, 28 years old, hunted, fished, and trapped on our traditional territory and also worked at one of the tar sand plants. He was later diagnosed with a cancer that ultimately took his life. Cancer has since become a normal topic of discussion in our town; not so long ago, it was rare to hear of anyone having cancer or any other unexplained sicknesses. Today I wonder how many more of my friends, that are my age, I will be bringing back home in a casket that I believe shouldn’t be there at all. Our children are now aware of the problem that exists in our community. This past January, a group of kids aged 10-12 took matters into their own hands and did a march down the streets of Fort Chipewyan in -32c weather on a Friday afternoon after school. During this march the children chanted “enough is enough, enough is enough” “stop the pollution, stop the pollution” over and over until they got to their destination. Our children know, unwillingly, that this is a slow form of assassination amongst our people and this has to stop. I would like to invite Gordon Nixon to come to Fort Chipewyan and visit the people who live there. He will see the faces of the people suffering and the ones still alive today with cancer. Then he should reconsider financing the tar sand industry and start looking at alternative resources instead of relying on fossil fuels. As far as I’m concerned, the day for fossil fuel reliance is over. Thanks.

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