NYC Comptroller Wants Chevron to Review Environmental Practices

Associated Press
15 December 2007

NEW YORK: The New York City comptroller wants the Chevron Corp. to review its environmental policies, citing several claims from countries around the world that the oil company is polluting natural resources and damaging local communities.

City comptroller William C. Thompson submitted a shareholder resolution Friday on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, which include police, fire, education and city employees. The funds are among the largest shareholders in Chevron, collectively holding 6,676,009 shares valued at $612 million (€421.81 million), Thompson said.

Chevron has been repeatedly accused of practices that have caused environmental damage and harmed the health and welfare of local communities, despite business and ethics codes that aim to keep company staff and community members safe, as well as minimize environmental impacts in countries where the company operates, Thompson said.

The company said it could not comment. "We will respond formally to this and other shareholder resolutions in our proxy statement to shareholders in the new year," it said in a statement.

The San Ramon, California-based company is currently on trial in Ecuador for suspected contamination of Amazon land and water resources in the 1970s. In addition, it has been accused by human rights organizations of polluting land and water resources in its ongoing operations in Nigeria's Niger Delta.

Chevron was fined $609 million (€419.74 million) by Kazakhstan in October for suspected environmental violations by the Chevron-led consortium developing the Tengiz oil field. The company appealed and the fine was reduced by half.

In 2002, the government of Angola fined the company $2 million for pipeline oil spills that polluted beaches and damaged fishing in the African nation.

"Corporations that conduct business in an irresponsible manner by polluting the environment pose significant risks to investors," Thompson said. "It does not make financial sense for Chevron to continue to pay large fines and legal settlements when many of these pitfalls can be avoided by companywide adherence to the highest environmental standards."

The resolution calls on Chevron's board of directors to prepare a report by November 2008 on how the company evaluates whether a host country's laws adequately protect human health, the environment and the company's reputation.

Chevron is the United States' second-largest oil company.