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Dominion climate and energy public policy review

Whereas:  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific authority on climate change, in their 2013 report confirm warming of the climate is unequivocal and human influence is the dominant cause. Recent extreme weather events have caused significant loss of life and billions of dollars of damage.
 
The IPCC estimates that a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions globally is needed by 2050 (from 1990 levels) to stabilize global temperatures, entailing a U.S. target reduction of 80%. 
 
Urgent action is needed to achieve the required emissions reduction. Federal, state and local government must enact and enforce strong legislation and regulations to mitigate and adapt to climate change, reduce use of fossil fuels and move us to a renewable energy future.
 
Accordingly, companies in the energy sector should review and update their public policy positions related to climate change.
 
The public perception is that business often opposes laws and regulations addressing climate change or renewable energy.  In 2009, when Congress debated comprehensive climate change legislation, oil, gas and electric utilities spent more than $300 million on lobbying.  (Opensecrets.org)
 
Investors are increasingly concerned about how companies lobby at the federal, state and local levels. A high level of transparency helps ensure lobbying activities are consistent with stated corporate policies and values, thereby reducing reputational risk that could potentially alienate consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. For example, investors question company public policy advocacy through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which often obstructs progress on climate-related legislation.
 
Investors have asked hundreds of companies to disclose their political spending and lobbying policies and over 125 S&P 500 companies now make such disclosures.    Although Dominion displays information about political contributions on its web site, full board oversight is not displayed of the more than $1.3M in annual political lobbying revealed there and at OpenSecrets.org.  The concern is that Dominion may be targeting funds to direct policy and regulation that could benefit Dominion in the extremely near-term future (< 1 year), but that will be harmful to Dominion, its shareholders, and its financial future in the long-term.
 
Over 500 forward-looking businesses such as General Motors, Microsoft, Nike and Unilever, signed the Climate Declaration supporting the need for legislation, stating, “Tackling Climate Change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century.“
 
Resolved: Shareholders request that independent Board members commission a comprehensive review of Dominion Resources’ positions, oversight and processes related to public policy advocacy on energy policy and climate change.  Shareholders also request the company to prepare (at reasonable cost and omitting confidential information) and make available by December 2014 a report describing the completed review.
 
Supporting Statement:
 
We recommend that this review include: 
 
  • Whether current Dominion positions on climate legislation and regulation are consistent with the reductions deemed necessary by the IPCC;
  • Board oversight of Dominion’s public policy advocacy on climate;
  • Direct and indirect expenditures designed to influence elections or legislation related to climate change;
  • Proposed actions to be taken as a result of the review.