Southwestern Energy Company Methane Emissions 2014
|Company||Southwestern Energy Co.|
|Sector||Mining & Resources|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Fugitive Methane Report|
WHEREAS: Methane’s impact on global temperature is 86x that of CO2 over a 20-year period, emissions contribute significantly to climate change. Methane represents over 25% of 20-year CO2 equivalent emissions in the EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
Studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harvard University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Texas estimate highly varied methane leakage rates as a percentage of production, creating uncertainty and garnering attention from Forbes and The New York Times, where methane leakage was referred to as “the Achilles’ heel of hydraulic fracturing” and it was reported “Emissions of Methane in US Exceed Estimates.”
A November 2013 study, “Anthropogenic Emissions of Methane in the United States,” finds EPA prescribed methodologies “underestimate methane emissions nationally by a factor of ~1.5.” The EPA’s auditor refers to current emissions estimates as being of “questionable quality.”
The IEA highlights the risk of failing to implement best practice methane management in “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas,” recommending actions “necessary to realise the economic and energy security benefits [of gas development] while meeting public concerns.” Recommended actions are to “eliminate venting, minimise flaring,” and “consider setting targets on emissions as part of their overall strategic policies to win public confidence.”
Reducing methane emissions in upstream oil and gas production is one of four policies proposed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that “could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost.” The policies “rely only on existing technologies” and “would not harm economic growth.”
A failure by companies to proactively reduce methane emissions may invite more rigorous regulations.
We believe Southwestern’s social license to operate is at risk and the Company has a responsibility to implement a comprehensive management program. We recognize some operations may incorporate best practice management; however, the risk of leaks at high growth or select geographies can negate best practices elsewhere.
Methane leakage has a direct economic impact on Southwestern Energy, as lost gas is not available for sale. The National Resource Defense Council estimates control processes could generate $2 billion in annual revenues for the industry and reduce methane pollution eighty percent.
A strong program of measurement, mitigation, target setting and disclosure would indicate a reduction in regulatory and legal risk, as well as efficient operations maximizing gas for sale and shareholder value.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Southwestern issue a report (by October 2014, at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) for investors that reviews the Company’s policies, actions, and plans to measure, mitigate, disclose, and set quantitative reduction targets for methane emissions resulting from all operations under the Company’s financial or operational control.
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: We believe a report adequate for investors to assess strategy would include the leakage rate as a percentage of production, best practices, worst performing assets, environmental impact, quantitative reduction targets and methods to track progress over time. Best practice strategy would utilize real-time measurement and monitoring technologies.