Occidental Board Member Environmental Expertise 2011
|Company||Occidental Petroleum Corporation|
|Filer||New York State Comptroller|
|Sector||Oil and Gas|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Independent board member with environmental expertise|
Environmental expertise is critical to the success of companies in the mining industry because of the significant environmental issues associated with their operations. Shareholders, lenders, host country governments and regulators, and affected communities, are focused on these impacts. A
company’s inability to demonstrate that its environmental policies and practices are in line with internationally accepted standards can lead to difficulties in raising new capital and obtaining the necessary licenses from regulators.
Occidental Petroleum has been cited for allegedly harmful environmental practices: Between 1971 and 2000 Occidental Petroleum conducted oil exploration operations in the Corrientes River region of the Peruvian Amazon, and during those years, the company was
alleged to have:
• Discharged an estimated nine billion barrels of toxic wastewater into local rivers and streams (The Independent(UK), 5/4/07 “Oil Company Accused of Dumping Waste in Amazon”),
• Stored wastes in unlined earthen pits(Occidental’s Pollution Prevention Practices in Block 1AB Violated Industry Standards From Inception of Operations in 1975.E-Tech International,2006.p.2),
• These toxic wastes had negative impacts on the health of the local Achuar indigenous people and their environment. Organizations representing the indigenous population of the region have accused Occidental of violations of the Peruvian General Health Law (Law 26842) and the Peruvian General Water Law(Decree 17752), prohibiting the dumping of waste that might contaminate water and endanger human health,
• Occidental has been accused in a pending civil action brought by Achuar plaintiffs of causing harm to the Achuar people by its environmental practices.(Tomas Maynas Carijano et al v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation et al, California Central District Court).
We believe that these controversies have the potential to damage shareholder value and that the company must respond to its environmental challenges in an effective, strategic and transparent manner, in order to restore trust and minimize the adverse impact of its operations.
Environmental management is critical to the future success of the company. We believe it would benefit the company to address the environmental impact of its business at the most strategic level – by appointing a specialist to the board. An authoritative figure with acknowledged environmental expertise and standing could perform a valuable and strategic role for the company by enabling Occidental Petroleum to more effectively address the environmental issues
inherent in its business. It would also help ensure that the highest levels of attention focus on the development of environmental standards for new projects. Such a broad role would strengthen the company’s ability to demonstrate the seriousness with which it is addressing environmental issues.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request that, as the terms in office of elected board directors expire, at least one candidate be recommended who:
• Has a high level of expertise in environmental matters relevant to hydrocarbon exploration and production and is widely recognized in the business and environmental communities as an authority in such field, in each case as reasonably determined by the company’s board, and
• Will qualify, subject to limited exceptions in extraordinary circumstances explicitly specified by the board, as an independent director under the standards applicable to the company as an NYSE listed company,
In order that the board includes at least one director satisfying the foregoing criteria, which director shall have designated responsibility on the board for environmental matters.