Trillium shareholder resolution calls for environmental expert on Chevron board

Latest development in long-running engagement with oil major

Trillium Asset Management is calling for an independent director with environmental expertise at Chevron, the oil giant which subpoenaed the Boston-based sustainable fund firm a year ago over its role in shareholder proposals relating to its long-running Ecuador pollution legal case.

Trillium’s resolution for Chevron’s 2014 annual shareholder meeting seeks at least one director candidate with “a high level of expertise and experience in environmental matters”.

In December 2012, the company subpoenaed Trillium, demanding documents relating to a string of shareholder proposals that Trillium has been involved with over the Amazon case since 2005. Chevron also demanded that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli hand over documents relating the resolutions.

In its latest resolution, Trillium argues environmental expertise is critical for companies in the energy industry: “Shareholders, lenders, host country governments and regulators, and affected communities are focused on these impacts.”

It says an inability to meet environmental standards can lead to “difficulties in raising new capital” and obtaining the licenses from regulators.

A similar proposal filed for the 2013 meeting by DiNapoli received a 22% vote. Trillium points out that Chevron has been “repeatedly” cited for allegedly harmful environmental practices.It cited the judgment last month from Ecuador’s highest court, which upheld a 2011 ruling that found Chevron liable for $9.5bn in damages arising from contamination in the Amazonian rainforest by subsidiary Texaco. It also cites fines in Brazil and pollution claims in the Niger Delta.

“An authoritative figure with acknowledged expertise and standing could perform a valuable role for by enabling Chevron to more effectively address the environmental issues inherent in its business” Trillium says.

At Chevron’s AGM this year, there was 33% support for SRI consultant Simon Billenness’ Ecuador-related motion calling for a lowering of the threshold to allow shareholders to call their own meetings. Billenness is also among those subpoenaed by Chevron.

Selected Trillium resolutions for 2014:

  • EOG Resources: methane emissions
  • Spectra Energy: methane
  • Lowe’s Companies: greenhouse gas emissions
  • Motorola Solutions: political contributions
  • ExxonMobil: sexual orientation non-discrimination policy
  • Yahoo: political contribution disclosure
  • PepsiCo: land rights
  • Home Depot: equal employment