Investors Led by Boston Common Asset Management Applaud International Energy Agency’s Fracking Recommendations; Proposed Guidelines Similar to Those Published by Investor Environmental Health Network and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
After outlining their own recommendations seven months ago for energy companies engaged in fracking, investors with about $1 trillion in assets under management are seeing much they can support in the International Energy Agency’s “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas” report released today.
On May 16, 2012, Boston Common Asset Management (Boston Common), the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) announced that 55 major investment organizations and institutional investors with nearly $1 trillion in assets under management had united in support of “best practices” for the fracking of shale gas. The guidelines, “Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing Risks from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations,” are available online at https://www.iehn.org/documents/frackguidance.pdf.
With the publication today of its “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas” report – part of the World Energy Outlook series – the International Energy Agency outlines a number of recommendations in the same spirit as the IEHN/ICCR guidelines.
Steven Heim, managing director and director of ESG Research and Shareholder Engagement, Boston Common, said:
“Investors require full disclosure in accordance with IEA’s golden rules in order to make fully informed judgments about wise investments in the energy sector that take full account of companies’ management of environmental risks and social impacts.”
Richard Liroff, PhD., executive director, Investor Environmental Health Network, said:
“The substantial alignment between IEA’s recommendations and ‘Extracting the Facts’ means that ‘Extracting the Facts’ provides companies with a practical tool for implementing the IEA recommendations.”
Sister Nora Nash, director of corporate social responsibility, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and member of the ICCR, said:
“The IEA golden rules reinforce the core messages of the investor guidelines we put forth in “Extracting the Facts” that companies need to fully engage communities to secure their social license to operate, and a critical element of such engagement is responding to community concerns and reporting fully on operational practices.”
Investors embracing “Extracting the Facts” seek action from the industry due to increasing level of uncertainty about fracking. Examples of the impacts include the following:
- Spreading moratoria and bans compromise development prospects. Recent restrictions on the industry include: moratoria in New York State and the Delaware River Basin; a moratorium in the Province of Quebec, Canada; and outright bans in France and Bulgaria. Shell has estimated that two-fifths of its New York State acreage could be off-limits due to pending rules on fracking in that state. Chevron’s exploration license in Bulgaria has been cancelled.
- Inconsistent practices making it impossible for investors to make informed choices. While some companies have voluntarily increased disclosures, particularly around chemicals used in fracking, there is no systematic reporting on risk management and reduction steps, which means investors may lack information critical to fully evaluating energy companies engaged in shale gas extraction.
- Growing shareholder unrest. Investor concern is evident in high levels of shareholder votes supporting requests for more fracking disclosure. In the 2010 and 2011 proxy seasons, 21 shareholder resolutions at 16 companies received strong support, averaging 30 percent votes on six resolutions going to votes in 2010, and an average 40 percent votes on five resolutions voted on in 2011. Most of the remaining resolutions were withdrawn in the course of discussions with companies, which either took positive action or pledged that they would do so in the near future.
“Extracting the Facts” was inspired by energy companies’ requests, in dialogues with investors, for enhanced guidance on disclosure of risk management practices. The guide is organized around 12 core goals and supporting practices and indicators:
- Manage risks transparently and at board level;
- Reduce surface footprint;
- Assure well integrity;
- Reduce and disclose all toxic chemicals;
- Protect water quality by rigorous monitoring;
- Minimize fresh water use;
- Prevent contamination from waste water;
- Minimize and disclose air emissions;
- Prevent contamination from solid waste and sludge residuals;
- Assure best in class contractor performance;
- Secure community consent; and
- Disclose fines, penalties and litigation.
In alphabetical order, the full list of the 55 investors, investment management and institutional investor firms supporting the “best practices” guidelines for fracking are as follows: Adrian Dominican Sisters (USA); Adveq Real Assets, Adveq Management AG (Switzerland); APG All Pensions Group (Netherlands); As You Sow (USA); Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (Australia); Bon Secours Health System, Inc. (USA); Boston Common Asset Management, LLC (USA); Calvert Investments, Inc. (USA); Catholic Health East (USA); Catholic Health Partners (USA); Catholic Super (Australia); Ceres (USA); Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (USA); Christopher Reynolds Foundation (USA); Compton Foundation (USA); Congregation Sisters of St. Agnes General Council (Fond du Lac, WI) (USA); Dexia Asset Management (Belgium); Dignity Health (USA);Domini Social Investments LLC (USA); Dominican Sisters of Hope (USA); Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose (USA); Ethos (Switzerland); Everence Financial (USA); First Affirmative Financial Network (USA); Governance for Owners (United Kingdom); Green Century Capital Management (USA); Local Government Super (Australia); Maryknoll Sisters (USA); Mercy Investment Services (USA); Miller/Howard Investments, Inc. (USA); NEI Investments (Canada); Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment (USA); Park Foundation (USA); Parnassus Investments (USA); Pax World Funds (USA); Portfolio 21 Investments (USA); Qube Investment Management Inc. (Canada); Regnan – Governance Research & Engagement Pty Ltd (Australia); Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Province (USA); Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (USA); Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) (Canada); Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (USA); Sisters of St. Dominic, Congregation of the Most Holy Name, San Rafael (USA); Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, St. Francis Province (USA); Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (USA); Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange (USA); Sisters of St. Louis, California Region (USA); Sisters of the Holy Family (USA); Socially Responsible Investment Coalition (SRIC) (USA); Swift Foundation (USA); The Sustainability Group at Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge Trust, LLC (USA); Trillium Asset Management LLC (USA); Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province (USA); Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management (USA); and Zevin Asset Management (USA).
ABOUT THE GROUPS
Boston Common Asset Management is an investment manager and a leader in global sustainability initiatives, specializing in long-only International equity, US equity, and US balanced strategies. Boston Common seeks sustainable, long-term capital appreciation by investing in diversified portfolios of what it believes are high-quality companies through rigorous analysis of financial, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. As shareowners, Boston Common urges companies to improve transparency, accountability, and attention to ESG issues. Boston Common is an independent, employee-owned firm and as of March 31, 2012, managed over $1.6 billion, including subadvised assets.
The Investor Environmental Health Network is a collaborative partnership of investment managers, advised by nongovernmental organizations, concerned about the financial and public health risks associated with corporate toxic chemicals policies. IEHN, through dialogue and shareholder resolutions, encourages companies to adopt policies to continually and systematically reduce and eliminate the toxic chemicals in their products and activities.
Currently celebrating its 40th year, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in assets have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world.
MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell at (703) 276-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of a related May 16, 2012 news event is be available on the Web at https://www.bostoncommonasset.com/.