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June 03, 2011
Resolutions Addressing Hydraulic Fracturing Continue to Attract Shareowner Support
by Robert Kropp
At annual meeting of Ultra Petroleum, the company refuses to permit shareowners to present their
proposal, but votes in favor double that of 2010.
Earlier this week, SocialFunds.com reported that shareowner proposals addressing the controversial
practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, received 41% of shareowner votes at Chevron, and 28%
at ExxonMobil. SocialFunds.com reported at the time that the results of a vote on a similar
proposal at Ultra Petroleum had not been announced.
In an email sent to
SocialFunds.com yesterday, Michael Passoff, Senior Strategist for the Corporate Social
Responsibility Program at As You Sow, a co-filer
with Green Century Capital Management of
the resolution at Ultra Petroleum, disclosed the results of the vote at the company's annual
meeting. Shareowner support for the fracking resolution at Ultra was 42%, twice that of the result
"I can't remember such a big jump in a vote before and I have filed hundreds of
resolutions over the last 15 years," Passoff wrote.
Furthermore, Passoff revealed, Ultra
Petroleum refused to allow shareowners to present their resolution at the meeting, although
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules require shareowners to do so.
Petroleum is the parent company of Ultra Resources, a drilling company active in the Marcellus
Shale, a large underground natural gas formation located in Pennsylvania and New York. In March,
the New York Times reported that more than 155,000 gallons of wastewater from
the fracking process had been sent by Ultra Resources in 2009 to nine towns in Pennsylvania for
dust suppression on their roadways. The wastewater "contained radium at almost 700 times the levels
allowed in drinking water," the Times reported.
"Several of Ultra Petroleum's board
members serve as officers of Ultra Resources," Passoff stated, "Raising concerns about proper
Another shareowner resolution addressing hydraulic fracturing at Energen won
49.5% of shareowner vote, and at Carrizo a first-time resolution submitted by the New York State
Common Retirement Fund received almost 44%. According to Passoff, the percentage at Carrizo was one
of the highest votes even for a new resolution.
"Fracking is raising all the investor red
flags of increased regulatory risk, litigation and fines, public opposition, and reputational
risks," Passoff wrote. "Shareholders need assurance that companies are candidly disclosing these
risks and adopting best management practices to minimize them."
He continued, "This is
only the second year of voting on fracking and this issue continues to gain traction with
shareholders who are invested for the long haul and want to make sure fracking is done
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