( – promoted by lowkell)
Cross-posted from the ChesapeakeClimate.org blog.
Today I attended my third Dominion Resources annual shareholder meeting, the company’s 104th. And woah! What a day! The company announced that a resolution addressing the financial risks of climate change, which I worked with a shareholder to introduce, received an unprecedented 22% of the shareholder vote. While that may not sound like much, in the shareholder activism world, anything over 10% is remarkable. Resolutions are typically introduced not with passage as the goal but with the intention to educate board members and shareholders.
Outside of the meeting, which was held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, about 20 activists volunteering with CCAN, Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices held their own “exhibit” of altered artwork to represent the unrecognizable future of rising seas, extreme weather disasters and destroyed mountains that Dominion is leading Virginia toward. The "masterpieces" included a Starry Night marred by mountaintop removal mining, The Birth of Venus submerged by rising seas — a reality all too close to home for residents of Hampton Roads — and Napoleon, with CEO Tom Farrell moonlighting as the emperor of climate pollution.
Dominion is Virginia’s biggest climate polluter and a major purchaser of coal from mountaintop removal mining. On the other hand, the company has yet to bring a single kilowatt of utility-scale wind or solar power online for Virginia customers.
Activists got a pleasant surprise when Delegate Peter Farrell, son of Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, wandered by. The Virginia General Assembly member stopped to check out the action, and listened as one of his constituents explained we were there to call attention to Dominion's climate pollution and the impacts of the company's fossil fuel-fired energy. Then he asked to take a picture of our artwork featuring his CEO father!
Back inside the meeting, the resolution I presented (item 8 on the 2013 proxy) calling on leadership to report on risks posed to shareholders by climate change , especially extreme weather, received 22% of the vote. The proposal noted that the three most costly extreme weather events in Dominion's 104-year history– Hurricane Isabel, Hurricane Irene, and last year's derecho– have all come within the last decade. A proposal to link executive compensation to sustainability metrics received 7%, one related to mountaintop removal coal mining received 6% and one related to nuclear power safety received 4%. In recent memory, the highest vote percentage received by a shareholder resolution that the Dominion board urged shareholders to reject — in other words, all of the environmentally focused resolutions — was 16%. That was received by a 2011 proposal related to the community impacts of power plant retirements.
The impressive level of support for the climate risk resolution shows that Dominion’s shareholders are experiencing a wake-up call, like the rest of the country. I just hope to see Dominion take today’s vote seriously. If the company took a hard look at the existing and long-term threats posed by building massive new fossil fuel plants, like the natural gas plant it has proposed in Brunswick County, VA, the rewards of investing instead in large-scale clean energy would be self-evident. Neither Dominion's shareholders nor everyday Virginians can afford the unrecognizable future of ever more powerful storms, ruined landscapes and chronic flooding that the company's unrelenting pollution is taking us toward.
Check out all the photos on Flickr!