Environmental and safety risks hot topics during proxy season

by Adam Piore for Business Insider, June 7th, 2011.

This proxy season has seen activist investors push a slew of resolutions aimed at forcing companies to provide more disclosure about environmental, social and safety risks. As investors saw stock prices plunge after man-made disasters such as last year’s Massey Energy mine explosion and BP’s Gulf oil spill, they are now more concerned about the risks natural disasters pose to company bottom lines, and they are challenging corporate boards to make sure they are prepared for the worst.

The AFL-CIO put forth proposals asking that seven companies in the oil industry report on the steps they have taken to reduce the risk of accidents within 90 days of their annual meetings, asking each board to spell out how it oversees safety.

The proposals gained significant shareholder support at the annual meetings for oil refining company Tesoro, where it mustered 54 percent of the vote (though the number of abstentions was so high, it failed to pass), and at the meeting for Valero Energy where it garnered 43 percent. The union withdrew the proposal from Sunoco’s ballot, after the company agreed to voluntarily implement a reporting process. (continue reading… )

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