Kinder Morgan Shareholders Demand Reporting on Sustainability, Climate Investment Risk
Kinder Morgan Inc. shareholders attending the company’s annual meeting in Houston have adopted two out of three resolutions calling for better climate and sustainability reporting, even though all three were unanimously opposed by the company’s board.
“As you are probably aware, these proposals are non-binding,” Executive Chair Rich Kinder said in a statement following the vote. “However, the Board will carefully consider the proposals and the information contained in the supporting statements in determining what actions to take with respect to them.”
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Shareholders defeated a resolution, backed by Norway’s US$1.3-trillion sovereign wealth fund, that called on Kinder to reports on methane leaks from its pipeline operations, Vice News reports. But they agreed with the call by New York State’s $270-billion retirement fund “to publish an annual sustainability report that would include business risk from climate change, increasingly severe weather, energy efficiency, and other relevant environmental and social impacts,” Vice notes. They also supported a measure requiring the company to report on the risk it faces from implementation of the Paris agreement, with its top-line target of limiting average global warming to 2.0°C.
Before the vote, Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith First Nation in British Columbia’s Secwépemc territory spoke in favour of all three resolutions.
“Your company misinterprets Canadian law at your own peril,” she told shareholders, warning that consent for the project from some First Nations along the route doesn’t constitute consent under Secwépemc law.
“Shareholders should not be misled,” she said. “My people, the Secwépemc people, collectively hold Aboriginal title and rights regarding our territory,” and “property rights cannot be ceded by individual groups.” She stressed that Aboriginal law is enshrined in the Canadian constitution.
“We do not believe that the risks of this project have been accurately evaluated nor fully disclosed, and we want you to know that we have the law on our side and we intend to enforce our rights,” Wilson told the meeting. “We are here to tell you that even if the Canadian government tries to minimize political or financial risks, we will not stop fighting [the pipeline expansion] because it threatens our culture, spirituality, and identity.”
“The passage of the sustainability reporting resolution is a victory and a sign that institutional shareholders are concerned about the opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion project and the perceived lack of understanding that the company has demonstrated of the rights of Indigenous people,” she told media after the meeting.
Kinder Morgan said the sustainability report requested by shareholders “would be an expensive and time-consuming exercise that would be largely duplicative of information already available on our website or otherwise publicly available.” It claimed the report could cost “millions of dollars per year in incremental headcount, systems, and production costs” that were not justified given the information it already publishes.