Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced this week that “the state pension fund would join other shareholders in ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Devon Energy in seeking to force those companies to disclose more of their lobbying activities.” Specifically, Rhode Island’s Treasurer said in his letter that they were writing in support of a proxy resolution “which was originally filed by Walden Asset Management.”
While it’s troubling that the state of Rhode Island is engaging in anti-industry shareholder activism, it is even more alarming that they are following the environmental activists’ playbook to the letter. And this is very likely to be the first of many such assaults on the industry.
Both the Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer and Walden Asset Management are members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a shareholder-activist group created by Ceres to represent North America in the International Investor Group on Climate Change. The IIGCC is dedicated to “encouraging the adoption of strong and credible public policy solutions that ensure an orderly and efficient move to a low carbon economy.”
In addition, in his letter to ConocoPhillips, the Treasurer made requests that appear to be taken directly from the Climate Accountability Scorecard, a document developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists to “help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.”
For example, in both their letter and the proxy resolution, the Treasurer requested that ConocoPhillips disclose its relationship with the US Chamber of Commerce, which they say creates “an integrity problem for ConocoPhillips since the Chamber actively campaigns against the new EPA Clean Power Plan and sued the EPA to stop it.”
In a recent Bloomberg article, leading environmental activists said that following the 2016 elections, activists now plan to “double down on the state and local level.” It appears they have already started.